Escape Room Trade Shows, Conferences, & Unconferences

With the growth of the escape room industry, conferences have emerged in North America and Europe. These gatherings primarily exist to facilitate the sharing of ideas. There is a lot to learn whether you are already active in escape rooms or interested in getting involved.

Here is a rundown of this year’s gatherings:

Trade Shows

TransWorld, Escape Room City

  • March 23-27, 2017
  • America’s Center, St. Louis, MO, USA
  • from $50

Escape Room City is a section of TransWorld’s Halloween & Attraction show in St. Louis.

The massive, decades-old show is for anyone who owns a haunted attraction, corn maze, farm, pumpkin patch, paintball field, family fun center, amusement park, zoo, aquarium, Halloween retail store or anything Halloween-related. As haunters have recently taken an interest in escape room design and construction, TransWorld expanded the show to include escape rooms as well.

We haven’t yet made it to St. Louis for the show, but we hear that it’s quite the sight to behold.

TransWorld’s Room Escape Conference

  • May 1-5, 2017
  • Niagara Falls Conference & Event Center, Niagara Falls, NY, USA
  • from $25

This conference is a dedicated escape room trade show. It is organized by the same folks who put together the Halloween & Attraction show, but it is a separate, escape room-focused  trade show.

Hosted for the first time in Chicago in August of 2016, it drew in a crowd of over 1,700 people. Most attendees were active escape room owners or prospective owners. There were also a few escape room enthusiasts in attendance.

This year’s conference is promising to be larger, including seminars, networking events, and a post-show escape room tour. We’ll be delivering a free seminar on the second day of the conference, as well as moderating a panel.

Stay tuned for more details as we prepare for our trip to Niagara Falls.

A panoramic photo of a room packed with 400 people listening to Lisa & David deliver their talk.
400 people came to see our talk at 8am last year!

Conferences

Up The Game

  • May 9th, 2017
  • Prison Dome, Breda, The Netherlands
  • from €169

Created in a collaboration between two escape room companies in The Netherlands, Logic Locks and Real Life Gaming, Up The Game is a real life gaming and escape room conference.

Hosted for the first time in Amsterdam in 2016, this year’s conference will meet in Breda. It focuses on in-depth talks and opportunities for attendees to meet, interact, and learn from one another.

We are very excited to speak at Up The Game on May 9, 2017.

Unconferences

Unconferences are more low-key and community-driven than trade shows and conferences. Their structures can vary from event to event, but they typically cost little money and don’t have much (or any) sponsorship. They frequently allow participants to organize discussion topics on the fly.

Ontario Escape Room Unconference (Canada)

Chaired by Scott Nicholson, Professor of Game Design and Development at Wilfrid Laurier University in Brantford, Ontario, this one day Unconference focuses on an attendee-created agenda and peer discussions instead of speaker-focused sessions.

It is an irregularly scheduled conference, having run in the fall of 2015 and the winter of 2017. The cost is approximately $25 CAD per day, generally drawing about 60 attendees.

The Great Escape Unconference (United Kingdom)

  • April 25, 2017
  • Summerhall, Edinburgh, Scotland
  • Approximately £33

Organized by Liz Cable, with assistance from others in the community, this single-day event typically breaks the day up into four consecutive sessions with 4-6 different groups per session. Sessions are chosen by consensus at the start of the day and are peer discussions with one or two more formal presentations.

The Great Escape Unconference is a quarterly event that has been going on for the past year. Thus far the group has met in London twice and Leeds twice. The upcoming April event will take place in Edinburgh.

The first UK Unconference hosted around 30 people, but it has grown steadily, with the most recent bringing in approximately 80 people. The audience is primarily owners with roughly a quarter of attendees being escape room enthusiasts or prospective owners.

We haven’t yet had the pleasure of attending any unconferences.

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