Streaming Real-Life Hitman

Back in 2016, some folks painstakingly created a real-life version of the video game Hitman, where players verbally commanded an actor through a mansion, with the mission of eliminating a target.

Hitman approaching a mansion.

Aside from being phenomenally well-executed, this video is playing with ideas that I think we’ll see more of in the future as streaming games become more prevalent.

Also… can someone make a game where I drop a statue on a nemesis? I didn’t know that I needed that in my life.

Next on the RECON Stage: Gamemasters Hillary Manning & Aaron Gold​

This week, The Reality Escape Convention (RECON) announced Hillary Manning & Aaron Gold​, two professional gamemasters, as speakers at this year’s digital global Reality Escape Convention.

Hillary & Aaron headshots.

Hillary and Aaron will share amusing moments and hard truths from years as gamemasters for multiple escape room companies.

Stories from Gamemastering

Gamemastering is one of the most important functions of the escape room experience. Combining customer service, performance, and execution, the gamemaster is the face of an escape room company to their customers. They set the stage and can either elevate or harm the experience.

Hillary and Aaron are veteran escape room gamemasters who will share their insights and truths about the job and how to better train and empower a gamemaster for success.

About Hillary and Aaron

Hillary Manning is a New York-based designer of puzzles, costumes, and other interesting things. She has gamemastered with two different escape room companies. Last year we worked together on the children’s television program Create The Escape, which really highlighted her abilities as a creator as well as her skill in interacting with people.

Aaron Gold is a working actor appearing in stage shows, cartoons, and commercials. He has found that gamemastering is a great job for his particular blend of skills, and has worked for multiple New York City-based escape room companies.

Join us at RECON

RECON ’20 is a free digital event with curated talks covering aspects of experience design in physical and digital media.

RECON is less than one month away. Pre-register today so that you receive all information about registering to get your virtual badge, the full schedule of talks, and how to meet other folks at RECON. All this information will be available to pre-registrants really soon!

Level Games – The Menagerie [Reaction]

We were booked to travel to Los Angeles back in mid-March… before the apocalypse shut everything down.

Level Games’ The Menagerie was on our list of top games to play on that trip.

We have generally avoided playing escape rooms in avatar mode if we thought that we would play them in real life eventually. When we learned that Level Games was closing, however, we booked The Menagerie immediately.

Shelves covered in jars and filled with animal specimines.

Should I play Level Games’ The Menagerie?

Let’s get this out of the way: yes. Yes, you should play The Menagerie while you can. It is only open for a few more weeks before the company closes completely.

An unusual wooden box covered in metal sockets.

Why should I play Level Games’ The Menagerie?

As an avatar game streamed through Zoom:

  • The streaming and avatar character were narratively a part of the game.
  • It managed inventory better than most.
  • The puzzles played particularly well through the camera.
  • The unusual structure of The Menagerie lent itself to interesting online play.

Beyond all of the mechanical elegance of The Menagerie, the biggest factor for me was how much fun I had while simultaneously wishing that I had had the opportunity to experience this game in real life.

Zoom view of a workbench with a model house, a statue of a lion, and a strange mechanical contraption.

In the end, I am honestly glad that I got to play it at all, in any form. This is a game and a company that will be missed.

Crow Solves an Escape Room

So… animals solving puzzles is gonna be a thing around here.

A crow gazing at a question mark.

Today we have a crow solving an escape room. It’s not labeled as such because the video is from 2014, but rest assured, if it were made today, they’d be rightly calling this a Crow Escape Room.

The thing that I find so remarkable is how the crow tests different tools throughout the process. There were moments in this video where I honestly related to the birdy…

Then I imagined this puzzle sequence in a real-life escape room and realized that some teams of humans would inevitably break the props.

Mystery Jigsaw Puzzle Game: A is for Arson [Review]

A Mixed Bag

Location:  at home

Date Played: June 14, 2020

Team size: we recommend 1-3

Size: two 500-piece 13 x 10 inch puzzles

Price: about $15

REA Reaction

This puzzle packed two gimmicks into one box.

Even as an avid jigsaw puzzler, the prospect of 2 different 500-piece puzzles mixed into the same box was a bit intimidating. As it turned out, that worked a lot better than I’d expected. In fact, this was easier to assemble than most of the 750 – 1000 piece puzzles that I’ve solved. The clever trick here was the different depths of field in each image.

A is for Arson box art, shows an ominous scene with various chemicals and a zippo lighter.

As an added twist, the story booklet set up a mystery that we could solve using the evidence we observed in the puzzle pictures.

So, how did this all come together? Well… it was a mixed bag.

The jigsaw puzzles were fine, even if the puzzle pictures were inelegant. (The box art was way more interesting.)

As a mystery game… it was also fine. The mystery was solvable, although some clues were a bit hard to read on account of the image quality.

The biggest stumble in A is for Arson was the narrative, which substituted cultural and ethnic stereotypes in place of actual character development.

A is for Arson was conceptually brilliant; I wish that it had stronger execution.

Who is this for?

  • Jigsaw puzzlers

Why play?

  • The unusual design of 2 different 500-piece puzzles mixed into 1 box
  • The additional story/ mystery content


Investigators had been summoned to the charred ruins of a local Indian restaurant to investigate the origins of the suspicious fire.

It turned out that there were quite a few people with a motive for torching the place.

Continue reading “Mystery Jigsaw Puzzle Game: A is for Arson [Review]”