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Grand Opening article from the Expositor & Keeping Up

There was a nice article in the Brantford Expositor about the grand opening of the BGNlab.

If you would like to know about our upcoming public events, there are a few ways to do so:

1 - You can keep up with this page at

2 - You can Like our Facebook space at

3 - You can Follow our Twitter account at

4 - You can subscribe to our e-mail list via

We will be posting event info to all of these places, so you only need to follow one.



Ontario Escape Room Unconference 2015

On October 26, 2015 we ran the world's first Escape Room Unconference, which brought together 60 escape room owners, designers, and enthusiasts to Toronto, Ontario to talk about escapes! 

The conference chair was Dr. Scott Nicholson, the director of the Brantford Games Network lab and WLU Brantford professor. The venue was provided by the Transmedia Zone, led by Dr. Richard Lachman, Director of the Transmedia Zone/Transmedia Research Centre and an Associate Professor, Digital Media in the RTA School of Media at Ryerson University. The evening social event was hosted by Riddle Room, an escape room facility and board game cafe in downtown Toronto. 

Unconferences are different than traditional conferences, as the topics are generated by the participants, and the day is then a series of discussions  There are no formal speakers, as the experts are the attendees.  It is a day of sharing information, asking questions, and building networks.

One of the things that is exciting about the Escape Room community is that, unlike most of gaming, there is significant female representation in both designers and players.  



The first step in the day is coming up with topics.  Attendees were asked to propose topics of interest, which got people up and engaging right away.

Dr. Nicholson then worked to put similar topics together and place them into the schedule grid in order to create the topics for the day.

Here are the topics in textual form:


Session 1

Topic 1: future of escape rooms

Topic 2: children in escape rooms

Topic 3:physical puzzles

Topic 4: escape games on a large scale

Session 2

Topic 1: puzzle design

Topic 2: advertising and marketing

Topic 3: pricing and associations

Topic 4: replayability

Session 3

Topic 1: storytelling and narrative

Topic 2: apps and software

Topic 3: durability and set design

Topic 4: beta testing

Session 4

Topic 1: devices and electronics

Topic 2: effective hint providing

Topic 3:what do you wish you had known?

Topic 4: room designs that reset themselves



The sessions were not recorded, as these were not formal or prepared presentations.  Instead, these were discussions around the topics, and if they were being recorded, that would create a barrier to people being as open with their questions and stories.  There was great demand for video of the event from the Escape Room community, but small group informa discussions are not appropriate for that type of content creation.



Groups were asked to develop three points from the session and to record notes in a shared Google document from the sessions.  Some groups followed this request, while others did not.   

The google document with information from the day, which is still being updated, can be found at

At the end of the day, there was a small activity exploring what a full Escape Room Conference might look like, with considerable interest in exploring Niagara Falls as a venue.

Afterwards, we went to Riddle Room where people played escape rooms and continued the discussion for a few hours before escaping back home!

Attendees seemed engaged throughout the day.  One attendee commented that the day just flew by, as the pace kept people moving from discussion to discussion.  For a nacent field, the unconference is a great model, as there aren't established speakers that people will travel to see.






Operation Sabotage Stanwix: A Pop-up Escape Room

This event is now over!


Fort Stanwix News Release
Can you escape? Travel back in time through this team-based live-action puzzle game. Take the 
opportunity to enlist as a British spy trying to spy on Fort Stanwix! This interactive adventure is 
taking place one day only, Saturday, June 13, at Fort Stanwix National Monument.
Groups of 2-6 people will embark on an adventure where they work through a series of challenges 
to sabotage the efforts of Continental Soldiers and learn about Fort Stanwix. “Operation Sabotage 
Stanwix” will be fun for the whole family. No special skills or knowledge is required. While the 
game takes place in the physical world (in one single room of the fort), it is not physically 
Operation Sabotage Stanwix runs for just one day - June 13th - as a pop-up escape room. Teams 
will sign up for a start time and will be busy for about 45 minutes. As with all other park events it 
is free of charge. However, due to limited space, participants must register in advance by calling 
the park number listed below. Children under the age of 14 must be accompanied by an adult.
Small groups may be put together in the same time slot.
The game was developed in partnership with Scott Nicholson, professor at Wilfrid Laurier 
University and former professor at Syracuse University's School of Information Studies and the 
Game Designers' Guild of Syracuse. Fort Stanwix National Monument is the first national park
unit to utilize this kind of interactive adventure to engage with the public and share the park’s 
Fort Stanwix National Monument is open from 9 am to 5 pm. Admission to the park 
is free. For more information about upcoming events please call the park at (315) 338-7730. 
Please visit the park’s web page at, or follow us on Facebook, for additional 
information about the park and up-to-date news about park events. Fort Stanwix is one of over 
400 parks in the National Park System. To learn more about national parks, visit

Fort Stanwix News Release




Final Game Designers' Guild in Syracuse - May 29

The final Game Designers' Guild for Syracuse will be on Friday, May 29th.

We will be meeting in Hinds Hall 347 from 5:30 onward.

Our primary goal will be to test the Escape Room for Fort Stanwix that will be running on June 13.  We'll have two copies of it running, and it will take about 20 minutes to play.

The rest of the time, you can play games, test games you have created, and enjoy each other's company at this last meeting!



Scott Nicholson accepting a new position

I'm heading to Canada!

I have just accepted a new position as a professor of games and director of a new Game Design and Development degree program at a branch of Wilfrid Laurier University in Brantford, Ontario.  This program will prepare students to design tabletop, video, and live-action games with a general focus on games that can change the world.  This program will be the center of a community-based focus on games with partnerships with the city and has received a warm welcome from local press.

I've made two videos talking about it.

If you don't know me, I've made this Scott Nicholson 101 video to introduce myself to you:


If you do know me and want to learn more about where I'm going, watch this one:


I plan to continue my escape room research in Brantford.  Toronto and the surrounding region is the hotbed for escape rooms in North America, so I will be working with the communities there as I continue my explorations.  I have released a living white paper on the topic of escape rooms and am focused on how they can used by places of informal learning like museums and libraries.

So, if you always wanted to have the real-life version of Board Games with Scott, now is your chance!