Published on April 7th, 2017 | by Dean Love


Don’t call it tha… oh look what you did

What’s an appropriate theme for an escape room? A Netherlands game themed around Anne Frank’s apartment received a lot of criticism recently for being a bit tactless. I’d reserve judgement until actually playing the game: games can be used to tackle sensitive issues in interesting and useful ways, though from the marketing it doesn’t seem like this game set out to do that.

But here’s a story that’s a little closer to home. On the 27 February this was posted on the UK Escape Room Enthusiasts Facebook group:

Yes, that’s a game called Terror Alert in London. In a room located in London. It’s not even the theme that’s the problem here. Plenty of games have some theme based around someone trying to set off a bomb or do something awful and the players trying to prevent/defuse it. It’s such a common action movie trope that you don’t really think twice about it. But literally calling it Terror Alert in London suddenly makes it a lot more real (and it’s not exactly a catchy name anyway).

And of course, not three weeks later there was a literal terror alert in London, with the worst terror attack the UK has seen in a decade. Of course there was. London is a prominent capital city, an attack was going to happen sooner or later, we’d just all been hoping for later. As of today, the Adventox website features the same game descriptions but Terror Alert in London is now simply known as Mission X, and for once I can forgive the genericism as it was likely literally dreamed up in half an hour.

What I find morbidly fascinating is that AdventoX would have been open during the attack. We can’t know if they had bookings or not, but there’s every possibility that a team went in to play Terror Alert in London and then emerged from the game an hour later to news that there was a literal terror alert in London. Perhaps even more awkward would be the teams booked to play that evening, turning up to play a game that had suddenly become very real for the residents of the city. If I were booked to play that might not be enough to put me off in itself, but the awkwardness of seeing the poor staff member have to try and explain the game in that situation would likely have led me to stay away!

Is it fair to criticise them in this way? Could they really have seen it coming? Could anyone have really predicted this? Well that’s the sting in the tail of this story that actually creeped me out a little, and why I’m writing about it. See, I didn’t include all of that Facebook screenshot earlier:

Yes, that’s me, showing a prescience that I somehow can’t replicate when it comes to predicting lottery numbers. Or women who will date me. I’m just happy I was fairly neutral with the statement and didn’t make some ‘hilarious’ joke about it.

The moral of the story? Probably to not name your room after a atrocity that might well happen for real in the very place your room is located?

To be honest I don’t think I’m very good at these “tips for owners” posts…

About the Author

Dean is a professional writer who has worked for The Mail On Sunday, The Digital Fix, MicroMart and others.

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