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It’s more than just the UK Game Expo part 2: The Dark Room

A Live Action Text Based Adventure Event

Dark Room Promotional Shot

Hello folks, you are very welcome here today.

If you read my previous post, or any of my social media, are psychic or something else, you will be aware that I attended the UK Game Expo as a Volunteer this year.  This didn’t leave me too much time to attend events, however I was able to get to the “Dark Room” event run by the incredibly talented and awesome John Robertson.

The Event is a very interesting idea taking something from his childhood, the computer text based adventure and making it into a live action audience participation video game.  It doesn’t hurt that John Robertson is an incredibly gifted entertainer capable of riffing comedy gold, spun from whatever the audience yells or says to him.

Text Based Adventures

Text Based adventures are pretty much what they sound like.  A game of the 80s, a player sat in front of a screen and was given a story prompt, which they had to answer specifically.  If they didn’t get the Goldilocks answer, they may not progress (or they might die) as a result of a literal interpretation of what they typed.  The opening for one such adventure might be “You awaken to find yourself in a dark room…” and it is from this the Dark Room show is born.

The Dark Room

The event starts with a bit of preamble and banter, all of which is adult in nature and highly funny.  If adults are foolish enough to bring, say, a 9 year old boy to the show – they will become victims of banter.  Then, the show starts.  A member of the audience is selected based on how keen you are in showing your interest, how terrified you look, if John’s persona has decided he does or does not like you, or any number of other seemingly but not quite random factors.  Once an audience member is selected, they are asked for their name which is promptly changed to Darren.  All the participants of the Dark Room are Darren.  It just is.

Once that happens, the game begins as does the audience participation.

Your host, and previous guests yell out at the top of their lungs

“You awaken to find yourself in a dark room…”

John Robertson doing the Dark Room

Was sitting all the way at the back and was using a camera phone, so the image is poor quality. Which is appropriate since the event is based on text based adventures…

And 4 options appear on the screen.  It is down to the player to decide which option they take.  Some of the options look legitimate, some look nonsensical or whimsical.  Regardless of the legitimacy of the option, the answer is often a literal response, possibly involving a joke or bad pun based on literal interpretation.  And then new options are presented.  This process carries on until you either escape the Dark Room, or you die.  Death results in further audience participation in the form of the chant “Ya die, Ya die, Ya die…”.  In the event of player victory, the rules stipulate your host gives you £1000 prize.  This would cost the host another £2 because that is how much the Hilton ATM charges for use.

Impressions

I really enjoyed the show.  The premise was interesting, however, the show was made by John Robertson’s ability to engage with audience and circumstance.    John is a remarkable entertainer, and an incredibly friendly guy to boot, staying behind after the show to chat to eager audience members, and to pose for photos with them.

 

Me, with John Robertson of the Dark Room

He is indeed wearing a spikey set of shoulder pads that look like the younger sibling of the Legion of Doom. What a rush.

The person taking the photo very kindly let me look to see that I was happy before heading off.  I was, except for my hands which are crooked, which I commented to John.  He said something to try and make me feel better about the fact that my hands are a bit crooked.   I pointed out that this was unnecessary as the limitations make me an ideal model for lego hands.

My left hand with several fingers locked in bent position

Fun fact, when I was in my early twenties, my left hand was crushed by a bus door and several fingers cant bend

That picture is for context.  I explained to John I was thinking of writing to Lego and sending them photos of my hand, holding thing such as a broom or a cup…

me demonstrating how I can hold a cup

I took this photo later to be a visual aid for you.  I still haven’t worked up the nerve to confuse the concierge by asking for a broom and for them to take a picture of my hand holding it.

shopping bags, microphones or indeed anything.  I am pleased to say that he found it funny and possibly thinks I am a bit crazy.  Probably for the best I didn’t launch into my “How I can use it as a method of preventing death at the hands of clifftop enemies spiel”…

If you ever get the chance to see John Robertson do the Dark Room, I do recommend it.  It is definitely worth your time.

All the best

John

Previous post – Intro                                           Next Post – Being a Guest

3 Comments on It’s more than just the UK Game Expo part 2: The Dark Room

  1. This really sounds like an incredible and fun experience. It also reminds me of the old Fighting Fantasy books that I highly enjoyed in the past (and honestly still do from time to time). This though is even better, and I wish an event like that would be occuring here some day. Hope you will continue to have fun! 😊

    • Ok, two things you should be aware. The Dark Room is international, or so I believe (John is an Aussie, and does shows all over). And secondly he has an ongoing twitter banter with Ian Livingston of Fighting Fantasy – and he was a special guest in the audience. I would have included that but I never got a chance to speak with him as I was on the door letting folk in, then tucked in at the back. I liked the fighting fantasy books too, and I also liked the Lone Wolf books (only did a couple of them) and I discovered and bought the Lone Wolf RPG yesterday and will be doing an unboxing for it

      • Really? That is very interesting to know indeed. Well, I will keep my eyes out if he ever makes an appearance over here in Holland. As for Lone Wolf, yes those were amazing as well, but unfortunately they were not widely available here, so I only managed to play a few of them. Looking forward to your unboxing video 😊

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