The Escape Summit




Here are the seminar topics and the speakers that will be available at The Escape Summit.



This workshop will focus on designing elegant, fair, and satisfying puzzles. Creating puzzles isn’t an unknown art, and designers have been tackling the problem of bad puzzle design for decades. Pulling in from the world of puzzle hunts, interactive fiction, and adventure games, this workshop will look at poorly designed puzzles and game flow, and how to improve it.

Speaker: Errol Elumir creates large scale theatrical escape events and puzzle hunts. He also co-hosts the podcast Room Escape Divas, compiles the annual Escape Room Enthusiast Survey, has 13 Rules for Escape Room Puzzle Design, and keeps a number of his articles on the infrequently visited website

Day One, Workshop A Slot


What are your rights?

Intellectual Property is a large concern for owners in the Escape Room Industry. During this IP workshop we will discuss different types of IP rights including trademarks, copyrights, new media, trade secrets and patents and how they can be used to create an IP strategy and build an IP portfolio.

Speaker: Max Rothschild is an associate with Bereskin & Parr LLP and member of the Copyright & Digital Media Group. With experience in legal and business affairs, and licensing agreements, his practice includes copyright matters such as registration, licensing, assignments, and clearances.

Day Two, Free Workshop


Escape Room Tech for Dummies

So you want to add some tech to your escape rooms but don’t know a volt from an amp? Everyone’s talking about PLCs and Arduinos, and the only Raspberry Pi you know of is for dessert? Has tech jargon made you too nervous to try? There are many simple tech tricks that can be learned easily, either from basic electronic parts or in conjunction with off-the-shelf escape room controllers. This layperson’s workshop will cover the basics of simple 12V circuits and switches, and how they can apply to escape room puzzles. We’ll work with buttons, relays, toggles and reed switch. We’ll also look at the Escape Keeper puzzle controller from Fright Props that can make your puzzles look profession with only a simple understanding of electronics. This workshop should help you learn how to wire simple electronic puzzles in your games with a minimum amount of curse words. No technical background required.

NOTE: This seminar compliments “Electrical Puzzles You Can Do”. This is part 1 of the seminar series. This is also a standalone seminar.

Speaker: Rob started designing and building escape rooms in 2016 - first as a freelancer and then with The Crux in Southern Ontario. With no technical background, Rob struggled with adding technology to his builds. Utilizing youtube, google, technical friends and the ever patient owners of the local electronics store, he slowly learned the secrets to basic electronics - going from simple reed switch puzzles to complicated multi-part installations. While by no means an electronics expert, Rob can help beginners learn the basic concepts and take the fear out of simple wiring projects.

Day Two, Workshop C Slot

Amanda Whitney-casting-031.jpg

Storytelling 2.0

To have an engaging story, you need engaging characters. Escape rooms often put the focus on characters such as eccentric millionaires, lost ghosts, and mad scientists just to name a few. But these are side characters. What about the main characters? In other words, what about your players? 

This workshop will take an in depth focus on the player character in escape rooms. What are their roles, what are their goals, and how does that affect the design and flow of the room? 

Speaker: Manda Whitney is a Toronto based writer and narrative designer. She is a co-host of the podcast Room Escape Divas and has helped design three large scale theatrical escape as well as consult on various other escape projects. She also writes and produces comedic scripts for theatre and webseries. When she is not writing, she is playing far more video and escape games than she would care to admit.  

Day One, Workshop A Slot


It’s All Fun And Games Until…

Emergencies can happen at any time and safety is often something that is overlooked until it’s too late! We all dread the arrival of the Fire Inspector and their report telling us what we can and cannot do. However, these types regulations are created to ensure visitors are attending a safe space. Did you know that employers covered by the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act are required to have first aid equipment and trained personnel available at all times? Did you know that if you are first aid certified you are protected from legal liability under Ontario’s Good Samaritan Act? Did you know that having a customer sign a waiver does not take away your responsibility due to negligence? These are just a few things that will be covered under the safety discussion.

Speaker: Justin Wentzell is the former owner of Break Out Zone Escape Rooms & Murder Mystery Games and has over 15 years’ experience in Safety & Emergency Services, Safety Planning and Advanced Care Training.

Day One, Workshop B Slot


Electrical Puzzles You Can Do

Did you like Rob's workshop? Feel like less of a dummy? If you would like a slightly more in depth look at how to use what he showed you in your place using electricity, or air or water I can help. Also included will be a quick talk about components and what you need to know about selecting them and how to keep your installations legal.

NOTE: This seminar compliments “Escape Room Tech for Dummies”. This is part 2 of the seminar series. This is also a standalone seminar for advanced owners and operators.

Speaker: Keith Charabaruk has been in the electrical trades for 25 years. He became a licensed electrician when he was 23 years old and started his own electrical contracting company. He's the co-founder of Durham Escapes in Whitby, Ontario which runs 9 escape rooms, as well as, runs off-site events.

Day Two, Workshop D Slot


Wowee Decor on a Budget

Escape rooms are the new sensation and part of keeping a successful escape game business going is good immersion. Great decor is what makes players “oooooo” and “awwww” when they walk into your room and what keeps them immersed inside the story throughout the game experience. The team at Escape Maze wants to show you how we create convincing decor on a budget. Learn our techniques to turn a so-so room into a wowee.

Speaker: Mike Preddy is a carpenter and contractor with 35 years of experience as well as an accomplished chainsaw artist and ice sculptor. Since 2014, he has been the lead of the creative design team in charge of all the builds at Escape Maze, PTBO Escape and other escape facilities. His sharp eye for detail and keen sense of design bring an authenticity to all his builds. Mike prides himself on creating beautiful, immersive decor on a shoestring budget while meeting deadlines.

Day Two, Workshop C Slot


Midweek Profit With School Trips

In this workshop Dylan is going to share some of the ways he convinced teachers into booking escape room adventures, what he gave them to convince their principals that the students would actually learn something, and how Escape Maze delivered on all those impossible expectations with fun, educational, and safe adventures for up to 140 students all at once!

Speaker: Plan A for Dylan Reinhart was to be a teacher, but Dylan didn’t wanna be stuck in a classroom. So Dylan escaped the confines of the classroom and worked as an Outdoor Educator. But he got tired of living on a private lake surrounded by unspoiled wilderness so he moved on. That’s when he found himself at Escape Maze in Peterborough. Drawing from his experience teaching, and planning trips with teachers he helped identify curriculum connections in the games that already existed, developed marketing tools that appeal to teachers, and even design games specifically to target school groups. Now Dylan is the co-owner and lead game guide at the Boardwalk Board Game Lounge - a board game cafe in the heart of Peterborough that you should definitely check out while you are in town!

Day Two, Workshop D Slot


How proper marketing can result in higher sales for your escape room

Just because you built something, doesn’t mean people will come. Escape room owners often make the huge mistake of not marketing properly because they need to spend their time and resources on their games. However, it’s really important to focus on bringing in new customers! Learn different strategies that are effective in marketing your escape room and building a strong and loyal allegiance to your brand.

Speaker: Melissa Eapen’s professional and personal journey is a great example of what happens when you merge the power of creativity, the love for business and the thirst for adventure into one. An established business owner, international traveler, passionate adventurer and inspired writer, Melissa is always on the lookout for ways she can continue to inspire, empower and encourage others. Melissa has won awards for marketing Improbable Escapes, and works with various travel organizations to market their destinations.

Day Two, Workshop D Slot


Red Herrings of Escape Business

Benito will be dispelling myths on opening and operating a new business in the Escape Game industry. He will touch upon pitfalls and misconceptions to avoid and best practices to consider if you are planning to open an escape facility.

Speaker: Keith and Benito and are co-owners of Durham Escape Rooms which has been open for 3+ Years. They have a 6200 sq ft facility with 9 experiences ranging in difficulty and complexity. Keith has a background in Electrical contracting and Benito has a background in Operational effectiveness and Marketing, both offline and online.

Day !, Workshop B Slot

Untitled design (15).png

Creating Escape Rooms for Television

Escape Rooms have made their way from locked private games to televised experiences.   Dr. Scott Nicholson and Shannon McDowell, from the BGNlab at Wilfrid Laurier University in Brantford, Ontario, have been involved with the development of a number of rooms that were televised for different international projects.  Through these projects, they have learned lessons about challenge design, build suggestions, and issues around cultural bias that come up when targeting a worldwide audience.  During this session, participants will learn about things to consider if given the chance to design an escape room for television or streaming.

Speakers: Dr. Scott Nicholson is a professor of Game Design and director of the BGNlab at Wilfrid Laurier University.  He's been doing R&D on escape rooms since 2014, although has been involved with live-action roleplaying for several decades.  He was the lead designer for the 2017 and 2019 Red Bull Mind Gamers Escape Room World Championship, as well as games for social media, museums, and community events. Shannon McDowell is a board game and puzzle designer who is obsessed with escape rooms, travel, Disney, and cats. Shannon currently works for the Wilfrid Laurier University game design and development program, where she researches cultural bias in escape rooms and assists in the development of the 2019 Red Bull Mind Gamers Escape Room World Championship.

Day Two, Workshop E Slot



Let’s open another location!

Tammy has owned and operated multiple escape rooms under the same brand. She will be sharing her experience in the things to consider before expanding into more locations.
- Going from Manager to leader, supporting the business from afar. Are you ready?
- Procedures and things to consider setting up before expanding; from legal, to branding, government, operations, etc.
- Having cohesive policies and procedures that keep you in the loop, support brand and culture of your business.
- Capitalizing on what you already have
- What works and what challenges to avoid

Speaker: Tammy Oliver-McCurdie
Tammy is the Owner and CEO of Lockdown Escape Rooms Inc – Red Deer and Calgary as well as Owner in Lockdown Design (Custom entertainment furniture and props). She opened her first escape room in 2015, second and third location in 2016. She built processes and procedures to support the success of those other locations. Her passion has always been in innovatively streamlining processes to meet company needs while ultimately creating an amazing customer experience. She finds it fun and rewarding to work in her own Escape Room business and always open to sharing her knowledge with others.

Day 1: Workshop A Slot


Running large scale escape events

Terminus was a 3-hour escape game adventure aboard a moving train. The creators of Terminus are going to pull back the curtain and give you a glimpse of the behind the scenes action that created this event. You will hear about their pitfalls, hurdles and what went into creating a large scale escape event. Running a game for 140 players at once has a unique set of challenges. Hear this team's recommendations and find out what they believe is important for setting up a fun event of this grand size. This will be a panel presentation with lots of opportunity for questions.

Terminus Team
Errol Elumir creates large scale theatrical escape events and puzzle hunts and a co-host of the podcast Room Escape Divas Manda Whitney a co-host of the podcast Room Escape Divas and has helped design three large scale theatrical escape as well as consult on various other escape projects. Nick Newell and Ray Davies are co-owners of Panic Factory and helped create Terminus and ran it for several weeks.

Day 1: Workshop B Slot


Player's Perspective

In this talk, David Spira of will provide context and recommendations for anyone opening or operating an escape room business in 2019. People enter escape rooms from a diverse array of backgrounds. This talk will cover how the bar has been raised in this industry and pitfalls you need to look out for. It will also address strengths and weaknesses of industry players from other backgrounds; painting a picture of where this industry has evolved from and where it might go.

Speaker: publishes daily well-researched, rational, and reasonably humorous escape room reviews, design tips, players tips, and industry commentary. Our mission is to share our love of letting strangers lock us inside giant puzzles and to push the makers of those giant puzzles to create the best experiences they can. David and Lisa Spira have been featured speakers at many escape room conferences including TransWorld's Room Escape Show in 2016, 2017 and 2018, Up the Game in The Netherlands in 2017 and 2018, and WroEscape in Poland in 2017. They also speak at their own event, Escape Immerse Explore, which takes escape room enthusiasts on personally-tailored escape room tours of top tier

Day 2: Workshop C Slot


Actors and Games

Actors are a tool most escape room owners choose to ignore, but having a character immersed into the story can give your business an edge and help you create experiences you couldn’t build otherwise. This workshop will focus on the good, the bad, and the ugly of using actors in escape games big and small, and discus both gameplay and business perspectives.

Speaker: Eric Boudreau is the owner of Escape Capers YYC, Calgary’s only hosted escape games. In the past four years he has designed and built five hosted experiences, as well as two large-scale, theatrical escape game events, and has personally hosted hundreds of teams as they try to escape.

Day 2: Workshop E Slot