So here’s my second and final blog post about my experience of taking part in The Lucky Ones. Two things to know before you read on:

  1. If you read my first blog post and decided you’d like to take part in the game yourself, don’t read this second post as there are more spoilers. Instead, head straight to The Riptide website and register your interest for the summer experience.
  2. Just to manage expectations and so you aren’t disappointed at the end of this blog post, I never got to actually complete the game. Despite being told I would be able to delay my ending (I knew in advance that I’d be out of the country during the last week) the people involved ended up being too busy on other projects so it was a bit of a damp squib in the end, but that doesn’t change the fact that the rest of it was excellent. (I should add, for the sake of transparency, that I was given a part refund later on for doing a blog post about the game, so I didn’t end up paying the full £40, so at least they didn’t charge me full price and then not finish it.)

Right, now you know that, on to part 2!

So, I entered the code and stepped into Victoria House. A lady was waiting there and told me to follow her into the lift. It was at this point I decided I would have to really get into character and immerse myself in the game, otherwise it would just feel (even more) awkward being a passive audience member rather than actively participating in the experience. I tried asking her questions about how she knew Lucy and how did I know whether to trust her, but the mystery woman revealed no details other than saying Max had sent her. She handed me a key and told me to go into a room.

I think I was more excited at this point rather than nervous, and was ignoring the voice inside my head that was telling me I was about to enter a locked room that a stranger had shown me to on my own. The room inside was a studio apartment and it looked like it had been ransacked. The bed hadn’t been made, the bin was knocked over, there was stuff everywhere…

I looked around, marvelling at the amount of effort the team had obviously gone to, but I also couldn’t escape the feeling that I was being watched. In hindsight I’m assuming I wasn’t, but it was really creepy to think that “the game makers” could be watching my every move.

There was a wall of photos, the kind you always see in crime dramas and thrillers, but I was really conscious about how much time I had (or didn’t have) so I only gave it a cursory glance. I did spot a photo of one of the other bloggers who I knew was taking part which was surprising. Was everyone on the wall taking part in the game or were they actors? There was so much to take in – were the books on the table clues or had they been chosen at random? – that I didn’t manage to absorb everything properly. After a few minutes, Max sent me a text telling me that Lucy had left a message saying I could help myself to some apple juice, so I went to the fridge and picked up the bottle, spotting immediately that there was a key in the bottom of it.

This was the start of my own personal escape game, and it was great fun. Max kept texting me clues that led to me finding pieces of a floor plan of the room. Eventually I found an old coin in a box under the bed. This had been the best part of the experience so far, but frustratingly I hadn’t managed to enjoy it as much as I could have done as I was so worried about my phone battery dying! I always charge my phone every night, but recently my phone had started running out of battery after a few hours, and I was really worried that it would die before I received all the clues. It also meant I didn’t take as many photos as I would have liked.

The mystery lady came knocking at the door as soon as I text Max to say I’d found the coin, and told me that I had to leave quickly as “someone” was on their way. As I left the building she told me to watch out for the woman across the road in the mustard hat who was spying on me and would try to follow me. I had to lose her.

Again, I ended up finding this really fun rather than creepy. It did make me realise what a rubbish spy I’d be though, as I pretty much instantly forgot what the woman looked like, and if it hadn’t been for the mustard hat, I would have been clueless. My years of watching Alias did not pay off! I did manage to lose her pretty quickly though, dodging down a side street and then heading into Waterstones so I could hide behind some books and keep an eye on who entered the store. (I also ended up buying a couple of books whilst I was there – just to keep up the ruse of course.)

I was properly into the game now and excited to see what would happen next. When I got home (and charged up my phone) I took a closer look at the picture I took of the photos on the wall. Freakily, I spotted a couple of photos of me. (My bright jade coat makes me quite recognisable.) They’d been taken when I was in the library as part of my first task. I remember thinking when I was sat there that there were a couple of people with laptops and I wondered if they were part of the game.

Over the next week I got a few texts from Adam, asking what I’d been up to recently (I didn’t mention that I’d been helping Lucy) and then telling me I had performed “excellently so far in [my] trial month at Capital Experience” and asking if I’d like to boost my chances of becoming a Premium Member. I had to pick a number between one and eight, and this resulted in me being tasked with meeting a friend for a nice meal, coffee or walk, and then sending Capital Experience evidence.

Luckily I was meeting with my friend Cat a few days later at Kith & Kin in Chapel Allerton, and remembered to take a photo as “proof”.

Fried chicken and bacon pancakes

A few days later I then got a text from Max with an instruction from Lucy. I was told to go the Everyman Cinema in Trinity and ask for two tickets for “Brief Encounter.” This would have completely thrown me at the beginning of the experience, but I was properly into it now and didn’t think twice about doing this random task. I managed to combine the quest with meeting my friend Sarah for tea at Trinity Kitchen.

Although I wasn’t as nervous about going to the Everyman, I did still feel a bit silly. I said to the woman at the ticket desk “I really hope you know about this otherwise this is going to be a very weird and awkward conversation.” Luckily she laughed and said she did, and asked for one shilling – the coin I’d found at the flat – in return for the tickets. Instead of cinema tickets however, I was given a USB stick. I wanted to race home straight away and look at what was on it!

When I eventually did get home, I inserted the USB stick into my MacBook and nothing happened. Nooo! I tried it on James’ computer and a folder did open this time, but it was password protected. I couldn’t open any of the files, but I could see what they were called. They were names of all the players (I’m assuming they were anyway as I recognised a few, including my own name) and some had titles such as “Facebook header image”.

The questions I’d been asking myself intensified. If this USB stick was supposedly from Lucy, then why did she have all these files on Capital Experience customers? And why did she have those photos of everyone in her flat? It’s one thing for Capital Experience to have them, but why would she need them? What was she planning on doing?

I then started receiving letters and emails from Capital Experience asking me if I had heard from Lucy, and reminding me that my good behaviour as a member would be rewarded. Which side should I choose?? I was only helping Lucy because she was the first person who got in touch. What happens if she was actually a “baddie”?

I had so many unanswered questions. I tried asking Max and Lucy for some further information, but got no answers. I ended up getting really frustrated with myself that I couldn’t decide whether I should be helping the rebel employee or the large corporation. I didn’t have enough information to make such an important decision!

All the while, James and I were trying to crack the password for the files on the USB stick. We tried so many different combinations – anything we could think of related to the experience, both the obvious and the obscure, but no such luck.

And that’s when my experience kind of ran out. The other players got their finale when they returned the USB stick, the activity depending on whether they chose to help Lucy or Capital Experience. I had to post the USB stick off to an address and that was really the last of it… If you want to find out one of the endings, you can read BeckyBecky’s blog post.

Despite this disappointing ending for me, I’d still really recommend taking part in The Lucky Ones. It’s just so different. It definitely wasn’t perfect, but I’m sure they’ll make some improvements for the next time.

Cracking the code was fun but then it was frustrating not being able to work out the phone number – was that because I just couldn’t figure it out, or had they not given enough information? I wondered the same about the encrypted files on the USB stick – was I supposed to be able to work out the password or again, was I not provided with the relevant information? I was also waiting for the theatre element – I thought there’d be a grand ending with a few actors involved, probably in a flash mob style somewhere in the city centre, actually acting something out, but the interaction with real people was minimal. It was hard to know how much to read into things as well – what was human error and what was a red herring? Perhaps it was just because I didn’t get a finale, but I had so many unanswered questions – the story had never really been fleshed out – and I’m not sure I would have received all the answers. I also think I would have enjoyed it more if I had still been working in Leeds; it would have been easier to do the tasks that didn’t take up much time like picking up the first envelope and exchanging the coin for the USB stick.

Saying all that, there were some really brilliant bits. The mini escape room in the flat was great and just the amount of effort that had gone in to everything was really appreciated. I loved receiving the brown envelopes and small things like the quality of the paper was impressive. I know that might sound daft, but it’s details like that that make you feel like you’re taking part in a proper game worth the money, rather than a one-man band’s DIY project.

This experience was particularly timely as well. I was taking part in it at the same time as the Cambridge Analytica scandal, and it did make me question how much about myself I was sharing online. It felt like it could be the beginning of a Black Mirror episode (luckily it never got that dark!)

It’s really weird taking part in the experience playing as yourself and not knowing who to trust. You don’t want to be judged for the decisions you make. Do you make the choices you normally would, or do you take this opportunity to try something different? Replying to the texts as well was odd – I was never quite sure if i should play a character or be myself.

It’s worth doing The Lucky Ones for the story to tell alone. It’s been a brilliant talking point and really funny to see people’s reactions. Half my friends have been absolutely horrified, saying it sounded completely mad (and a little dangerous!) and the other half have said it sounded really fun and exactly the kind of thing they’d love to do.

You have to really want to get involved to properly enjoy The Lucky Ones. There’s no point doing it half heartedly otherwise you don’t get the full effect. It’s not often you get to take part in a month-long game, so it’s worth investing the time and playing the character, even if that character’s just yourself.

If you do end up taking part in the summer instalment of The Lucky Ones, please let me know how you get on. I’d love to know what Riptide keep the same and what they do differently, and how you decide to play it!