Testing at the Escape Room World Championship; an Experience Talk

Th3     Start Time : 10:30     End Time : 11:00

Background: Escape rooms are games where a group of participants collaboratively discovers and solves puzzles and challenges in a room (or set of rooms) in order to accomplish a goal within a set amount of time.

I played my first escape room in 2013, started blogging about them in 2015, and represented the UK in a world championship organised by Red Bull in Budapest in 2017. Afterwards, I wrote “In my opinion, the number one failing in [the World Championship] was testing”. The team from Red Bull read my full analysis and asked me if I was willing to take time off from my day job and work for them as Test Lead for the 2019 competition. It was the cutting edge of escape room design, working with the leading academic in the field, a four-time world puzzling champion and of course, the team at Red Bull.

This presentation covers a little of how I ended up getting that opportunity and a lot about what learning I took from my day job to my hobby job and what learning I brought back with me. It covers the parallels between software testing and escape room testing, with concrete examples of things that went wrong with testing in the competition and how that helped me to do better testing when I returned to my company.

I’ll talk about:

  • The importance of getting domain expertise on to a project,
  • Why getting involved early in the development cycle is so beneficial
  • How to get the requirements right (and the consequences of not doing so!)
  • The pitfalls and advantages of continuous testing
  • How not to test documentation


Along the way, I’ll share relevant humorous anecdotes from the event such as:

  • how a lack of real-world testing led to one of the escape rooms overheating during the finals
  • Having to throw away an expensive, custom-made carpet because we’d overlooked an important test oracle.
  • How I managed to get myself locked in a room that I’d helped create and was unable to escape…


Key Takeaways:

  1. Get involved as early as possible in the dev cycle – more influence on product, less rework of code, better testing
  2. There are more requirements than you know – seek them out, share them, fight for them and use them in your testing
  3. Learning isn’t confined to your primary work. Use every part of your work (and life!) as a way of honing your test skills.


Back to Programme

  • Speaker

  • Ken Ferguson


    Ken Ferguson - Software Development Manager, Metaswitch Networks, United Kingdom

    Ken works at Metaswitch Networks in London as a Software Development Manager in their Virtualized IMS group leading a team of both developers and testers. During his twenty-year career he’s worked on both sides of the tester/developer relationship using both Waterfall and Agile methodologies.

    In his spare time, he writes about escape rooms on http://thelogicescapesme.com/. In 2019, he took time out from his job to be the Test Lead on the Red Bull Escape Room World Championships.

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