In short the Escort Quest is a big game that is played in two-player partnerships at outdoor, crowded locations. The goal is for partnerships to collect items in the public space and return them to a cash-out locale, with the twist that players are tied together and one of them blindfolded. While on the outside the game looks like a bunch of kids wandering around the park looking absurd, in practice, the design gets at forming strong bond of trust within your teammate and allows players to completely rethink our designed game space.
The game was initially developed in last spring’s Introduction to Game Design course here at the NYU Game Center, with Grant Reid, Robert Meyer, Andrew Gaffney, and Eszter Osvald. It has since been in continued development and just recently been invited to be a part of IndieCade’s 2011 Big Games Program. This video explains the rules loosely based off an early version:
The Escort Quest is a game where teams of blindfolded players are directed by their partners through relatively crowded public areas in order to pickup certain objects, worth varying points, and return them to the starting point. The teams of two consist of a Director who cannot move of their own will, and the Actor they instruct. The Actor is blindfolded and must navigate the space and collect certain objects using only the auditory direction of their partner, whom they’re tied to via an 8 foot rope fed through a pool noodle.
The final role in this game is that of the Moderator. Moderators are responsible for placing the objects throughout the game space. Directors may watch the Moderators conduct this process of the game, but the Actors must be blindfolded. Once the objects are placed in the game space, a countdown begins and the Directors race the Actors to capture as many objects as possible. Lastly, players may ‘cash out’ at any time by returning to the starting point. Players to ‘cash out’ first will gain the most bonus points, and each proceeding team will gain less and less for this action.
After tallying the points players will then switch roles and experience what it’s like to play the game in a new and interesting perspective. On the third round, players may choose who will take on what role. The team of two with the most cumulative points at the end of the third round wins.
More Rules & Setup:
The game begins by players breaking up into teams of two, however, at least one person must be left over to act as the moderator. The teams designate which player will start as the Actor and which will be the Director, they then tie themselves together and blindfold the Actor. Meanwhile the Moderator will place three sets of objects in interesting locations around the playing field.
There is one “easy” set of objects, each worth 1 point, that are placed on the ground and close to the start. Additionally, there are one set of “hard” objects each worth 3 points to be placed in the farthest, most difficult and most creative locations. Furthermore there is a third, “social” set of objects either given to pedestrians or put in places that will force social interaction to obtain. Set up the game so that the quantity of each set of objects is always two easy, one hard, and .5 social (rounded up) objects per team playing. So if ten teams are playing, set out twenty easy objects, and ten hard objects and six social objects.
Director’s may watch where the objects are being placed, but the Actor’s must already be blindfolded during this process. All the teams start at a designated starting “Gate” which serves as the beginning point and ending point of play. When the moderator says “Start” teams may go out and collect as many objects as they want. The objects are communal, any team can get any object.
When teams are satisfied with their bounty, they may return to the starting gate in order to “Cash Out.” However, the first team to Cash Out gets a large bonus, the second team to cash out gets a slightly smaller bonus, and same with the third team after that. The remaining teams will not receive a “Cash Out” bonus for returning to the starting “Gate”.
We encourage teams to play this game in three rounds so that each player may experience both roles, and then may pick which role they want to take on for the final round. Of course, the points would be cumulatively totaled and the team with the most points would be deemed the winner at the end of the third round.