writing & game design
In 2016, I hid a treasure chest inside one of Calgary's public libraries, as part of Treasure League — my monthly, citywide treasure hunt. What I didn't know, was that a team from the library was playing that month, and that I’d be invited by the CEO of the Calgary Public Library Foundation to discuss future opportunities to collaborate.
Together, we hatched plans for Locked Library fundraising events — building on the idea of escape rooms usually enjoyed by 4-6 players at a time, and reimagining them as massive live events for 200-1300 concurrent players.
My role is to conceive and create every aspect of the gameplay, including in-game materials (like passages of fiction, game sheets, and visual puzzles) as well as fully scripted and narrated video content. The library foundation’s in-house team produces the event itself, organizing dozens of volunteers and staging the game elements throughout each venue.
To date, we’ve completed 6 events. The next event is on September 20, 2019 (during the Beakerhead science & art festival) at the stunning New Central Library. Tickets are available at LibraryAfterDark.ca.
LOCKED LIBRARY 5: THE Magic bOOK
NEW CENTRAL LIBRARY | 02/2019
On February 2, 2019, we transformed Calgary’s stunning New Central Library into the world’s biggest escape room for one night.
Over 1200 players roamed all four levels of the 240,000 sq. ft. library, solving puzzles that took them through a dozen literary genres. ”It’s easy to escape into a good book,” they’d been told upon arrival, “But what if you had escape from one?”.
Through ticket sales, the event raised over $50,000, with the proceeds going to support library programs citywide.
LOCKED LIBRARY 4: LAB ESCAPE
(OLD) CENTRAL LIBRARY | 09/2018
Locked Library returned to the old Central Library for a six-storey escape event during Beakerhead.
Over 700 people — playing as adorable literary creatures created by scientists who had fused animal DNA with classic books — worked in teams of 4 to gather escape items and walk out the front doors disguised as lab employees.
LOCKED LIBRARY 3: ATLANTIS
CROWFOOT LIBRARY | 03/2018
Held at Calgary's busiest library branch, this game was themed with the theft of a coveted book from the royal library of Atlantis.
Over two nights, more than 350 people raced the clock and each other to build a suspect list, identify the culprit, and clear their own names.
LOCKED LIBRARY 2: SPACE PRISON
(OLD) CENTRAL LIBRARY | 09/2017
Themed as a space prison for library crimes, this event gave over 900 players 3 hours to solve an elaborate puzzle on each of the library’s 7 floors and jettison the escape pod — a fire engine in the library’s foyer.
The basement walls were covered in star maps. A prisoner orientation film ran on a loop in the 2nd floor movie theatre. The upper floors stood in for a medical bay, engineering, and crew quarters. More than $30,000 was raised for the library foundation, in just 3 hours.
LOCKED LIBRARY 1: AI TAKEOVER
FISH CREEK LIBRARY | 02/2017
The first event took place over two sold out nights, with 200 players each night Held captive by a self-aware library computer, teams solved puzzles to collect 7 books.
Fish Creek Library is a glass pyramid with three floors. Players solved a series of puzzles to progress to the top. In the final task, they fed their books into the library’s return slot, then watched as the books travelled down the conveyor belt, and were sorted into bins automatically. The letters on those bins could be rearranged to spell the code to a cryptex cylinder.
Anders J. Svensson currently resides in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, and is available for hire as a freelance copywriter or creative consultant by clients worldwide.
His writing services include ads & campaigns, biographies, creative consulting, direct mail, ebooks, editing, game design, naming & taglines, pitch decks, scriptwriting, social media, and website content.
Feel free to contact Anders to discuss your project.