Attending RECON Made Me Question My Humanity

Two days in August felt made for escaping. That’s when RECON, the Reality Escape Convention, took place. This year, the event took place in a completely virtual environment. The event offered conversations from all angles about escape rooms and immersive experiences. The programming looked at everything from how to best incorporate hints in your escape room designs to creative puzzle designs. And on the interactive side? Attendees with a Play Pass had the opportunity to play brand new games, try out limited run experiences, and basically immerse themselves in escape room goodness. The schedule contained enough options that it was hard to choose.

Key art for the Reality Escape Convention, RECON, with a graphic phoenix behind an eye in a triangle


While I didn’t have as much available time for RECON as I’d hoped, I still got to try out one utterly memorable experience: Walking Shadow Theatre Company’s Reboot. Part interactive theater and part escape room, Reboot made me question my humanity. I closed my laptop after the 90ish minute experience ended and sat quietly to process what happened. I won’t go into spoiler territory, but I will share that Reboot makes you confront some big existential questions about technology and identity.

The premise of Reboot, which features live, scripted performances in a completely online environment, is straightforward. You’re a hacker, and you’ve attracted the attention of a covert government agent—you and everyone in the group you play with. Agent Halo asks for all of your help in completing a current investigation. But it sure seems like Halo has a different mission up her sleeve…

The logo for Reboot in orange, yellow, and brown with a retro computer

Walking Shadow Theatre Company

To help Halo, you and your group have to work through a series of collaborative puzzles. As someone relatively new to escape rooms and quite worried about letting down my group by being terrible, I enjoyed the puzzles. They felt challenging but not in that defeating you’ve run into a brick wall kind of way. When we got stuck in one instance, the performer portraying Halo gave us a gentle in character nudge. And when Halo’s true mission became apparent? Things got more interactive. And intense.

Reboot delivered when it came to storytelling. The performers pulled me into Halo’s story and the mystery at hand. I didn’t expect an escape room to dig so deep and yet… well, I’m still not sure about some of the questions I confronted.

If you’re interested in checking out Reboot, Walking Shadow Theatre Company offers tickets for a range of dates here. And if you’re curious about RECON, the event will return in August 2022.

Nerdist was a media partner for RECON.

Amy Ratcliffe is the Managing Editor for Nerdist and the author of A Kid’s Guide to Fandom, available now. Follow her on  Twitter and Instagram.

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