Wow! Has it been another year already!? It’s tough to believe that Rogue Events is now two years old. Is this what being a parent feels like? One day you propose a concept then boom, our infantile company is stumbling around on its own two feet after two years. As the holiday season approaches, we’re reflecting on the good times so far as well as peering down the long and winding road that is our future.
Where we came from
I’ll keep this section short, as I’ve talked about it before, but Rogue Events was essentially born out of a mix of a desire to change lives, determination, optimism and frustration. After spending countless hours complaining and bemoaning our jobs, the shackles that is the corporate engine, the low wages for what we do and perhaps with a little too much time on our hands we decided it was time to stop whining and mobilise. We wanted to create, we wanted to impact lives as a big cog, rather than a small one; we were going to start...something!
Having worked together on a number of projects before, my co-founder and I fought through several ideas. What skills did we have? What interests do we have? And that’s when we stumbled out of the darkness and into the world of live action role playing and immersive experiences. Of course, the answer is obvious! A wizarding school!
Okay, it might seem a bit of a stretch, but we’d run events alongside our normal roles and Stuart had worked in events before. We saw some amazing experiences happening around the globe and could immediately see opportunities in other areas from what was initially Bothwell, ranging from education and training to how the medium can help people struggling with anxiety and mental health.. So we launched our Kickstarter, and the rest, you could say, is history.
What we’ve done
Take yourselves back to 2017 if you will, Hull was the city of culture, Jeremy Corbyn high-fived a boob, Wonder Woman kicked ass on the silver screen and Salt Bae showed us how to season a steak with flare. Are we there yet? Good. For us, it also included successfully launching Bothwell School of Witchcraft via our Kickstarter campaign. The reaction? Something along the lines of “Balls, we’ve actually got to pull this off now”. For those who don’t know it, Bothwell School of Witchcraft is a 4 day wizarding school, live action role playing experience. This is to say, you get to become a real witch in a real school of magic (well, kind of). Bothwell was a success, in no small part thanks to the enthusiastic witches and wizards that attended as well as our fabulous volunteers. So, with 2017 drawing to a close, we knew what we had to do, more!
Coming into 2018, we’d launched ticket sales for two Bothwells that year, started a new live action event peer-to-peer web service with some new people and begun plans for a new event. In March, we ran Aces and Operatives in collaboration with The Game Theatre. Aces and Operatives is a spy-themed evening we ran at the absolutely stunning RAF Club in London. It was truly a great event to run, with everyone tuxedoed up plotting to take down our other guests and the overseas collaboration was a fantastic learning experience. In May, we sold off the assets of the aforementioned peer-to-peer website, it was challenging working with people all over the globe. That challenge just bred more tenacity at Rogue Events as we found, when we put our heads together, collaborate with others and, at times, stick to our own convictions, we can achieve success.
By August, after our second Bothwell that year, it got to the point where, in order to grow as a company it couldn’t be a part-time undertaking any more. We entered our make or break moment. We hadn’t made enough for both us to work full-time, so I took the plunge into unknown and quit my job as a Systems Engineer. (I kindda wrote a whole blog post about it which you can check out here.) It’s no small feat to grow this company into something much more sustainable, but we’re working hard as we head into 2019.
Where we’re going
So, that leaves us with what’s next with Rogue Events. Well, after selling enough tickets for the April edition of Bothwell School of Witchcraft, we’ve released dates for August as well. We’re also hoping to put a Bothwell Youth Edition on the table and some further wizarding experiences. We believe there is so much space in the UK for immersive experiences like Bothwell, another successful example would be our friends over at Secret Cinema. As millennials who grew up glued to Play Stations and X Factor, more and more people are looking for “unplugged” experiences. That’s why we’re expanding our events in that regard, we’ve got two new events we’ve already released to the public; “Murder on the 10:16” and “Survival: The Rising” with more releases on the horizon.
I’m particularly excited about Murder on the 10:16; the classic murder mystery game revisited. Rather than actors playing out scenes at a dinner and guessing “Who Dun It”, we’ll be immersing people in a real story. They’ll become the cast and crew in a Murder Mystery adventure, inspired by Murder on the Orient Express, to name just one among many crime fiction hits, that will dunk guests headfirst into a 1930s setting. The thematic setting, wouldn’t be complete of course, without a steam train and period open carriages to whisk people away on the journey of a lifetime and an experience to remember.
Survival: The Rising is slightly different. This event is born out of the thought that I’m sure everyone has had while watching the Walking Dead or 28 Days Later; “I reckon I could survive the zombie apocalypse!” We’re going to put that to the test. With just some basic survival training and a lean bag of kit, we’ll be sending people out into the zombie apocalypse. From there on out, it’s sink or swim. Can you source food? Water? Will you avoid the zombies or tackle them head on? Where will you shelter for the night? Will you team up with others or make it on your own? We’re giving people the chance to find out!
But it’s not all about the experiences, having witnessed some of the good, the bad and the ugly of corporate training days, we think immersive and role playing pursuits have a huge part to play in that space. Why tell your Engineering or HR employees what it’s like in sales with a seminar when they can develop a product, brand it and pitch it themselves!? Making a fire in the woods doesn’t quite cut for us as a team bonding exercise; envelop teams in new environments, with different roles outside their comfort zone that’ll test their skills. We’re really excited about putting together a training brochure and working with different businesses to add some life and vibrance to their training programs.
It doesn’t just stop at businesses either, the same applies to education. Everyone is excited about VR, but the reality is the technology isn’t there yet. Besides, what better than an “unplugged” trip engaging students with potion making to teach chemistry, or creating a poignant teaching moment through storytelling. Living museums go part of the way in exploring this territory, but there’s a whole bunch of studies, in fact, it’s practically common knowledge, that learning by doing is the best way to both engage and cement learning.
Remember that question I asked in the first part of this blog post? What skills do we have? Well, between us we’ve managed to accrue a whole host of complementary knowledge and experience. I myself have done countless leadership and team working exercises with the military, so has Stuart who is still currently serving in the RAF Reserves. Not content with just military experience, we’ve also done our time in the corporate world on leadership, team working and personal development courses. As a systems engineer I’ve worked on highly complex systems with large and small teams bridging the gap between project management and technical teams. The complexity means I’ve both learned, seen in action and practiced project management at the highest level, whether it be lean manufacturing, agile practices and even configuration control. Stuart compliments this knowledge having worked in business development, sales and corporate events management. All of this BEFORE starting Rogue Events where we’ve honed our self-taught knowledge of marketing, social media campaigns, crowdfunding, website building and experience design.
Okay, that paragraph quickly become a combined CV and there’s a whole host I’ve missed off, but here’s the crux, that’s a bunch of useful stuff that all compliments each other. Agile practices help us run our events effectively and effective systems analysis helps us bring a scientific approach to our marketing campaigns. We want to share it! We’ve already helped a lot of people out with their own projects, which is highly rewarding. So we’re also looking to expand the consulting side of our business too!
So, there you have it. That’s a brief look at what we’ve achieved in 2018 and a quick peek into our bag of tricks for 2019. I hope you found this read enjoyable, Rogue Events is growing up far too quickly and like any proud parent, we’ll continue to over-share pictures, stories and anecdotes along the way. If you do know anyone who might be interested in pulling Rogue Events in to help with education and training or could use some consulting, we’re chomping at the bit to start that part of our journey so let them know about us!
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This article was written by our CEO and Creative Director Cameron Readman