March 17, 2016

Unity Field Trip: The Crystal Maze

Unity is a creative agency made up of around 30 members of staff who use culture to shape how they see the world around them. We are set monthly Field Trip missions to ensure we stay informed and culturally current.

This month we had the chance to try our hand at The Crystal Maze. Tapping into our nostalgia for the turn of the decade, it offered us a chance to pit our wits against some tricky challenges and beat other agencies. Here’s what our one of Field Trippers, Alice Austin, thought:

Start the fans please

How many creatives does it take to solve a maze?
Answer: Eight. One rolling around in a barrel and seven screaming instructions.

Unless you’ve had your head buried in the deepest Aztec sand, you’re probably aware that the siren call of the 90s, ‘start the fans please’, is currently echoing across a building in central London. Yes, the Crystal Maze is here – and it’s not just on telly. Instead, the crowd-funded game is open for everyone to have a go.

And this 90s-childhood-dream-come-true is the reason that I, along with half a dozen other colleagues who formed Unity’s Crystal Maze team, find myself screaming, “YOU NEED TO PUT THE EGG IN THE CATAPULT,” to a colleague within five minutes of the Force Field theme tune being played.

Our time in the maze begins in the Medieval Zone. Big Momma – a short, bearded man dressed somewhere between a Machiavellian fool and a wizard – is performing the Maze Master role that Richard O’Brien will be forever famous for. What Big Momma lacks in harmonica-playing, he makes up for in maze hosting.

maze-3

Aside from the Maze Master role itself, Crystal Maze remains true to the original. The games lived up to – maybe even surpassed – my childhood memories from the start (our first team member had to launch himself into a barrel and roll uphill to gain a crystal). Every successive task was impeccably thought out and equally silly.

Travelling between the Aztec, Industrial, Futuristic and Medieval zones – scaling walls and shimmying down ladders – all guarantees a huge grin.

We solved puzzles with giant spanners and bolts, travelled through time in our own personal space ships and each overcame personal stage fright (if it’s slightly unnerving to have seven people scream at you while you’re working out what to do during a three-minute game, it’s slightly more unnerving when they’re your colleagues).

maze-2

And then the grand finale. The Crystal Dome is every bit as impressive as you could possibly imagine – and unlike in the television series, it does not require production staff with fans underneath to keep the tokens afloat. As the gold tokens start flapping around our faces and eyes, our Maze Master yells the phrase we’ve all been waiting for.

maze-1

People may say it’s about the taking part. And we totally agree. But we’d like you all to know: we beat the three other creative agencies taking part that night.

Crystal Maze has set itself the toughest of tasks. By bringing our childhoods to life, it risks playing with our most sacred memories. Luckily, it succeeds on every level.

To find out more about The Crystal Maze, head to its website

Unity’s Field Trip programme sees all staff (from interns to our co-founders) embarking on a challenging journey into the heart of London’s arts and culture scene. If you’re interested in knowing more, then please email our Culture Editor on paul@hellounity.com