It’s a room. You’re locked in it. And you have to escape.
Cory Reeder, who has dabbled in everything from video production to game design, started a small escape room business.
Reeder, owner of Mighty Awesome productions, describes escape rooms as a fully immersive, team-building experience in which the roomie is trying to uncover a narrative based mystery through numerical and logical puzzles. A kind of screenless live game as he puts it.
“It’s a chance to be Sherlock Holmes, to leave the rest of the world behind and step into a live environment, a whole other world,” Reeder said.
His current business places you in an Indiana Jones-esque office which you have to raid and rummage through for clues to open a large wooden container placed besides a wall.
Reeder discovered escape rooms while working in Los Angeles. Although he described the first one he did as “not the greatest,” he was hooked on the prospect of stepping into the shoes of the aforementioned Sherlock Holmes.
Being laid off from his video production job, Reeder described as the jump-start for opening his own escape room business.
Reeder explained his love for escape rooms as being able to impart a story in an interactive format.
“It’s not just my story now, it will become your story,” Reeder explained.
This new business venture has also been made possible with the assistance of his girlfriend and business partner Kelly Falcone, a health and kinesiology professor at Palomar college.
Though most of Falcone’s work experience has been in education, she describes her boyfriend’s entrepreneurial as a fun way to try something else out.
Falcone was introduced to escape rooms on one of her first dates with Reeder.
“We found that we kept talking about that hour (in the escape room) for the next 48 hours,” Falcone said. “We just realized that it was such a cool thing to do where you’re away from cell phones and you do actually have to work together.”
Reeder praises the social dynamism that comes about in family in the escape room. This is due to the tangible need for interpersonal communication between people to solve the puzzles.
As he explains it, “your best tool in that room is each other.”
Outside of families, the escape room can also work as an exercise in corporate team building. This is done through a manager being able to sit outside the booth and see through the looking glass of a monitor who strong leaders are.
“Everyone kind of emerges as their true self, rather than the position they were hired for,” Reeder said.
Reeder describes getting stuck on a puzzle as an inevitability. To help participants break through the mental wall in the escape room he is constantly monitoring from the other side doling out specially catered hints over the a projector in the room.
“We haven’t had anyone make it through the room without hints,” Reeder said. “The way we developed our room is more about solving the mystery, rather than escaping the room.”
Reeder will be debuting his new noir-themed escape room “Twilight in Tinsel Town” near the end of May. He describes it as being inspired by an old typewriter and projector he found while thrifting.