Gamemaster Spotlight – The Locked Room
Why did you get involved in the Escape Room business?
My girlfriend (Susan) and I were in Prague as part of a Eurotrip holiday, and when we checked Tripadvisor the top 2 things to do in the city were Escape Rooms! We played both of those rooms and we were instantly hooked! Susan thought it would be a great activity to bring back to Calgary, but we were both working full time jobs so it seemed like a pipe dream. I met with a couple of entrepreneurial acquaintances who were into creative business ideas (an ugly Christmas Sweater store and a Zombie themed fun run) and I casually pitched the idea of opening up an Escape Room to them… 3 months later we opened the doors for our first Locked Room location!
Our core team consists of 3 partners – we are all engineers by trade but we have our own roles or niches within the company.
Adil: Adil is our construction lead & overall project manager. He helps keep us on schedule & on task (escape games are so diverse that we end up on all sorts of tangents!), and brainstorms on the best ways to turn our designs into reality.
Kyle: Kyle is our marketing / web guy, and also shares the operations manager role. He does the bulk of our graphic design work & he also ensures that our financials are up to date.
We also spend a lot of time working together & brainstorming new ideas.
EGR: What does Tetris, DK and a whole lot of Yoshis have in common? One particularly clever escape theme.
Our rooms have a solid mixture of immersion, puzzles and some tech. We strive to make things fair but fun, and we do our best to avoid frustrating or confusing players with puzzles and/or locks. We do regular maintenance on everything & keep hundreds of spare locks in our back room – we change them out as soon as they start to look worn down or stick!
We also have more creative & interesting themes than your standard office or study (a zombie apocalypse cannibal warehouse, a pirate ship, video game themed room, etc).
And lastly, we have a diverse & large team of game masters who go the extra mile to ensure that players have a great experience and are provided with quality customer service. We play host over 6000 happy participants a month.
Honestly we’ve seen it all. People have tried to go through the ceiling, dismantled all sorts of obscure furniture pieces, dug up floorboards, written on every surface imaginable and destroyed many ‘one of a kind’ props.
I think one of the most memorable for me was a group of 13 year old girls that were in our Pirate themed room for a birthday partly shortly after we opened. Putting 8 young hormonal girls in a confined space inevitably led to conflict, and while they were successful at escaping the room I am sure that there were some hurt feelings and declarations of ‘I’m never talking to you again’ along the way. One of the girls (she couldn’t have been more than 100lbs) also thought it would be a good idea to move a heavy (300lbs+) desk halfway across the room a well.
We also had a group of girls (who were older than 13) that snuck a bottle of scotch into a room in their purse – they came out fairly drunk but happy.
I think our Zombie themed room is our most popular room right now – we have it labelled as ‘most difficult / challenge’ room with a disclaimer that it should only be attempted by players who have played a room before yet we get tons of first timers booking it thinking that it’ll be easy (hint: its not!).
My personal favorite is our Pirate room – it has fun décor, music and puzzles. We also get teams coming in dressed up in pirate attire which is always fun!
We are always striving to improve our rooms – we read all feedback and do our best to reply to every email we get within 24 hours (we get 50+ inquiries a day!). If we get a great suggestion, or we have a cool idea or a quality of life improvement for players we do our best to implement it.
One last tidbit I can share – We’ve been hard at work on a second location in Calgary. It will feature 4 brand new rooms (in addition to the 4 existing ones) and we’ve been having a blast coming up with wacky new themes and puzzles. We’re hoping to launch in early Spring and as a special teaser for Escape Games Review I’m happy to share that one of the rooms will be a Wild West style Train Heist… yee haw!
For more information, check out:
#15 2015 32 Ave NE
Great article! 🙂
Great that you’re highlighting gamesmasters/hosts. Some escape rooms seem to totally miss how important a good host is. It’s the first impression, and the last chance to let people go away feeling good.
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