Please check out my previous Storytelling posts here. And my 365 Reviews here.
Welcome to interview eight!
I met Brandon and his wife Alli on accident when a friend told me about a new escape room that had opened not far from my house, and we decided to check it out.
It was my second room ever, but still remains my favorite of all time: “Cold War Crisis.” After narrowly escaping the room, I knew that I needed to bring the Shepard Game Club to the experience, and I have, making multiple trips to give kids the experience. We’ve even had some of our sports teams head over for some team building!
Brandon and Alli have presented with me at Gen Con and are currently helping me design an escape room for a Game Club fundraiser. They are great people. And I had to get their take on the Storytelling of escape rooms. I met up with Brandon, and this is what transpired:
Me: I think your escape rooms are some of the coolest that I’ve done! Can you give us a brief rundown of your two themes and how you created the stories?
BU: Cold War Crisis, set in 1972, puts you in the middle of the Cold War on a mission to prevent the launch of nuclear weapons. This was our first room, so we decided to go with a theme that required minimal changes to the facade of the room. When we took over the business space, it had not been updated, since the ‘70s. There was this nostalgic wood paneling everywhere! We tore off the wood paneling from everywhere, except in the game to help us separate the room from the rest of our environment.
For Cabin of Dr. Bishop, we had the time to truly develop a separate environment. We did draw inspiration from an existing mural in the room of a mountain/lake scene. We decided to do something we had never seen and build an actual cabin, with our business, that butted up again the mural.
Me: How important is it for an escape room to have a good story?
BU: As important as it is for a movie. Escape rooms are no different. If you go to a movie, with little to no plot, it generally stinks, right? We enjoy playing games that are generally involved with the story we are told. The puzzles that are given should directly correspond to the story line and not be just a random puzzle.
Me: Besides yours, obviously, what’s he best story that you’ve seen in an escape room?
BU: We enjoyed the story behind The Lake House by Psych in Orland Park, IL.
Me: What advice would you give for the young (or old) escape room fanatic if they wanted to start their own escape room business?
BU: Location location location. With so many escape rooms already in existence, you better be sure you are in an area that still has demand for an escape room. Also, when you start one, make it your own, not like others you have seen. The next few years will show an upswing and downswing in Escape Rooms. The survivability will rely on how fun and different the escape room is.
Great advice from Brandon there, and that will be our takeaway for today: make it your own. Be original, or sink. Sound advice for any new endeavor that you are looking to turn into a successful business.
I’d like to thank Brandon for his time, and I encourage you to head over to Oak Lawn, IL. and check out South Side Escape Rooms. Their website can be found here. You will not be disappointed by either of their rooms. Brandon and Alli know what they are doing! Tell ’em Eric sent ya…
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