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Mace & Crown | April 29, 2017

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"Breaking in" to Escape Room Virginia Beach

Ross Reelachart
Technology Editor

When ODU senior Shannon Moore met David Blackstock, she had no idea the friendship would lead to becoming a game master at Escape Room Virginia Beach. As it turned out, designing devious puzzles for teams to solve involved much more than simply channeling her inner riddler.

Moore is a graduating senior with a major in sports management and a minor in communications. While she initially intended on pursuing a career as a TV sports personality, she discovered she needed a completely different major. Fortunately, sports management still has a mass media option she can pursue. Either way, few of her learned skills were being put to use at her job at a yogurt shop.

After meeting Blackstone at the Student Recreation Center, they “immediately became friends.” She learned he was the assistant manager at Escape Room and that they were currently in the process of designing the titular rooms. He asked her to help design their second one, with a “Traveling Crook” theme. Even though she had never even heard of an escape room before, the experience was enough to convince her to get a job there.

escape room virginia beach

One of the rooms at the facility. Courtesy: Facebook

“Escape rooms” are a relatively recent invention, with the earliest recorded one being the Silicon Valley escape room “Origin” in 2006. They are described as “physical adventure games” where teams of people are locked in a room and tasked with escaping via a series of puzzles and clues. Usually the rooms are given a theme or story to complete the experience. While Moore was tasked with designing one room, actually working Escape Room involved far more than an ability to devise devious puzzles.

As a game master, Moore was tasked with interacting directly with guests during their escape room experience, in addition to all the usual administrative tasks of taking phone calls and arranging private bookings. Moore emphasized the kind of skills she learned in public speaking classes, as she is often faced with explaining and speaking to groups of guests of over 50 people. She learned how to properly speak to them and how to make sure everyone could see her.

Not only that, Moore learned the value of patience and being personable. Even after setting a team of guests loose in an escape room, she still had to be there for them in case they had questions or concerns. She not only needed to learn how to communicate with people in a fun and professional way, but she needed to learn the art of giving clues without giving away answers. It was these skills that help attract new guests and entice others to come back.

Moore recounted several stories of teams and people she encountered who exposed her to new experiences and helped shape her ability to work with customers. There was a family she ran into three separate times, each time trying a new room. Though they failed the first two, they completed the third and she shared in their elation. There was a story of a seemingly nice group who, not surprisingly, didn’t solve their room. It was later discovered, after they had left, that someone in the group had changed the locks and combinations.

Shannon Moore continues to work at Escape Room Virginia Beach, and she continues to learn from both the business and the experiences. She advises other students, those looking to get into the escape room business to “know your goal” and “know who you want working for you and know the outcome you want in the end.” She also emphasizes the importance of working with other people, to bounce ideas off of, and getting help from people in the business if you’re lacking the experience. Much like getting out of an escape room, it’s better to be “prepared to deal with things not going as planned, which is something you can plan on.”