Tomorrow’s Escape Room World Record: An Interview with the Belgian Challengers

It has been 2 years since the Guinness World Record for “Most Escape Rooms Played in 24 Hours” was set. Tomorrow a new team will challenge that record.

We’ll start with a little background on this record. Then we’ll share our interview with the challengers who are attempting to break the record in their home country of Belgium.

A Little History

In October 2018, Rich Bragg, Dan Egnor, Ana Ulin, and Amanda Harris set the current world record for most escape rooms played in 24 hours while on a trip to Moscow, Russia. Their number to beat is 22 games played!

You can read our pre & post interviews with them from 2018.

This was the first escape room record of any sort set with Guinness. Bragg, Egnor, Ulin, and Harris never expected this record to last forever, and are rooting for the Belgians this weekend.

Guinness’ Most Escape Rooms Played in 24 Hours Requirements:

  • Each game needs a game clock of at least 30 minutes.
  • The team needs to earn at least a 50% success rate.
  • All team members must be active for the full duration of all games, or until the team escapes.
  • Body cam footage and independent witnesses are required for the entire 24 hours (including while taking breaks, going to the bathroom, and traveling between venues.)
  • Travel is only permitted on foot, by public transport, or by taxi. Private cars are forbidden.

An Interview With the Challengers

With the background out of the way, let’s introduce you to Kobe Heleven, speaking on behalf of his team:

REA: Who is the team? Please introduce yourselves as escape room players.

Heleven: Our team consists of 4 extreme escape room fanatics: Rob Van Esser, Liese Luijten, Pieterjan Uytterhoeven, and myself, Kobe Heleven.

We started all playing escape rooms around 2016-2017 when they were introduced in Belgium. It started as a hobby, but things got out of hand pretty quickly. In 2018, Liese, Pieterjan, and I started working as gamemasters in an escape room in Leuven. That’s also where we met. We quickly became friends and enjoyed working, but also playing escape rooms together. In 2019, I co-organized and invented the first Belgian Escape Room Championship where Liese and Pieterjan came to play.

At the end of 2019, Rob and I started our own company, Loconsilio Game Design. We think out concepts for escape rooms. These concepts consist of ready-made rooms, directly placeable in an escape room location, and also concepts for pop-up rooms for events or occasions. We also create online games and custom escape rooms made according to the wishes of the customer.

Liese and Pieterjan started their own company, called PiliPili Games. Pilipili Games is a young start-up from Leuven that enters the field of gamification and game-based learning with offline and online games. Learning by playing and learning something while playing has a groundbreaking and threshold-lowering effect.

In this way, we’re all active in the recreational as well as business part of escape rooms.

The team at Cube Zero

REA: Prior to this record attempt, have you played lots of escape room marathons together?

Heleven: Yes, we organized several training sessions to test ourselves as a team and to mentally prepare ourselves for the world record. These training sessions took place in Brussels, where we played several escape rooms in a row. In this way we could get used to the long serial of escape rooms in the marathon for the world record. Also here we tracked our average time of 44:30 per escape room, which was a good indication for our time-management on ‘D-day’.

You can play many rooms in one day to get prepared, but in the end, you just have to give everything of yourselves on that one day, the day of the world record attempt. That’s also why we didn’t plan too many rooms in a row to train, but focused more on getting in tune with each other.

REA: Prior to this record attempt, what’s the most escape rooms you’ve played in one day?

Heleven: Before this world record attempt, we’ve played 4-5 escape rooms in a single day. After these serials, we were still okay in our heads and hearts, as well as we’d started to prepare ourselves for the long serial of escape rooms on the day of the attempt for the world record. One thing we know for sure: it will be a tough day both physically and mentally, but we’re ready!

REA: It’s exciting to see a new team attempt to break the current record of 22 games in 24 hours. How many are you striving to play?

Heleven: We arranged 24 rooms, just to be sure, but believe me when I say we’re just trying to break the record of 22 rooms. I think that will be a big challenge already. We optimized our time schedule and route for the 23 rooms. Any additional rooms are nice to have, but the goal will definitely be to play 23 rooms.

REA: When the first record was set, the requirements were very stringent (and a little strange.) Has Guinness changed any of the restrictions from the previous record?

Heleven: None of the rules have changed. Each rule might seem a bit strange, but they all serve to make every attempt, and thus any possible new record, as honest and fair as possible. We will follow all the guidelines in our quest to obtain the official title of Guinness World Record.

Each of the rooms we will play is 60 minutes. Body cam footage is arranged. We will follow the restrictions for how to travel from public escape room to public escape room.

And yes, we are lucky that the escape room owners of the rooms we will play at night are just as crazy about escape rooms as we are.

REA: When will you be making your record attempt?

Heleven: We will start on Saturday October 3 at 7:00 AM local time (1:00 AM for anyone following from New York), and play until 7:00 AM the following day, Sunday, October 4. This 24-hour trip will be a tough one, but definitely worth it!

REA: You have booked 24 games at 11 companies in 3 Belgian cities: Gent, Aalst, and Dendermonde. Why have you selected this region and these companies? 

Heleven: This is because everything comes down to time management. These rooms were all close to each other in this neighborhood. (Escape room density was the highest here.) The selection of the rooms and locations also included the time of the rooms and number of rooms per location.

Of note, Alcatraz 1 & 2 is only one game. The name is just written like this. That’s why we chose to note it on our schedule as we did, to avoid misinterpretations.

The team at Escape Hunt

REA: Based on our rough Google Maps research, your journey spans a little more than 50km (31 miles) and will require approximately an hour in transit by car. How are you planning to get from company to company?

Heleven: We will travel by foot, bike and taxi.

REA: Do you have any strategy in mind for how to approach individual games or the entire endeavor?

Heleven: We will play and have fun like we always do. In short: stay focused, sleep well in the days before the attempt, stay calm, and most importantly, enjoy the entire day!

REA: What are you most nervous about?

Heleven: In the last few days leading up to the event, we are very nervous just arranging all the last things to make everything work smoothly. Keeping everyone up to date is a task at least as big as the day itself. 

REA: What are you most excited about?

Heleven: We’re very excited just about the rooms that we will play. They are all rooms we’re really looking forward to. This is definitely a once-in-a-lifetime event, and we’ve looked forward to it for months! Also after our video call with the current record holders where we exchanged lots of thoughts and they shared experiences and tips, we’re even more excited!

World Record attempt logo.

REA: How can we and excited Room Escape Artist readers follow your progress?

Heleven: Everything about our journey will be updated by a live-feed on our Instagram and Facebook! Before and after each room we play, updates will be posted on these social media channels.

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