The Reality Escape Pod Episode 2: Survivor Challenge Consultant Myles Nye (Wise Guys Events)

Episode 2 is an interview with Myles Nye, a Survivor challenge consultant and owner of Wise Guy Events, a team-building experience company, or as he puts it, “makers of playful experiences for professionals.”

Myles has an unbridled joy for capturing the essence of play, and his passion for creating fun games is evident throughout our conversations. Halfway through the podcast, he talks about designing games for Survivor, and it’s interesting to hear him switch from talking about games that bring people together to designing games intended to create conflict.

Episode 2

Episode Summary

In this episode, David and Peih-Gee chat with Myles Nye, a Survivor challenge consultant and designer of team-building games.

Myles took Peih-Gee to her first escape room, and we discuss tips and tricks for newbies. Myles talks about improv and how to create experiences that tap into the essence of play. We learn about how Myles became a challenge consultant for the reality show Survivor, and discuss the nuances of designing puzzles and games for television. He puts to rest some of the conspiracy theories about Survivor challenges, and also talks to us about why certain challenges probably won’t reappear on the show. We also talk about Myles’ love of legacy board games. Myles tells us that the work that he does for Survivor is creating games that get people to fight with each other, whereas the work that he does at Wise Guys Events is about making games that will get them to bond with each other.

Reality Escape Pod mission patch logo depicts a spaceship puncturing through the walls of reality.

Topics Discussed in this Episode

  • Myles talks about taking Peih-Gee to her first escape room, Galaxy Quest (formerly known as Flight of the Pandorusreview) from 60 Out and Castle of Maze LA. (1:00)
  • David chats about his preferred escape room scheduling and rhythm. (2:20)
  • David talks about REA’s Escape Immerse Explore Tours. (4:27)
  • Peih-Gee talks about an escape room that was so bad that one of the team members had a small mental breakdown. (6:15)
  • Myles talks about his tips and tricks for newbies playing escape rooms. (6:40) 
  • David talks about his advice for newbies. (8:40)
  • Myles tells a story about Escape from Godot and how much thought goes into designing a prop. (8:48)
  • Myles talks about his favorite improv exercises. (10:30)
  • Myles talks about how he builds improv exercises into the team building games he designs for his company, Wise Guys Events. (11:58)
  • Myles talks about employing song and musical theatre techniques in games. (14:26)
  • We discuss Myles’ love of Survivor and his excessively high level of recall when it comes to Survivor trivia and stats. (17:28)
  • Myles tells the story of how he became a challenge consultant for Survivor. (18:06)
  • Myles shares the secrets behind the email that got him a job offer from Survivor. (18:53)
  • Myles talks about designing the puzzles and challenges for Survivor and what makes a puzzle good for television. (19:53)
  • Myles talks about designing the puzzle for Island of the Idols. (21:55)
  • Peih-Gee talks about the difficulties players face when trying to solve certain types of puzzles on Survivor. (23:17)
  • David talks about how he thinks certain aspects of Survivor challenges can be unfair. (24:20)
  • Myles talks about the challenges of designing puzzles that fit with the Survivor aesthetic. (25:54)
  • Myles talks about the Survivor challenge he designed, which he considers his calling card, called A Crate Idea. (27:08)
  • Myles talks about the dichotomy of the games he designs for Survivor vs the games he designs for Wise Guys Events. (28:00)
  • Myles talks about games he designed for Survivor that didn’t play out the way he intended, but made for really good TV. (28:40)
  • Myles talks about another challenge called Snare the Drum that he designed for Survivor Philippines and why it won’t appear again. (30:50)
  • Peih-Gee talks about the physical demands of even the puzzling portions of Survivor challenges from a player’s perspective. (33:45)
  • We discuss Survivor conspiracy theories about challenges being manipulated to benefit certain players. (34:56)
  • Myles talks about why certain challenges won’t be brought back on Survivor. (37:36)
  • We discuss escape room concepts used in Survivor challenge designs including one from Survivor Winners at War. (39:26)
  • We chat about legacy board games, including Myles’ love of Seafall. (42:00)
  • Myles’ shares a bonus story! (52:25)

People & Resources Mentioned in this Episode

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Thanks for listening!

Guest Bio

Myles Nye, Co-Founder of Wise Guys Events

Myles Nye is a game designer. In 2009 Myles and his friend Greg co-founded Wise Guys Events, makers of playful experiences for professionals. Myles makes challenges for Survivor (his first season was Survivor China), contributes puzzles and games to the National Puzzlers League newsletter The Enigma, and has contributed award-winning games to IndieCade, the international festival of independent games. Myles lives in Berkeley, California, with his wife and 2 sons where they have been sheltering in place for nearly a year, with the exception of when, in December, he played Jeopardy with host Ken Jennings against two much stronger competitors.

Twitter: mylesnye
Instagram: mylesnyegram

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