REPOD S6E2—Hard With Pain: Rich Bragg, Creator of TERPECA

If you consider yourself a serious escape room enthusiast, chances are you’ve heard of TERPECA, the Top Escape Rooms Project Enthusiasts’ Choice Award. In Season 6, Episode 2 of REPOD, we chat with Rich Bragg, founder of TERPECA and ClueKeeper, and a former escape room Guinness World Record holder.

Hero image for S6E2 of REPOD, title says "hard with pain, Rich Bragg: Creator of TERPECA". Image of smiling man with blue hair and a white/grey beard. There is the logo for the TERPECA which is an award ribbon with keys and a lock. Background of a moody decorated office set.

Rich has been involved in the immersive gaming scene since he first discovered the world of elaborate puzzle hunts in the early 2000s. Rich talks about playing in Moscow while setting the Guinness World record, and he tells us about playing the “hard with pain” game mode. We discuss the “TERPECA Effect,” while talking about the impact that the Enthusiast Choice Awards has had on the international escape room scene. Not only has this project created a globally recognized reference list of the top escape rooms, it has also brought the international community together, with many enthusiasts traveling all over the world to experience these games.

Rich’s passion for the puzzling world crosses many genres. It’s abundantly clear that he puts a lot of thought into ensuring that TERPECA is balanced, fair, and accurately reflects the opinions of the most experienced players. If you’re an experienced enthusiast, we hope this episode convinces you to vote in the upcoming TERPECA season. Your opinion matters!

Thank You to Our Sponsors

We are immensely grateful to our sponsors this season: Morty App, Buzzshot, and COGS. We truly appreciate your support of our mission to promote and improve the immersive gaming community.


Morty is a free app for discovering, planning, tracking, and reviewing your escape rooms and other immersive social outings.

Morty News:

  • Morty now features haunt attractions!
  • Morty for Android is here and in public beta.

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Buzzshot is Escape Room Software, Powering Business Growth, Player Marketing, and improving the Customer Experience. They offer an assortment of pre and post game features including robust waiver management, branded team photos, and streamlined review management for Yelp, TripAdvisor, Google Reviews, and Morty. Buzzshot now has integration with the other REPOD sponsors: Morty and COGS.

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COGS by Clockwork Dog is an easy to use software/ hardware platform for running interactive events, including escape rooms, and other immersive experiences. They have plug & play hardware that seamlessly integrates with their software so you can create a show with lighting and sound cues without having to write a single line of code. Map all kinds of inputs to outputs by building up simple logic steps which determine what you want to happen and when.

Special Offer for REPOD Listeners:

REPOD listeners can get the COGS Starter Set for only $130 + free shipping to the USA. This bundle is usually valued at $257. You can learn more and purchase your Starter Set at Use code REPOD at checkout.

Topics Discussed in this Episode

  • [2:53] We establish the correct pronunciation of “TERPECA” and Rich gives the hilarious explanation for why he prefers this pronunciation.
  • [4:07] Rich talks about how he got into the puzzling world and tells us about the rich history of puzzle hunts from the early 2000s, which were very elaborate affairs. Many spanned an entire weekend and took well over a year to create.
  • [8:38] Rich talks about how the elaborate puzzle hunts slowly petered out with the rise of escape rooms.
  • [18:18] Rich tells us the story of how his team, which consisted of Rich Bragg, Amanda Harris, Dan Egnor and Ana Ulin, set the first ever Escape Room Guinness World Record of most escape rooms played in 24 hours. They set the record at 22 games during a marathon in Moscow, Russia.
  • [24:05] Rich talks about some of the more interesting escape room experiences he had in Moscow, Russia, including one at Sacrum Labyrinth (now closed) which had several different games modes including regular, hard, and hard with pain.
  • [29:29] Rich talks about TERPECA, which stands for Top Escape Rooms Project Enthusiast Choice Awards. He explains that the goal of the project is to utilize the resources of experienced escape room players to create a ranked list of the best games in the English speaking world. Rich goes on to explain how the ranking system and algorithm work.
  • [36:40] David and REA contributor Richard Burns put together a list of what they call “The TERPECA Effect,” and David breaks down the impact that TERPECA has had on the escape room community and industry. The list includes things like creating an international sense of community, creating demand for escape room travel, and inspired creators to build bigger, more complex, and more dynamic escape rooms.
  • [44:27] Rich talks about why he thinks there are so many escape rooms in the horror genre that top the TERPECA list.
  • [47:53] Go to to sign up as a nominator or voter.
  • [48:23] Rich is a huge fan of the Chicago Bears. He talks about his annual pilgrimage to Chicago to see them play.
  • [49:33] Rich tells us about how he and his wife will sometimes gamify their grocery shopping.
  • [51:32] Rich tells us about going to Wrocław, Poland to compete in the ER Champ Competition (an escape room competition), and what he’s doing to prepare.
  • [57:39] Rich tells a bonus story about a puzzle hunt he played where the creators customized a puzzle in an unexpected way.

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Resources Mentioned in this Episode

About Rich Bragg

Man with blue hair and a grey beard wearing a black t-shirt, smiling while pointing to a framed award that says "2020 TERPECA TOP ROOMS: Dragonborn: The Innkeeper's Son"

Twitter: @cluekeeper & @ubragg
Instagram: @topescaperoomsproject & @cluekeeper
Facebook: @cluekeeperllc & @terpeca

Rich Bragg has played over 1200 escape rooms and over 300 puzzle hunts in North America and Europe and is the founder of the Top Escape Rooms Project Enthusiasts’ Choice Awards (TERPECA). He has four top 10 finishes in international escape room competitions (3rd in the 2017 Red Bull Escape Room World Championships, 10th in the 2019 Red Bull Escape Room World Championships, 3rd in the 2020 ER Champ International Escape Room Championship, 5th in the 2022 International Escape Room Championship), is a former Guinness World Record holder for most escape rooms played in one day, and is the co-founder and CEO of ClueKeeper, a platform for creating and playing location-based clue hunts.

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