“It’s about whether you want to be culturally relevant in 2023.” In Season 6, Episode 3 of REPOD, we discuss the importance of social media marketing with The Haunt Girl—Christine Barger, co-owner of The Exit Game OC. Her game, 13th Basement, is a hilarious comedy-horror escape room that’s self-aware and parodies typical escape room tropes. Christine has almost a million followers on TikTok as an entertainer and haunt/ escape room influencer.
The conversation moves from haunts to being an escape room blogger. Christine tells us how she finally made the leap from influencer to escape room creator. Christine is one of the very few owners who allows players to film her entire game, and she actively encourages them to post in-game footage on social media. Hear what she has to say about why this is essential for growing your escape room business.
It was fascinating to hear Christine’s approach to social media for her escape room business, especially when she explains her background as an influencer and social media whiz. She’s leveraged in-game footage to create viral videos with millions of views, driving new players to her escape room. This is a can’t-miss conversation for those looking to improve their marketing game.
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 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.
Special Offer for REPOD Listeners:
REPOD listeners get an extended 21-day free trial plus 20% off your first 3 months, with no set-up fees or hidden charges. Visit buzzshot.com/repod to learn more about this exclusive offer.
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 cogs.show. Use code REPOD at checkout.
Topics Discussed in this Episode
- [3:03] Christine talks about starting her Haunt Girl blog because she was the go-to gal when it came to finding the best haunts and she was tired of responding to her friends individually.
- [6:55] Christine tells us what she looks for in haunts, and what makes for a bad haunt experience, including crowded conga lines and people getting too grabby. She also talks about the downside of working as a scare actor in haunts, including being punched and grabbed inappropriately.
- [12:21] Peih-Gee and Christine talk about upping the scare (and the fun) factor by not hiding behind your cynical friends in scary escape rooms. Peih-Gee also shares her advice for enjoying haunts while avoiding getting mobbed by the scare actors.
- [16:40] Christine talks about how she got involved with content creation for social media apps, starting with Musical.ly. She tells us about being recruited from a party entertainer website to create videos as a ventriloquist.
- [22:57] Christine talks about what motivated her to take the leap from escape room blogger to escape room owner and designer. She tells us that an opportunity with a location set everything into motion and explains that having the building permits already handled made a huge difference.
- [25:58] Christine talks about how creating her own escape room changed how she judges other escape rooms as an enthusiast and blogger.
- [27:04] David talks about feeling a similar way and how his desire to change the information flowing into the escape room industry prompted Room Escape Artist to create RECON.
- [29:44] Christine talks about her escape room, 13th Basement, which is a horror comedy that lovingly mocks escape rooms. She tells us some of her goals when building the game, including making sure that it was as inclusive and accessible as possible.
- [32:25] Christine talks about paying homage to 13th Gate Escape Rooms in Baton Rouge, which was a primary inspiration for her own escape room. The name also references The Basement in Los Angeles, and 13th Hour in New Jersey.
- [36:08] Christine talks about feeling cynical about moments in escape rooms that used to really excite her, like hidden doors, and she explains that in her game, she wanted to recapture that magic for both new players and enthusiasts.
- [39:40] Christine tells us the narrative of her game, and Peih-Gee talks about enjoying escape rooms that acknowledge you’re at an escape room, but with a twist.
- [41:45] Peih-Gee talks about how Exit Games OC allows players to video and film inside their games, and what a brilliant marketing move it is. Christine talks about her reasons for allowing players to film her game and expresses her frustration with owners who don’t want to show off their beautiful sets.
- [47:53] Christine and David talk about the importance of welcoming influencers to escape rooms and staying relevant in 2023.
- [49:13] Christine tells us that the players have been very respectful of not spoiling the game even though they’re allowed to film everything.
- [52:14] Christine and David talk about originality and creativity in creating puzzles.
- [54:50] Christine talks about using her escape room and in-game videos to create viral content for social media that has brought in many new players to her game.
- [57:10] Christine talks about being a ventriloquist, and David shares his memory of acting as her dummy during a performance.
- [59:59] Christine talks about her love of GISH, The Greatest International Scavenger Hunt. This was a very competitive scavenger hunt with outlandish requests, ranging from getting a Democrat and a Republican to be in the same T-shirt at the same time, to convincing your friends to don sardine costumes on a commercial flight.
- [1:10:28] Christine tells a bonus story about the time she and her husband booked into a public escape room and were surprised with the players they ended up joining.
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Resources Mentioned in this Episode
- The Exit Game OC Website
- The Haunt Girl Website
- Christine Barger Website
- Christine Barger Youtube
- The Haunt Girl Youtube
- REA Review of 13th Basement
About Christine Barger
Social Media Handles:
- Everywhere: @TheHauntGirl
- Everywhere: @ExitGameOC
- Everywhere: @ChristineBarger
- Instagram: @ChristineBargerOfficial
Christine Barger is an entertainer, entrepreneur and animal lover. She has been in many projects as an actor in tv shows & movies, as well as performing live comedy and ventriloquism. (One of her little wooden friends also does mentalism.) She has acquired over a million followers across her social media platforms.
An obsession with haunted attractions & escape rooms led to her blog The Haunt Girl and eventually the 13th Basement at Exit Game OC which she built with her husband Jeremiah. Christine believes it’s important to enjoy life and is always doing her best to encourage others to do the same whether it’s by performing, sharing information about a fun new experience, creating experiences herself or simply posting adorable pictures of her cats online to brighten someone’s day.
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