In Season 4, Episode 8 of REPOD, we return home to the United States for a chat with Mark Flint, CEO of The Escape Game (TEG). With over 26 locations in 14 states, TEG is positioned to offer a shared American experience. Many of their locations have the same games as locations in other cities, all with consistently high quality rooms, accessible venues in high-profile shopping centers, beautifully decorated sets, and friendly customer service.
Mark operates his company with a businessman’s brain and an escape room enthusiast’s heart. The emphasis on hospitality lies at the heart of The Escape Game experience. Their mission statement is Every Single Guest, and Mark shares insights on how he incorporates their mission into every location and experience.
With their commitment to warm and welcoming customer service, well-maintained, clean lobbies and games, and an eye towards rapid expansion, The Escape Game reflects American values. Mark emphasized their in-house leadership training program, and in chatting with him, it was clear that his strong vision and leadership is reflected through his company.
In Season 4, episode 7, we head over to Israel, a relatively unexplored escape room region that has a bounty of creative, lighthearted themes. We chat with prolific escape room designer Gai Bosco of Cerebro, who has designed over 200 escape rooms, or roughly 25% of the Israeli market. Gai is not only an escape room creator, he is a mega-enthusiast and self-proclaimed nerd who got his start creating sci-fi fan fiction.
The Israeli escape room scene is teeming with family-friendly fandom themes, with escape rooms playing homage to many movies including The Lion King, Harry Potter, The Hunger Games, and TV shows like Friends and How I Met Your Mother. One of the other notable and unique Israeli escape room themes we discussed culinary escape rooms, where you gather ingredients for a recipe and that you actually bake or cook over the course of your game.
Gai is a passionate ambassador for Israeli escape rooms. His game The Sting is his love letter to escape rooms, and includes many enthusiast-insider nods and plays with the concept of escape room tropes. It was clear that Gai really loves his craft and wants to share the joy of Israeli escape rooms with the world.
Attention: Survivor Spoilers in this post. We recommend you watch Survivor SA: Return of the Outcasts before reading on if you don’t want to be spoiled.
In Season 4, episode 6, we chat with Dino Paulo, owner of escape room company Hinthunt Africa, located in Cape Town, South Africa. Dino also happens to be the winner of the reality show Survivor South Africa: Return of the Outcasts. In his first season, Survivor South Africa: Immunity Island, Dino was voted out early on. However, he established enough of a presence to return for an all-star returnee season, eventually winning the title of Sole Survivor.
This turnaround from downtrodden underdog to eventual winner is echoed in his experience as an escape room owner. Dino candidly shares the story of an early business partner who committed financial malfeasance, lessons learned, and how ousting the ex-partner was a bit like blindsiding someone in Survivor. He shares some of the difficulties in working with an escape room franchise. We also spend some time exploring the differences between American and South African Survivor.
Dino is a charming guest and extremely self-effacing despite his impressive achievements. He speaks from the heart, is guided by an analytical brain, and radiates boundless enthusiasm. It’s easy to see how he won Survivor (and our hearts).
In Season 4, episode 5 of Reality Escape Pod, we headed to Canada to chat with Jonathan Driscoll and Sacha St.Denis, owners of Escaparium escape games, Nuit de Terreur haunted attraction, L’Atelier resto-pub game cafe, and Ezkapaz immersive experiences. As you can tell from their list of businesses, Jonathan and Sacha have big ambitions. Not only do they have over 30 escape rooms under the Escaparium brand, they have recently expanded into a haunted attraction with escape room elements, a game cafe integrated into their Laval location, and an immersive experience at a local speakeasy bar.
It’s not just the number of experiences that are epically sized. Their flagship games Rain Corp., Wardrobe for Sale, and The Lost Island of the Voodoo Queen are jaw-droppingly enormous, filled with endearing characters, immersive puzzles, and touching storylines that actually made me cry. When setting out to build a haunt, Jonathan and Sasha didn’t want a generic maze. Instead, they created a haunted attraction that’s part maze, with mini-escape room elements and private immersive interactions.
It’s no easy feat juggling so many different projects. Jonathan and Sacha are supportive leaders and are extremely appreciative of their large creative team. The owners of Escaparium have managed to stay humble and are receptive to constructive feedback, while maintaining their ambitious aspirations. Escaparium is an immersive gaming brand of epic proportions. It’s hard to put into words how massive their games are, and that’s why I highly encourage you to visit their locations in Montreal.
In Season 4, Episode 4, we head over to The Netherlands for a chat with Alexander Gierholz of Logic Locks, creator of The Amsterdam Catacombs, which has won numerous accolades including a Golden Lock Award and a TERPECA. In a country rich with globally top-rated escape rooms, The Catacombs stands out for its commitment to immersion, stunning location and incredible ending. The Netherlands has a vibrant escape room scene, due in part to Alexander’s efforts with events like Up The Game, a global escape room conference he co-founded in 2017.