REPOD S2E2 – Nick Moran: Reinventing Escape Games with Innovative Structures

In season 2, episode 2, we have a lovely chat with Nick Moran, who was creative director for Time Run, one of the most influential escape room companies. He has created ambitious games with innovative formats, and he’s now focused his creative genius on designing Spectre and Vox, a gorgeously crafted tabletop gaming experience with interactive storytelling.

Nick’s background as a narrative-focused writer becomes apparent when he starts talking about the structure of a game. It was fascinating to hear how he approaches structure from a narrative viewpoint, for example, by considering the “status” of the player in an escape room and the importance the player’s status has on immersion. Additionally, Nick approaches game design from a business viewpoint, taking into consideration how to maximize player throughput and increase productivity.

It’s rare to find a designer as talented as Nick, who creates not only with an eye for brilliant gameplay and immersive narrative, but also towards optimizing the business model. Nick is charming, hilarious and very opinionated. We think you’ll really enjoy this episode.

Man smiling with curly hair, short beard and grey eyes.

Thank You to Our Sponsors

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

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SEO ORB

Marketing and SEO optimization created specifically for escape rooms by an enthusiast.

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Telescape by Buzzshot
Virtual escape room game creation and interface software. Bring increased functionality to your virtual escape rooms.

Topics Discussed in this Episode

  • David and Nick chat a bit about their friendship, including the time when Nick showed up at David’s door unexpectedly, from an ocean away. [1:39]
  • David asks Nick about his seminal game, Lance of Longinus at Time Run, an escape room that David says many creators cite as a major influence. [2:55]
  • Nick talks about his background as a writer with a masters in narratology and studies in storytelling and time skip writing. [3:34]
  • Nick talks about how “structure is content” and says when he first played escape rooms in the early 2010s, he found them to be quite formless. [4:34]
  • Nick describes a basic narrative structure that’s used in Hollywood-style cinematic storytelling and talks about how to apply it in escape room design. [5:03]
  • Nick talks about the importance of player status, and why you should keep in mind the player’s hierarchy within this world that you’ve created. [6:38]
  • Nick says that rather than forcing the players to put in a lot of work convincing themselves to take on a “role,” he prefers to have the players come as themselves, only “I’m going to make you into something better by giving you an exciting experience where you become a better version of you.” [7:31]
  • Nick talks about the complex and detailed sets at Time Run. [10:53]
  • Nick talks about structuring their rooms with an innovative “pipeline” model. Pipelining is a format where, as players finish a room, it is reset behind them and the players never return to a room once they’ve left it. This allows for more games in a day. [12:15]
  • Nick talks about the experimental structure of Celestial Chain, the follow up to Lance of Longinus. It was a collection-based game played in 5 sets and you had 12 minutes in each set. This room was also run in the pipeline model. [14:58]
  • Nick discusses the controversy over the format of Celestial Chain, how some people were unhappy with the structure. [17:14]
  • David discusses the merits of raising throughput, raising quality while also raising profits, especially in an industry that is throttled by capacity. The group discusses the pricing structure of escape rooms. [21:02]
  • Peih-Gee mentions that they discuss pricing in one of the Patreon-only bonus shows. She talks about a $90 game she recently played, and that while she didn’t think this one was worth the hefty price tag, she agrees that there’s room for higher pricing. [22:30]
  • Nick tells us about The Game is Now, an escape room he created based on the BBC TV show Sherlock, starring Benedict Cumberbatch as the eponymous Sherlock Holmes. [26:36]
  • Nick talks about some of the benefits and also pitfalls of working with treasured IP (intellectual property) like Harry Potter or Star Wars. [29:58]
  • Nick tells us that it’s not necessary to license IP in order to tap into the fanbase of a market. [33:39]
  • Nick talks about the extraordinary access he had while working on The Game is Now, and what it was like working with the actors from the show. [37:58]
  • Nick shares an anecdote about working with Benedict Cumberbatch filming some scenes for the escape room. [42:30]
  • Nick talks to us about his latest project, Spectre & Vox, a tabletop escape game, with beautiful laser cut dollhouses, and augmented with a digital interface and voice acting. [47:38]
4 photos of a dollhouse, overhead shot, one of the front side, and another of the living room and bathroom.
  • Nick said that when tasked with creating an at-home escape experience, he wanted to duplicate the feeling of journeying through great set designs. [48:41]
  • Nick tells us that he’s inspired by the late Victorian age because it’s a time of consequential change, and also he is inspired by time travel and ghost stories. [50:18]
  • We learn that you’ll be able to interact with the game via an app, including issuing commands to a character. [51:28]
  • David talks about Locktopus, another company founded by him and his wife Lisa. It’s software for making high quality spoken-word escape games on Amazon Alexa. [52:35]
  • Nick talks about some of the manufacturing difficulties of producing a game of this scope, including machinery that was stuck in the Suez Canal.[53:35]
  • Nick and David discuss their “blood feud” – their ongoing debate over whether games can be art. [56:17]
  • Nick discusses what format excites him the most for future projects: open-world gaming. [1:00:09]
  • Peih-Gee compares open-world gaming to being on Survivor. [1:01:42]
  • Nick thinks that open-world gaming will solve a lot of the problems in escape rooms and offer something that everyone can enjoy no matter their level of engagement. [1:02:53]
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Resources Mentioned in this Episode

guest bio

Nick Moran, Game Director and Founder of Spectre & Vox

Nick Moran is the Game Director and Founder of Spectre & Vox, an exciting 3D table-top adventure game combining lights, sound and interactive storytelling for you to solve your own immersive mystery.

He was also the Creative Director of Time Run, a live gaming company based in London. At Time Run Nick wrote and led the design of two award-winning games (The Lance Of Longinus and The Celestial Chain), and, in early 2019 he designed and launched Sherlock: The Game Is Now, which he co-wrote with Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss, based on the eponymous BBC TV show, voted Best New Tourist attraction from London & Partners. 

Follow Nick Moran

A beautiful shiba on a train platform at night.
This photo of Nick Moran’s dog Elinor was stolen and published without permission.

Other recommended podcasts

escape this podcast logo, microphone with a puzzle

Escape This Podcast

Escape This Podcast is a show that’s a mix between table top roleplaying and escape room puzzles.

Support REPOD

Thanks for listening!

Support Room Escape Artist’s Mission

There are lots of ways to support Room Escape Artist, like buying from Amazon or Etsy after clicking into the links included in this post or backing us on Patreon.

The money that we make from these helps us to grow the site and continue to add more value to the community that we love so much.

REPOD Season 2 Episode 1: The Curious Mind of Neil Patrick Harris, Creator of Box One

In episode 1 of season 2, we talk to acclaimed actor, producer, writer, and tabletop immersive experience designer Neil Patrick Harris. He’s a performer known for his iconic roles on stage and screen, but our community knows him as a champion of escape rooms and immersive gaming, as well as the creator of the brilliant tabletop puzzle experience Box One

Neil walks us through the path that led him to his love of escape rooms and other immersive games (including Survivor), explaining that it all stems from his fascination with structure and figuring out the mechanisms of how something works. He explains that escape rooms and immersive theatre were able to combine his two loves, magic and theatre, into a spectacle of an experience. 

We spend a lot of time dissecting Box One, with quite a lot of spoilers. Make sure you play the game before listening to this segment! Neil explains some of the more controversial design elements and talks to us about his game design philosophy. 

After chatting with Neil, it became clear that the driving force behind many of his immersive endeavors was an intense curiosity about the mechanics of a puzzle or trick, along with a profuse appreciation for creativity and authenticity. His unbridled joy when discussing different immersive experiences was a pleasure to behold. We are thrilled to have someone like him championing this industry.

Thank You to Our Sponsors

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

seo orb logo. cartoon man wearing pink sunglasses holding 2 puzzle cubes

SEO ORB

Marketing and SEO optimization created specifically for escape rooms by an enthusiast.

logo for telescape, a tower antenna on a greenish blue and orange square

Telescape by Buzzshot
Virtual escape room game creation and interface software. Bring increased functionality to your virtual escape rooms.

Topics Discussed in this Episode

  • Neil mentions that he loves Survivor, and that he’s friends with Jeff Probst, who has invited him to Fiji to be on the Dream Team. [1:29]
  • Peih-Gee explains that the Dream Team is part of the Survivor crew. They test all the challenges on location and help film some of the overhead scenes. [2:07]
  • Neil says he’d love to do celebrity Survivor, but not a “quasi-hybrid version.” [2:43]
  • Peih-Gee muses that perhaps the reason they haven’t had a celebrity version of Survivor is because Jeff Probst doesn’t want it to be a watered-down version of Survivor. [3:22]
  • Neil says he thinks “outwit, outplay, outlast” is very synonymous with life in many ways. [4:30]
  • Neil says his two tenets in life are authenticity and creativity. He goes on to explain why most reality TV seems fraudulent and inauthentic, but Survivor seems to also embrace authenticity and creativity in both its portrayals and format. [4:46]
  • Peih-Gee talks about not eating for the first four days when she was on Survivor China, and says the show is entirely authentic, with no secret food or hidden bathrooms. [6:06]
  • Neil walks us through the path that led him to his love of escape rooms and other immersive games, explaining that it all stems from his fascination with structure and figuring out the mechanisms of how something works. [6:40]
  • Neil says that as a child, his interest started with the state fair, and curiosity about how rides and the sideshow attractions worked. [7:13]
  • As he got older, Neil became entranced with theatre and shows like The Mystery of Edwin Drood, which has multiple outcomes chosen by the audience, and Sleep No More, a show with multiple immersive experiences all happening simultaneously. [8:50]
  • Neil says that he fell in love with escape rooms because they combine his love of figuring out the magic trick while immersed in an experience. [10:38]
  • Neil talks about Accomplice New York, an immersive experience that takes you on an adventure through the streets of New York, billed as “adventure theatre.” He ended up co-producing Accomplice Los Angeles. [11:17]
  • (Neil lists several other immersive experiences that have inspired him. Please see Resources below for links.) 
  • Neil talks about The Tension Experience by Darren Bousman and how a scripted “choose your own adventure” experience worked. [20:01]
  • Neil muses that with immersive theatre, he always worries that he’s somehow doing it “wrong” but at the end of the day, there’s a lesson to be learned in just letting go and enjoying your own experience of the event. [21:02]
  • David discusses the rise of escape rooms. He mentions how they seem to have started off copying one another in the beginning and that’s why they seemed so homogenous in the early days. [23:03]
  • David talks about the artistry of escape rooms versus escape room owners that only see it as a business model. [24:51]
  • Neil says that for him, one of the distinguishing features of a truly amazing magical performance is when someone has a knowledge of the craft and has figured out how to individualize it in a way that is fun for both laymen and magicians alike. [26:53]
  • Neil discusses aspects of magic as a profession that he dislikes, including mediocrity and how bizarre it is that magic is a profession you can buy. [28:11]
  • Neil talks about his tenure as president of The Magic Castle in Los Angeles—how he ended up in that position, some of the problems they were going through at the time, and why he was so passionate about effecting change there. [29:13]
  • Neil says that his biggest change was “shifting the focus from being revenue-driven to member experience-driven.” They improved the guest experience from the quality of cocktails and friendliness of servers, to increasing auxiliary performances so guests could feel like they were being entertained all night, even when waiting in line for a show. [32:11]
  • We discuss Neil’s game Box One. This is a tabletop puzzle trivia adventure designed for one player, and we are going to get a little spoiler-y. I strongly urge you to stop reading the show notes and play Box One first, if you haven’t played it yet. Or you can jump ahead to timestamp 1:04:40. [ 36:20]
  • Neil talks about meeting Jonathan Bayme, the CEO of Theory 11 and how they became friends. He talks about the first game they created together called Amazed. [37:58]
  • Neil says that Box One originally started with a single idea: What if there was a single-player party game? [41:48]
  • Neil talks about playing The Werewolf Experiment by the Wild Optimists, who were guests on Season 1, Episode 3 of this podcast. [43:07]
  • Neil mentions that he specifically didn’t want for Box One to be a timed experience. Rather, he wanted players to savor the production value of his game. [43:48]
  • David discusses the difficulties in creating an escape room tabletop game that will appeal to both the mass-market and escape room enthusiasts alike, including how to gatekeep wow moments and puzzles. [46:05]
  • Neil says that they purposefully slowed down the beginning of the game, and that was the intention behind creating a shoe for the deck of cards, requiring you to only focus on the top card in the deck. [47:16]
  • Neil talks about doing interviews in-character as evil NPH from the game narrative. [48:35]
  • We discuss the character of evil NPH from Box One [52:04]
  • David explains that his style of reviewing games is to convey how the reader can best optimize their experience. [53:04]
  • David discusses how experienced escape room players will do themselves a disservice if they try to anticipate the surprises in the box, and advises them to just play the game linearly as instructed. [54:31]
  • Neil talks about some of the difficulties in manufacturing Box One. [56:44]
  • Neil tells us that he put a forcible stop in the middle of the game because he wanted people to take their time with the game, to stop and think about it. He also wanted to boost the illusion that you were chatting with a real person. [58:37]
  • Peih-Gee mentions that her only criticism is wanting more of a diegetic reason for the 24-hour stop. [1:01:27]
  • Neil talks about using his platform to direct attention to the games, escape rooms, and immersive experiences that he loves, like Mysterious Package Company and Crack a Nut Mysteries. [1:05:19]
  • David mentions Angela Lawson Scott, from Crack a Nut, who spent much of last year visiting multiple Targets to buy Box One and ship them to friends in Europe. [1:06:55]
  • David mentions how grateful he is for Neil’s support of Room Escape Artist, and Neil mentions how difficult it can be to find resources for small, bespoke experiences. [1:08:15]
  • Neil mentions that playtesting with different audiences is the most important lesson he learned from creating Box One. [1:11:23]
  • He discusses the possibility of Box Two, but talks about the difficulties in finding a different angle to surprise people who are now primed to some of the tricks after playing Box One. [1:11:50]
  • Neil talks about how much he loves Escape This Podcast, an audio escape room podcast that both Peih-Gee and David have been guests on as well. [1:13:46]
Reality Escape Pod mission patch logo depicts a spaceship puncturing through the walls of reality.

Resources Mentioned in this Episode

Follow Neil Patrick Harris

Instagram @NPH
Twitter @actuallyNPH

Other recommended podcasts

escape this podcast logo, microphone with a puzzle

Escape This Podcast

Escape This Podcast is a show that’s a mix between table top roleplaying and escape room puzzles.
https://www.consumethismedia.com/escape-this-podcast

Support REPOD

Thanks for listening!

Support Room Escape Artist’s Mission

There are lots of ways to support Room Escape Artist, like buying from Amazon or Etsy after clicking into the links included in this post or backing us on Patreon.

The money that we make from these helps us to grow the site and continue to add more value to the community that we love so much.

REPOD Episode 8: Season Finale Wrap Up with Room Escape Artist Puppetmaster: Lisa Spira

In episode 8, we chat with Lisa Spira, co-creator of Room Escape Artist, one of the producers of this podcast, and the main puppetmaster holding the strings of two very happy podcasters.

David and Lisa have been married for five years. He calls himself the Penn to Lisa’s Teller and explains that in their partnership, while he’s the loud carnival barker grabbing the attention, Lisa is the shorter, quiet one who is actually pulling all the strings (and we couldn’t be more thrilled that she’s helping us organize this podcast).

Together, we delve into some of the controversy and discussion stirred up by our previous episode with Chris Lattner.

Lisa has not only applied her prodigious organizational talents to producing our podcast, but she is also the driving force behind many of Room Escape Artist’s endeavors, including the Hivemind Review group, the US Escape Room Industry Report, the REA Escape Room Tours, and RECON ’21 – the Reality Escape Convention.

She chats with us about these upcoming projects, giving us highlights of what to expect. I was fascinated to get a glimpse at some of the moving parts behind the Room Escape Artist machine. None of this would have been possible without Lisa’s guiding hand, and we are immensely grateful for her expertise and dedication.

man in glasses and woman with blond hair peek out excitedly from behind a vault door.

Episode 8

Topics Discussed in this Episode

  • David calls himself the Penn to Lisa’s Teller and explains that in their partnership, while he’s the loud carnival barker grabbing the attention, Lisa is the shorter, quiet one who is actually pulling all the strings. [1:19]
David and Lisa on the day that he proposed with a series of puzzles. Lisa had just found a jewelry box with a key and scroll (pictured here).
  • Lisa talks about why they created the Hivemind – the group review project on Room Escape Artist that covers a variety of play-from-home content. [2:08]
  • Lisa says that one of her main struggles with publishing during quarantine is figuring out what games they should cover. She says that previously they covered games based on where they were traveling. [5:24]
  • Lisa talks about how the definition of “escape room” has changed so much, and some of the different types of rooms REA covers. [7:02]
  • David discusses his idea of regional perspectives when it comes to escape room culture. He says that people assume escape room culture is the same globally, but in his opinion, “escape rooms have a lot of regional trends and regional flavors.” [10:30]
  • Peih-Gee notes that this was the first time she thought of regional biases in escape rooms and says, “The way movies are produced and directed are probably different coming from different countries. It makes sense that any other type of entertainment or creative endeavor is also going to be flavored by your own personal cultural biases and perspectives.” [11:39]
  • Lisa muses on what IS an escape room? Does it need to have puzzles? Where’s the tipping point between an immersive adventure and an escape room? [12:16]
  • David states that he thinks the Los Angeles escape room scene, in general, has a more theatrical bent, and an undertone of horror with more illusions. He says they tend to be a bit easier and more focused on the immersion of the experience rather than on the puzzles. [13:34]
  • David says he thinks Seattle has a much more puzzle-focused gameplay, whereas the New Orleans/ Baton Rouge area tends to focus more on spectacle in an artsy way. [14:22]
  • We talk about the differences between theatrical versus spectacle, with “theatrical” meaning more narrative focused, and “spectacle” meaning a big reveal. [15:00]
  • Peih-Gee notes that she loves the personality of regional flavor in escape rooms and David compares it to having regional flavors in music. [17:10]
  • We talk a little bit about escape room culture in China, including the speed dating scene built around escape rooms, as well as the elaborate costumes. [19:35]
  • David and Lisa discuss their data-driven Industry reports on the escape room community and go over a few highlights from their recent industry survey, including [21:07]:
    • 80% of business owners that took the survey are currently operating.
    • 75% of owners said that they had adjusted their schedules in various different ways to make the experience of playing in escape rooms safer.
    • 42% said that their outlook is positive and almost 24% said their outlook is very positive. 
  • Lisa shares some quotes from the escape room industry survey. Some are positive, like one that says “We are doing the best we’ve ever done by adding online live avatar games. It has opened us up to an even larger market.“ [23:40]
  • Some of the quotes are a sad reminder of the hard-hitting reality of this quarantine. ”My enthusiasm and energy after all of this is low. I feel like I’m starting over building my business up.” [24:35]
  • Lisa talks about the escape room tours that REA runs and mentions that the Montreal Tour is planned for October of 2021. [26:53]
David's bus gathered for a group photo at RISE.
Escape Room Tour group in New Orleans in 2018
  • Lisa explains how the tours work. David reminisces about some past players who told him that the tours had changed their life perspective and inspired them to learn new skill sets and make new friends who enjoyed the same hobby. [28:26]
  • Lisa talks about RECON, the Reality Escape Convention created by the REA team, which will be held virtually again August 22-23, 2021. [34:27]
  • We discuss the type of content that will be available at RECON including the curated talks, workshops, ARG, games, and even afterparty bars. [35:07]
  • Lisa tells us about the ticket pricing structure for RECON: the basic ticket level which will be pay-what-you-want, and then the bonus pro ticket, which will get you into games and workshops. RECON will have content for people in the industry and for players. [37:21]
  • Lisa gives us a teaser for one of the speakers at RECON ‘21 – Tasha from Project Avatar (see resources below for links to the Hivemind Review). [41:14]
  • We learn that Errol Elumir of the Room Escape Divas podcast will be speaking about how to design puzzles that integrate into a narrative. [42:11]
  • Peih-Gee talks about Errol’s game Present Quest and how it made her cry (see resources below for links to the Hivemind Review). [42:34]
  • David tells us that the inspiration for his style of interviewing came from a Youtube series called Hot Ones, hosted by Sean Evans, who interviews celebrities while they’re eating a series of increasingly spicy hot wings. [45:43]
  • David and Peih-Gee share some of their favorite podcast reviews. [48:24]
  • Lisa shares one of her favorite escape room stories. [55:36]
Amanda's Facebook post announcing that she and Lisa kicked David & Drew's butts in a head to head game.
David and Lisa posing with their friends Amanda and Drew.
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Resources Mentioned in this Episode

Follow Lisa Spira

Podcast Launch Giveaway Winners

Please see our post on Instagram for the winners of the REPOD Launch Giveaway. Special thanks to our generous sponsors of the giveaway.

Support REPOD

Thanks for listening!

Guest Bio

Lisa Spira, Co-Creator of Room Escape Artist and Producer of Reality Escape Pod

Whether she is editing REA’s content, leading the Hivemind, or wrangling the logistics for RECON or the Escape, Immerse, Explore Tours, Lisa is the reason that everything runs like clockwork. As a linguist and data expert, Lisa also leads our Industry Data efforts and is responsible for our annual Industry Reports. Lisa is the heart of REA and also bakes all of our escakes.

Support Room Escape Artist’s Mission

There are lots of ways to support Room Escape Artist, like buying from Amazon or Etsy after clicking into the links included in this post or backing us on Patreon.

The money that we make from these helps us to grow the site and continue to add more value to the community that we love so much.

REPOD Episode 7: Chris Lattner: The Gordon Ramsay of Escape Rooms

In episode 7, we talk to Chris Lattner, CEO and creative director of The Room in Berlin, one of the top-ranked escape room companies in the world, according to TERPECA—the Top Escape Rooms Project Enthusiasts’ Choice Awards. The Room’s immersive adventures have continued to win awards and accolades throughout the years, including our own Room Escape Artist’s Golden Lock Awards.

Chris’ background was as a professional DJ in the techno scene for many years, performing at clubs and festivals around the world. He was also heavily involved in the European geocaching scene, years before escape rooms even existed. After chatting with Chris, it became very clear that he has a focused design philosophy rooted in his past influences.

From guiding party-goers on an immersive emotional journey as a DJ, to creating a world-class geocaching adventure that oftentimes involved climbing equipment and wandering through forests at night, and even playing countless hours of video games, Chris shares with us all his influences and inspirations.

Chris is opinionated, deliberate in his design choices, and full of interesting life experiences. We loved getting inside his head and hearing about how he brings his immersive adventures to life.

dimly lit staircase in what looks like a temple with a picture of a man wearing glasses.

Episode 7

Topics Discussed in this Episode

  • Chris talks about his philosophy regarding renovations and updates to his existing experiences, explaining that when he designs an experience, sometimes the technology for his vision isn’t available yet, but when it does become available, he will update. [2:08] 
  • Chris tells us that his company isn’t really a “puzzle shop” and that he prefers what he calls “tasks” over puzzles. He illustrates the difference between puzzles and tasks, and why he considers “tasks” to be more immersive. [3:45] 
  • David discusses a third type of “puzzle” that he sees in escape rooms, something he calls “challenges,” which require physical dexterity. [5:37]
  • Chris talks to us about why he changed the subtitle of his business name from “Live Escape Game” to “Immersive Adventures,” and what differentiates the two. [6:09]
  • Chris tells us about some of his influences, including open-world video games like Assassin’s Creed, and old point-and-click LucasArts games. [7:08]
  • Chris says that the storytellers of his youth were Steven Spielberg and George Lucas, and talks about what an impression those adventure movies, like Indiana Jones and Ghostbusters, had on him. What he loves most about those movies is the emotional journey on which they take you. [9:10]
  • Chris jokes about being the “Gordon Ramsey” of escape rooms, and acknowledges being a harsh critic of escape rooms. [11:38] 
  • David comments that for him, the best games create a realistic sense of urgency, as opposed to the drive to win the game for the sake of ego. [14:20] 
  • Chris tells us about his past experience designing and creating “extreme” geocaching adventures in 2012, even before escape rooms were a thing. [15:33] (video below)
  • Chris talks about his popular geocache adventure “Dead Men Tell No Tales,” a multi-stage 6-hour experience that required climbing gear, treks into a German forest at night, and crawling through a dark tunnel. He even created a chest with a beating heart, booking system and hint system. [17:15] (video below)
  • Chris explains the terrain ranking system for geocaching, from wheelchair accessible to requiring climbing gear or scuba diving gear. [19:23]
  • Chris talks about “lost places,” abandoned military complexes, and how this type of extreme adventure geocaching is forbidden now. [20:23]
  • Peih-Gee talks about her days as a raver in her twenties, and how they would sneak into these types of “lost places” and throw big underground parties, and the adventure of trying to locate parties in the desert. [21:30]
  • Chris was a professional DJ in the techno scene, performing at clubs and festivals around the world for many years. He talks to us about how he immerses the audience, taking them on a journey, building atmosphere, and controlling the crowd. He discusses the importance of managing the ebb and flow of the energy levels, and how he applies this philosophy to the immersive experiences he creates. [22:50]
  • Chris tells us that for his game The Lost Treasure, they created an automated mechanism where the sound is mixed in real time with a game engine during the game, triggered by the actions of the players. [25:22]
  • In his newest game, Brandon Darkmoor, Chris tells us that his gamemaster is basically “running a real theatre show for just five people.” In this game, the gamemaster is mixing the sound for the games live and triggering scenes by hand. [26:32]
  • Chris talks about the use of scents in his immersive adventures, and how powerful it is in creating a realistic atmosphere. [27:45]
  • SPOILER ALERT: We discuss the political message and narrative story of Chris’ game Go West. Some details are spoilers for the game, so if you haven’t played it and don’t want to be spoiled, you can skip ahead to 32:19. [29:35] 
  • Chris discusses his philosophy behind updating existing older rooms as opposed to completely discarding them. [33:11]
  • Chris tells us that his next immersive experience will be centered around Vikings, inspired by his love of Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, the newest game in the series. He has even consulted a historian to ensure historical accuracy. [35:47]
  • We chat about creating immersive experiences for tourists and using theming based on local history and culture. Chris gives us an example of creating an experience rooted in local history and making use of a unique location, like an old railway station. [37:05]
  • Chris talks about his love of LinkedIn and about his second company, The Room Labs, which creates themed entertainment for restaurants, escape rooms, and museum experiences [39:55]
  • Chris gives us a bonus escape room story. [42:45]

Resources Mentioned in this Episode

Follow Chris Lattner

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

Podcast Launch Giveaway Winners

Please see our post on Instagram for the winners of the REPOD Launch Giveaway. Special thanks to our generous sponsors of the giveaway.

Support REPOD

Thanks for listening!

Guest Bio

Chris Lattner, Owner and Designer at The Room Berlin

After 28 years working as a professional DJ playing techno and house in clubs around the world, Chris decided it was time for something completely different.

His first escape game experience in London in March of 2013 was the ignition point for the decision to open his own escape game in Berlin.

Together with his business partner Jochen Krüger and their former geocaching crew, he opened THE ROOM on the October 3, 2014 after a year of planning and six months of building.

Their first two rooms, GO WEST and THE BEAST OF BERLIN, were more successful than they’d ever imagined and the business quickly grew to a point where a third room made sense.

The goal with the third room was to create something groundbreaking in terms of set design and technical equipment. Thus the team was expanded to include Malte Eiben, who is responsible for programming, and Wilko Drews, with whom Chris designed HUMBOLDT, or THE LOST TREASURE, as it is known today. 

After 8 months of building, THE LOST TREASURE opened to the public in November 2015. It has been extremely well received with many positive reviews from both new and experienced players.

At the end of 2018, THE ROOM opened BRANDON DARKMOOR, a one-of-its-kind immersive adventure.

Support Room Escape Artist’s Mission

There are lots of ways to support Room Escape Artist, like buying from Amazon or Etsy after clicking into the links included in this post or backing us on Patreon.

The money that we make from these helps us to grow the site and continue to add more value to the community that we love so much.

REPOD Episode 6: Anthony Robinson on Immersion, Larp, & Survivor

In episode 6, we sit down with Anthony Robinson, an enthusiastic larper, former castaway on the reality show Survivor Fiji, and long-time contributor to the immersive theatre website No Proscenium.

Anthony was instrumental in how David and I met, connecting us when he brought us both on as guests on a No Proscenium podcast. It only seemed fitting to bring Anthony onto our podcast to chat about immersive gaming and Survivor.

Anthony is an old school larper (Live Action Role Play) who also happened to play Survivor, which is one of the most immersive games in the world. Larping is one of the original forms of immersive gaming, and it was a blast chatting with him about the different types of larp. We also discuss how to incorporate role-playing into our everyday lives. As you may know, David is a huge Survivor fan, so it was fun chatting about Survivor, and in particular, how much the editing can slant to create a certain narrative.

This episode in particular was more of a conversation between friends who have a shared love of deeply nerdy topics, and we hope you’ll enjoy listening along.

Episode 6

Topics Discussed in this Episode

  • We chat about how Anthony introduced David and Peih-Gee when they were all guests on a No Proscenium podcast. [0:45]
  • Peih-Gee talks about when she first met Anthony at the finale party for Survivor China and they bonded over larping. [1:50]
  • We chat about our love of MMORPGs (massive multi-player online Role Playing Games). [2:50]
  • Anthony tells us that City of Heroes has a secret server that is still up and running. [3:01]
  • Anthony talks about how he leaned into his “nerdiness” when he applied for Survivor. [4:44]
  • Anthony was really involved in larping (Live Action Role Play) and he talks to us about what it is, exactly. [5:25]
  • Anthony talks about the different systems of larp – Parlor Larp (more theatrical, less physical), Nordic Larp (more immersive, less physical), Boffer Larp (most physical). [6:20]
  • Anthony tells us about an old Star Wars Larp that used pop-o-matic dice on lightsabers. [7:20]
  • Anthony tells us how he was introduced to larp while studying at Yale – “college and people with foam.” [8:20]
  • We chat about the commonalities of player empowerment in games like larps, ARGs, and even Survivor. [11:25]
  • David talks about his experience with mock trial throughout high school and college and how that was his first introduction to improvisational theatre gameplay. [13:20]
  • We chat about role-playing in our everyday lives. [15:50]
  • Peih-Gee tells a story about the time her mother ran off down a dark alleyway when Peih-Gee was a young child. She probably got her sense of adventure and impetuousness from mother. [19:07]
  • David talks about developing his “expert voice.” [20:12]
  • We learn that David, contrary to Peih-Gee’s expectation, does not play wizards. He prefers ranger- or loner-type roles. [20:30]
  • We chat about alignment in RPGs. [21:50]
  • Anthony and Peih-Gee chat about the dynamics of rocky relationships on Survivor. [25:00]
  • Peih-Gee talks about how editing in reality TV can shape how a character is perceived. [26:30]
  • Anthony talks about experiencing emotional difficulties on Survivor. [28:15]
  • Peih-Gee talks about the evolution of editing and how depictions of masculinity have changed in the past ten years. [29:33]
  • Anthony talks about the need for better aftercare on Survivor, and some of the emotional traumas castaways can experience after coming off the show. [31:15]
  • Anthony shares a bonus story about the time he organized a group of Survivor players to play Stash House, an escape room in Los Angeles, CA. [36:10]
Reality Escape Pod mission patch logo depicts a spaceship puncturing through the walls of reality.

Resources Mentioned in this Episode

Follow Anthony Robinson

Podcast Launch Giveaway Winners

Please see our post on Instagram for the winners of the REPOD Launch Giveaway. Special thanks to our generous sponsors of the giveaway.

Support REPOD

Thanks for listening!

Guest Bio

Anthony Robinson, Survivor Fiji castaway & Associate Editor at No Proscenium

Anthony Robinson is a longtime contributor for No Proscenium. A graduate of Yale’s American Studies Program, Anthony is by turns an old-school larper, sometime assistant director for film and tv, busy dad, theatre nerd, and alumnus of Reality TV’s Survivor. He likes long walks along the beach, a good night dancing to Brit Pop’s greatest hits, making Star Wars-inspired props, and loudly discussing the last immersive theatre experience that he just went through.

two men standing in front of a torch about to be snuffed from the reality tv show survivor

Support Room Escape Artist’s Mission

There are lots of ways to support Room Escape Artist, like buying from Amazon or Etsy after clicking into the links included in this post or backing us on Patreon.

The money that we make from these helps us to grow the site and continue to add more value to the community that we love so much.