Contributors

REA blue puzzle logo

Room Escape Artist has a pair of original founders, but the team that makes all of this happen is much larger.

Whether they are producing content or the Reality Escape Convention, so many people contribute to the escape room and immersive gaming community through Room Escape Artist.

Co-Founders

David Spira

President

David conceived of Room Escape Artist because he saw the potential of this new entertainment medium back in 2014. From the start, he applied his professional skills as a digital experience designer to the burgeoning industry of escape rooms. David is full of ideas: from in-depth research pieces to new content types… like cute animals solving puzzles. He is always pushing REA to try new things, take risks, and be something more.

Lisa Spira

Editor-In-Chief

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.

Contributors

In alphabetical order

Andrew Reynolds

Hivemind Writer

By day, Andrew is a history and special education teacher. By night…and weekends…and afternoons if he can swing it, he is an avid escape room player. Since playing his first room in 2017, he has travelled thousands of miles to feed his obsession, and expanded his range of interests to include immersive theater and just about any puzzle he can get his hands on. When he’s not puzzling, he can be found talking to his cat or staring at his oven waiting for something delicious to finish baking.

Brendan Lutz

Hivemind Infrastructure & Occasional Musings

RECON Team: Technology & Infrastructure

Brendan has been an escape room player since 2014, and is a former Great Gotham Challenge Champion & Runner Up. He loves the thrill of a good search-and-discovery escape room. He also loves being a part of growing companies, events, communities… and is a bit of a startup junkie.

Brett Kuehner

Hivemind Writer

Brett “That Guy With The Puzzles” Kuehner has designed puzzles and control system technology for escape rooms across the country, including the tech for Risa Puno’s Privilege of Escape (REA Reaction). He also collects mechanical puzzles. A lot of mechanical puzzles. Puzzle boxes are his favorite, but don’t tell the other puzzles; they might get jealous. He plays escape rooms wherever and whenever he can, and encourages new designers by teaching an escape room design class at a high school in Bergen County, NJ.

Cara Mandel

Hivemind Writer

Cara is a master of burning her candle at both ends. By day, she is the Story Experience Producer for Meow Wolf. She is also the Co-Founder and CEO of Interwoven Immersive, Inc. and a frequent Contributor/ Festival Correspondent for No Proscenium. When she isn’t reviewing escape rooms for Room Escape Artist, she can probably be found… playing other escape rooms or attending immersive shows. No, YOU have a problem!

Cindi Headshot

Cindi Saiewitz 

Hivemind Writer & Project Manager

RECON Team: Speaker & Attendee Coordinator

In her professional life, Cindi is an experienced communicator known for solving problems, developing teams, and getting things done. In her unprofessional life, Cindi is an experienced communicator known for solving puzzles, yelling “Did you look under the rug?” at her team, and getting out just before the hour is up. She’s escaped from rooms in Spain, Japan, Hong Kong, Ireland, Australia and all over the United States, and is thrilled to be a part of REA and RECON. Cindi resides in Austin, Texas, but you can often find her wandering through Mansions of Madness, hoping not to run into Cthulhu.

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Eva Radding

Editor

Eva grew up in a family where editing was the family sport, and she is happy to share that passion with Room Escape Artist.  Her career as a librarian and archivist is the perfect place to geek out on attention to detail. Eva has known Lisa longer than anyone else has, and is thrilled that Lisa introduced her to both escape rooms and David.

Headshot of Lindsay Froelich

Fro

Hivemind Writer

Lindsay “Fro” Froelich has played more than 300 escape rooms in 12 countries across 4 continents. She spent several months being sad that she wasn’t invited to join the REA Hivemind, but eventually realized she actually has to read the emails Lisa sends her. When she isn’t playing rooms, she can be found traveling the globe solo, hitting up concerts, watching the sunset on the beach, or planning her next scuba diving adventure. With many of those activities currently unavailable, her greatest quarantine achievements include developing a taste for IPAs, learning to do cryptic crossword puzzles, and finally watching The Wire.

James as a Lego person headshot.

James Cobalt

RECON Team: The Jack of So Many Trades

James is a professional generalist and many-hats-wearer from the agency and events world. He’s produced commercials and radio ads, created narrative-driven puzzle hunts, performed sound engineering for immersive attractions, developed viral campaigns covered by international media, worked on numerous award-winning website projects, and co-organized the past ten annual Boston Midnight Marathons. Thanks to his lack of impulse control and fundamental misunderstanding of how sleep works, James also has an exciting play-at-home escape game in development. This premium game will be launching in early 2021.  

Joel Smileypeacefun

Hivemind Writer

Joel a.k.a. Smileypeacefun is an escape room enthusiast, gamemaster, blogger, and room designer from Switzerland. He describes himself as queer, with crazy hair colors and creative ideas. Being a volunteer at a local organization, he played his first room in 2014 as a team activity, and he was hooked ever since. He even wrote his bachelor’s thesis about escape rooms. He was over the moon to meet David and Lisa in 2018. Fast forward to now: he is a hivemind reviewer who focuses heavily on puzzle design.

Lee-Fay holding her cat.

Lee-Fay Low

RECON Team: Volunteer Queen Bee

Lee-Fay spends a lot of time thinking about how people experience things, and how we can improve that experience. Her day job is as a psychologist and research academic. Lee-Fay has enjoyed meeting playful peeps from around the world as part of the escape room community. She was part of the team that undertook the Escape Room Enthusiasts Survey in 2018 and 2019.

Matthew Stein

Hivemind Writer

Matthew is a San Francisco-based puzzle designer, violinist/ composer, letterboxer, printmaker, and origamist. Formerly a software engineer at YouTube, he now spreads enigmatic wonder with his company Enigmida – creating alternate reality games, puzzle hunts, and puzzle-based immersive theater, and teaching workshops on escape room and puzzle design. In his free time, he’s also an avid puzzle hunt solver and has played nearly 200 escape rooms. Matthew moonlights as a folk fiddler: his klezmer trio Baymele is working on their debut album In Veldele, and he plays in a number of other Eastern European, Celtic, and classical music ensembles.

Melissa's headshot, wearing a stunning key necklace.

Melissa Miller

Directory Co-Manager

Melissa Miller and her husband Darren caught the puzzling and escaping bug back in May 2015, and they have been hooked ever since. Melissa also enjoys trying to find as many escape rooms across the country as possible so that others can experience the thrill of puzzling games. She has been happy to help contribute to REA’s directory over the past few years.

Headshot of Michael "Auggie" Augustine

Michael “Auggie” Augustine

RECON TEAM: In-House Maker of Mysteries

Auggie is a Brand Strategist by day, specializing in social data and analytics as well as big-picture ideation and campaign development. He is also a student, creator, and enthusiast in all things escape room and immersive. He’s played over 150 games and placed 10th in Red Bull Mindgamers 2019 Escape Room World Championships as one of the 4 members of Team Slackers United. He has also created a handful of escape rooms for clients, as well as ideated, created, and produced a 6-month grant-funded alternate reality game in Cincinnati in 2017.

Michelle Calabro

Hivemind Writer

Michelle’s creative practice has included drawing, painting, photography, videography, and game design. She spent a few years as a set design and photo assistant in New York. In 2015, she helped build an escape room in New Orleans, designing puzzles and creating custom props. She consulted on 2 escape rooms for AMEX at CES in 2017, which gained recognition in Event Marketer’s List of Top 10 Experiences at CES 2017. In 2020 Michelle will release a board game called The Forger, which was an Official Selection in Indiecade 2016. Since then she’s been a juror for Indiecade.

Peih-Gee Law

Hivemind Writer & Reality Escape Pod Co-Host

Peih-Gee is most well known for being a fan favorite contestant on the reality show Survivor, where she played first in Survivor China in 2007, and again in a returning All-Star season Survivor Second Chance. She calls Survivor “the greatest immersive game in the world.” Peih-Gee is an ardent fan of escape rooms and immersive entertainment, and she considers herself an ambassador for the escape room community. Loves: narrative-driven games with lots of player interactions, wordplay. Hates: Math puzzles and poor functionality that distracts from immersion. She loves jigsaw puzzles, watercolor painting, and playing board games. She lives in Los Angeles with her pet shrimp, her cat Butter, and her sister.

Richard Burns

Industry Correspondent & Hivemind Writer

Richard is a player enthusiast from Wisconsin. He is a writer for Room Escape Artist, a RECON volunteer, and a bit of an escape room philosopher. For him, reading, writing, talking and thinking about escape rooms and what they can be is just as interesting as playing them. Always on the lookout for innovation and advances in the industry, Richard appreciates the business of escape rooms as much as the games themselves. He values story, character, and creativity over pure puzzling. He sees a bright future for the industry as it evolves into a more mature storytelling medium.

Sarah Mendez

Hivemind Writer

Sarah is a teacher-turned-information architect-turned-pandemic homeschooler who’s been puzzling since Monkey Island, but only started serious escape-rooming in 2019. After exhausting her local Austin market, she and her husband (the “Escape Room-antics”!) couldn’t travel far for their new hobby without abandoning their young kids. Logically, Sarah’s only recourse was to develop her own garage escape room…until the pandemic unexpectedly brought new experiences straight to her. As a player, Sarah wants to feel accomplishment and camaraderie with her team, so multilayered deductions, satisfying discoveries, and collaboration opportunities always woo her. Trivia, singing, and acting do not.

Sarah Willson in a security jacket at SCRAP's Mummy game.

Sarah Willson

Los Angeles Correspondent

Sarah is a writer, editor, and puzzle designer who delights in solving problems of all kinds. Enchanted from a young age by games like Myst and The 7th Guest, she wished very hard that escape rooms existed until they finally did and her life was complete.

Steve Ewing in a bright orange jacket in Antarctica

Steve Ewing

Video Game Correspondent

As a Video Chronicler with Lindblad-National Geographic Expeditions, Steve finds himself nose-to-nose with grey whales, orangutans, and tortoises as a normal part of his day job. Steve earned his degree in Journalism from University of Oregon.

Tammy McLeod

Hivemind Writer

Tammy does any and all of the puzzle things. She loves Sudoku competitions, jigsaw contests, and puzzle hunts. Her first escape room was in 2014 and as of this writing, she has played over 400 real-life games, more than 80 remote games, and has lost count of boxed games played. Tammy was on the US team at both Red Bull World Escape Championships (2017 and 2019).

The Lone Puzzler

Hivemind Writer

The Lone Puzzler is a veteran nomadic puzzler who has spent time travelling around the country in search of a good game or two. Originally schooled on puzzling from location-based puzzle hunts like Ravenchase, Shinteki, The Game, and BAPHL, The Lone Puzzler has been to many games in many out-of-the way places. Never one to shy away from a challenge, he will play solo or with any random group of puzzlers. Once we get done with this pandemic thing, watch out for him coming to a town near you!

Theresa Piazza

Hivemind Writer

RECON Team: Exhibitor & Sponsor Coordinator

Theresa has been an avid escape room (probably, over-) enthusiast since 2015. She’s played more than 200 rooms, and has been known to hop flights just to escape. She enjoys puzzle hunts, collaborative board games, crosswords, jigsaw puzzles, and immersive entertainment.

Theresa W

Hivemind Writer

Theresa is a chaotic neutral goblin from Washington, DC, who has trusted strangers to lock her in rooms 283 times. When not trying the same code 8 times in a directional lock (of course the combo is right!), she can be found playing Warhammer, video games, board games, Magic the Gathering, or looking up videos of Mariachi bands playing for beluga whales. She used to compete in Super Smash Brothers Melee and Rainbow 6 Siege, but now focuses her video game energy on speedrunning, including Portal 2 and Sly Cooper. Oh, and she also has pet snails.