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.


David Spira


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


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.


In alphabetical order

Andrew Reynolds

Hivemind Writer & Escape Room Reviewer

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 expanded his range of interests to include immersive theater and just about any puzzle he can get his hands on.

He loves games that include elements of spectacle to create memorable experiences. Mechanically, in both board games and escape rooms, Andrew looks forward to cooperation. He especially enjoys when an escape room splits the team into different spaces and demands clear communication to advance.

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 US and even a few in the UK, including puzzles for Netflix promotions and 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 classes on escape room design and puzzle creation.
He maintains a collection of links to articles on all aspects of escape room development, from narrative to puzzles to tech, at If you meet him in person, he’ll probably try to show you a puzzle.

Cara Mandel

Hivemind Writer


Cara is a master of burning her candle at both ends. By day, she is the Senior Producer, AltspaceVR and Microsoft Mesh at Microsoft. She is also the Co-Founder and CEO of Interwoven Immersive, Inc. 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 

RECON Team & Hivemind Writer

If you’ve ever emailed the RECON inbox, you’ve probably talked to Cindi. She’s been with REA since the first RECON, answering attendee questions, wrangling speakers, and now coordinating sponsorships for RECON Remote 23. Cindi’s also a reviewer for REA. She’s played half as many escape rooms as Lisa & David, but is trying her best to catch up! #EscapeRoomGoals  

Cindi looks for unique themes and detailed, immersive scenery that make players feel in the experience. She also appreciates intelligent puzzles that lead to those wonderful a-ha! moments.   When not travelling to play another escape room, Cindi loves puzzle-y tabletop games and has a huge stack to catch up on. But that doesn’t stop her from looking for the next Kickstarter to add to her collection.

Eva headshot

Eva Radding


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


Hivemind Writer & Escape Room Reviewer

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


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 is also opening an immersive gaming venue in Boston called “The Immersive” in mid 2022.

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.

Kate Wastl headshot.

Kate Wastl

RECON Team, Hivemind Writer & Escape Room Reviewer

A project manager by day, Kate is the RECON Event Manager and a writer for Room Escape Artist. She is an escape room addict from Western New York whose favorite hobby is hopping flights to marathon rooms with the REA team and other enthusiasts.

Kate appreciates immersion and set design in an experience, and she values puzzle-y, non-linear design. When she is not playing, planning, or writing about escape rooms, Kate volunteers as an EMT and adores playing euchre.

Lee-Fay holding her cat.

Lee-Fay Low


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.

Lee-Fay likes to feel like an adventurer when playing an escape room – she loves actors, immersive sets, and story! She might sometimes even admit to not care that much about puzzles.

Matthew Stein

Hivemind Writer & Escape Room Reviewer

In addition to being an Escape Room Reviewer and Hivemind writer for REA, Matthew Stein is also a puzzle designer, violinist, composer, printmaker, and software engineer. With his company Enigmida, he has created puzzle hunts, alternative reality games, escape rooms, and treasure hunts for an eclectic range of clients, including an art journal, an electro-pop DJ, a Michelin 3-star restaurant, and a klezmer festival.

As an escape room player, Matthew especially values innovative puzzle design, off-beat theming, and nuanced storytelling and character development. You can follow along with Matthew’s puzzles and writings on Instagram @enigmida, his Patreon, and his website:

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


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.

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.” 

She is the co-host of REPOD, a podcast exploring escape rooms and immersive gaming and hosts live on stage at RECON. Peih-Gee is really excited about the direction that escape rooms are headed. To her, the best ones feature more immersion with movie quality sets, well-crafted puzzles that provide a sense of accomplishment, astonishing reveals, and magical moments with in-game characters. She loves narrative-driven games with lots of player interactions & clever wordplay, but hates math puzzles and poor functionality that distracts from immersion.

Peih-Gee also has the world’s cutest dog, Yum Yum.

Richard Burns

RECON Team, 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.

Headshot of Sarah Mendez

Sarah Mendez

Hivemind Writer & Escape Room Reviewer

Even though Sarah has been puzzling since Monkey Island, her escape room obsession didn’t fully materialize until she started playing them with her husband in 2019. They found escape rooms to be a way to appreciate each others’ strengths, stretch communication skills, and share adventure. Together, they explore IRL rooms, tabletop games, online offerings, and even creating their own experiences. Meanwhile, Sarah’s two kids (ages 7 and 10) help her evaluate games from a family perspective and are eager to follow in their parents’ footsteps.

As a player, Sarah wants to feel accomplishment and camaraderie with her team, so multi-layered deductions, satisfying discoveries, and collaboration opportunities always woo her. In her regular life, Sarah spends her time parenting, road-tripping, writing, and making plans. That’s all exactly as mysterious as it sounds.

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

Sarah Willson

Product + Escape Room Reviewer

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.

black and white photo of man smiling holding a microphone and headphones

Steve Ewing

Video Game Correspondent & Reality Escape Pod Editor

Steve is passionate about all things audio-visual. A childhood King’s Quest compulsion became a zeal for escape rooms. A high school NPR habit evolved into a podcast addiction. And in his most fortunate turn of fate, a lifelong love for PBS science shows became a career filming and editing nature documentaries for Lindblad-National Geographic Expeditions.

He is thrilled to lend his talents as an editor for, Constructed Adventures, and the Reality Escape Pod.

Steve loves to be surprised by an escape room that’s off-meta. Flip the script on any element — the way you build a set, open a lock, or even give a hint and you’ve got his attention. He’s even been suckered in by a fake refrigerator door.

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) and holds the Guinness World Record for the fastest time to complete the Hasbro puzzle.

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 & Product Reviewer


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

RECON Team, Hivemind Writer, & Escape Room Reviewer

Theresa is a chaotic neutral goblin from Washington, DC, who has trusted strangers to lock her in rooms more than 283 times. She loves having as much fun as utterly possible. Any hat or anything that can be worn on the head she will immediately put on and run around causing chaos.

Escape rooms with strong puzzles that fit into the narrative are her favorite. The weirder the theme, the better! When she isn’t on another Escape Room adventure, Theresa can be found playing Warhammer, video games, board games, Magic the Gathering, or looking up videos of Mariachi bands playing for beluga whales.