The Business of Breaking Out

Category: community 635

Fredericton’s only board game café plan escape rooms.

Escape Rooms_
Unplugged’s Travis Grant.

Last February, Unplugged opened for business as Fredericton’s first and only board game café.  Since their doors first opened, hundreds of friends and families have enjoyed a safe, fun filled night on the town filled with risks, challenges and skill testing questions.

Now, one year later, Unplugged is preparing to expand its entertainment offerings with the addition of three escape rooms located above their Queen Street location.

“It’s an interesting thing that seems to be sweeping across the globe,” said Unplugged co-owner Travis Grant.

The escape room craze originated in Japan nearly a decade ago and has since spread around the world.  It’s estimated that there are now over 3000 escape rooms worldwide and that number continues to grow.

For the uninitiated, escape rooms present participants with a series of clues and puzzles that challenge a group’s collective ability to solve problems and work as a team in order to ‘escape’ the room.

While Unplugged is not the first business to introduce this growing entertainment trend to Fredericton thrill seekers, Grant believes his business may have a bit of an edge on the competition through its already popular board game café.

“One of the things that I think is going to work for us is that we already have an infrastructure with the board game café,” he said.  “So unlike others that exist locally at the moment, we’ll be able to tie in prizes through Unplugged.”

Grant also believes that by developing scalable levels of difficulty, they will be able to cater the patron experience based on the age and ability.

“Each of our rooms are going to have their own theme and level of difficultly,” he said. “We have a big family community that comes to Unplugged. We have people in their twenty’s and thirty’s but also families with young teenagers. Escape rooms are generally themed towards young adults and the clues can be a little hard.  My goal is to eventually have the rooms set up so that with some advanced notice, we can scale the room’s difficulty so that all members of a family can feel involved in solving the puzzles. I’d like the parents and their children to all have fun. That’s one of my eventual goals.”

Escapes rooms are often themed as a way to create a storyline that supports the clues and puzzles found within. The Mysterious Study, The Dark Alter and Dracula’s Library are just a few of the popular escape rooms currently operating in Ontario, where the trend has become incredibly popular.

Based on he and his business partner’s experience visiting escape rooms in Ottawa and other cities, Grant and the Unplugged team have put a lot of work into making their escape rooms the best in the region. Everything from the room’s decor and theme to the puzzles and clues themselves have been carefully planned in hopes of creating a memorable and exciting experience for everyone, from the novice to the most experienced escape room veterans.

“My business partner has gone to a couple of rooms where there are puzzles but they don’t really fit the theme of the room, or the room doesn’t have much of a theme to it,” he said.  “We took a lot of that information and put it into the planning of our rooms. It’s a pretty outlandish thing to be begin with, but we’re working to design our rooms with some degree of believability.”

The escape rooms at Unplugged are expected to be open by spring. Follow Unplugged online for the latest information.

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