What Happens When You Mix Open Bars with Escape Rooms? – An Interview with an Enthusiast

I’m Chapter 2 of our “Interview with an Enthusiast” series, I spoke to Jamie from Armchair Escapist about all things escape rooms! Jamie is best known for covering escape rooms in Wales with his comprehensive reviews BUT did you know he’s also an escape game designer himself? Check out Dragon Egg Quest today!

Jamie Gibbs - escape room reviewer, creator of Armchair Escapist and puzzle designer

Tell me about yourself!

Hi, I’m Jamie! I’m a somewhat overly enthusiastic geek stereotype from South Wales. I’m a puzzle designer and escape game reviewer over at Armchair Escapist. I cover escape rooms in Wales as well as play-at-home escape games.

The million dollar question – how many escape rooms have you done?

Here’s my shameful secret – I’ve only done about 40 real life escape rooms. Not even enough for my first escake! I’ll show myself out. 

I don’t get to travel much, so the vast majority of the rooms I’ve done are the ones near to me in South Wales.

Which was your very first escape room?

My first room was at Escape Rooms Cardiff when they launched, about five years back. As a former (disgraced) Egyptologist, I made a beeline for their Egyptian room – The Tomb. I was hooked instantly!

I went back and redid it a few years later to see whether I’d been wearing rose-tinted glasses, and it still held up. A very fun room to play!

Photo (c) Wales Online

What are some of the most memorable experiences you’ve ever had in an escape room?

I once did two rooms while pretty drunk. I was at a launch event and was waiting for some friends to arrive before we played one of their rooms. There was an open bar …

We didn’t get out. It didn’t help that it was their hardest room, and being three sheets to the wind definitely didn’t work in our favour.

We then tried their second hardest room, but there was about a 45 minute wait to get it ready and the open bar was still there.

Yeah, that worked out as expected.

Desk, plant pot, picture frame – which do you look under first?

Always the plant. Everything else is too obvious. Plus you look like a raging madman if the first thing you do is start hauling the greenery around, so everyone knows you’re serious.

The last TV show you watched suddenly gets its own licensed escape room. Hooray, or oh no?

I’ve been watching The Irregulars on Netflix, so that would make for a wonderful escape room. Victoriana, paranormal happenings, a sprinkling of Sherlock Holmes. It’s a huge hooray from me!

Image (c) The Irregulars

Can you think of a song that would make the perfect soundtrack for how you tackle an escape room?

I tried my best to find something both thematic and cool, but it didn’t happen. So it’s going to be Complicated by Avril Lavigne. If there’s one thing I do in an escape room it’s over complicate the simplest of puzzles.

And keep me away from the maths puzzles. I’ll say I can do them but under any kind of time pressure my brain turns to soup.

When you’re not escaping from locked rooms, what do you like to do in your free time?

I’m busy making them! I’ve started doing some freelance puzzle design, and I’ve made a print-at-home game for kids to collect missing dragon eggs.

I’m also parent to a toddler so any notion of ‘free time’ is inconsistent at best.

How would you explain escape rooms to people who have never played one before?

Escape rooms are a self-contained, hour-long team adventure with puzzles. You can be an explorer, an astronaut, a spy or a pirate for 60 minutes while you and your friends are in your own cross between an immersive roleplaying game and The Crystal Maze.

If I gave you a blank cheque to create a dream escape room, what would it be like?

I’d recreate the adventure from The Goonies – you’d start at a lighthouse restaurant and work your way through tunnels, booby traps and puzzles to wind up on One-Eyed Willy’s pirate ship. It would be epic! There’d be a lot of Rube Goldberg style machinery to give it that old school feel.

Can you imagine having to solve a puzzle that leads to a water slide? Shut up and take all of my money!

Can you give me a short puzzle for me (and my readers) to solve?

How about the puzzle I crafted based on your suggestion last Halloween? See if you can solve The Demon’s Smile:

Image (c) Armchair Escapist – check out the link below for the full puzzle!

A huge shout out to Jamie who runs Armchair Escapist for this brilliant interview! Jamie also creates fantastic play at home escape room games, go check out his site here!

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