“Guys, I think there’s a puzzle behind me.” – An Interview with an Enthusiast

This month in An Interview with an Enthusiast, we spoke to Deb, or as you may know her Deb Explores on Instagram, Youtube, Twitter, and Facebook or as a member of Three Yees Escape Team. Deb is an escape room super fan based in Scotland, but when we’re not in a global pandemic she can be found travelling round the world vlogging about theme parks!

Tell us about yourself!

Hello! I’m Deb! I’m from central Scotland but when there’s not a travel ban you can usually find me over in the states visiting often. 

In the world of escapes, I was first an enthusiast – fairly recent since it took time to find like-minded individuals, making friends as an adult is hard! – then I became a Games Master which I’ve been doing since the end of last year. 

I’ve also helped a lot with painting and design and do digital marketing for my work so I’ve got a lot of freedom to be creative which I love! I was actually offered a job with a big company some years ago where I’d work with maintaining props and puppets but unfortunately it wasn’t meant to be in the end so I’m thankful I’ve had this opportunity now in my life. Sometimes things have a funny way of working out and it’s one of the best jobs I’ve had for sure!

Photo (c) Deb Explores on Instagram

How have the last 2 years of your life been, global pandemic and all?

Ha. It’s been a rollercoaster for sure!

I was working in Orlando at Disney World when the pandemic happened. My program was for a year but after 6 months we were all sent back home. It was pretty heartbreaking, not just leaving my job early but also my friends and my first official escape team (Three Yees). We actually found out Disney World was closing while in an Asylum escape room. That’s some kind of cruel foreshadowing of the never-ending UK lockdown right there! 

All that being said and still having not seen most of my friends or my partner face to face in well over a year now, I’ve had a lot of good things happen too – my job working as a Games Master for one! Lockdown months also gave me time to really sit and think about my future and I’m excited to be starting university in the fall to study something new and exciting!

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

Rug! Can I add a rug? We wasted a hint by not lifting a rug before! 

But for those options then definitely the desk. Never take pictures out of the frames. Don’t be that guy! Haha. We glue ours closed.

Escape Rooms, Board Games, Video Games, Theme Parks, Immersive Experiences..? What’s your poison?

Oh wow… so many things I love. So, obviously Escape Rooms 🙂 

I’m definitely also a gamer. I grew up with a commodore amiga (showing my age here haha) then moved onto the Sega and Playstation. Puzzles have always been a big part of my life before escape rooms were even a thing. Currently i’m still playing Zelda Breath of the Wild and I’m a completionist so I won’t stop till I find every shrine! 

Theme Parks are what I vlog a lot of and visiting the states I tend to visit Disney and Universal parks often. I’ve mostly visited those in Orlando but when the travel ban is lifted I’ll be visiting those in California soon. Tokyo is also on my list to visit their Disney parks and just the city in general.

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

When the world is more accessible and opened up I often vlog. I have made a little series of videos here in Scotland but I mostly enjoy it across the pond. The problem is a lot of events still haven’t been happening in Scotland that attend or have been happening virtually so it’s not the same experience. I’m also saving for a flight to the US as soon as the ban is lifted so I’m a bit restricted in where I can go at the moment. I have done a few reviewing some online escape rooms so if you’re interested in those or travel when it fully returns then you can find me at Deb Explores on YouTube. 

During lockdown I also spent a lot of time doing jigsaws and I still do now and again. Otherwise video games, haunts when it’s spooky season, cinema… A lot of the past year has been spent on different facetime or zoom calls, I need to get back out into the world again! It’s crazy cause for the past 5 years I’ve travelled a lot or worked to make money to travel, I worked on a cruise ship for a couple years too, and suddenly it’s been such a change of lifestyle. It’ll all return though, we’re getting there in most places around the world 🙂 

So which was your very first escape room that hooked you?

It was actually as part of a job interview. Years ago when escape rooms were just starting up in the UK I interviewed for a company and they invited me along after a chat to check out their rooms and see what the job entailed. I got locked in 2 of their rooms that day and I was a lot more timid back then so it was rather nerve wracking being locked in a room to solve by myself! I did it! I escaped! But I was a little underwhelmed which was partially because I’d see some online in the US that looked like something out of the crystal maze already and partially because it’s just not as fun escaping without a team to cheer with! 

What are some of the most memorable escapes you’ve ever had?

Ah I have so many! 

I was escaping as the Three Yees with a company where you watch the story and some safety while inside the room. You’re not meant to start solving puzzles but… you know? You have a look around… So while trying to look inconspicuous, staring forward and trying not to move my lips too much I alerted my team quietly, “Guys, there’s a puzzle behind me”. Of course, I’m constantly reminded of this to the point it’s on a reusable tumbler my friend Chloe made me. Imagine there being puzzles in an Escape Room? 

Another time I was with Chloe and Dylan in an Asylum room where the staff kept turning the lights off on us if we didn’t obey certain requests of the ghost. I feel like the GMs must have had a good laugh when the lights turned off and upon coming back up, Chloe and I were holding onto each other like something from Scooby Doo. We were also not meant to put anything on a rocking chair that belonged to our ghost but of course, Dylan forgot and absolutely did to which Chloe came up whispering in my ear, “Don’t look but Dylan has put the briefcase on her chair….”. 

Not an escape room, but I often go to Orlando for spooky season. On my last Halloween visit there, I was at a media event for a new haunt where I had an experience with a glowing necklace that meant scare actors could interact with me more. I had a blast! I was crawling around small spaces (RIP sunglasses) and was also locked in a cell with some pirates playing head to head playground games to win coins for a hidden bar. I can’t wait till I get to visit again for spooky season! Haunts are some of my favourite immersive events! 

Photo (c) Three Yees on Instagram

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

It only works for certain rooms but I’d have to go with the Ghostbusters theme. I used to work in the Edinburgh Vaults as a Ghost Tour Guide and when closing down and locking up at night I’d always sing that to myself. “I ain’t afraid of no ghost!” 

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

Have you seen the Escape Room movies?… Just kidding! 

You are ‘locked’ in a room for 60 minutes (or the time allocated) where you have to find clues and solve puzzles in order to achieve your goal and escape! 

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

I’d probably go for something Tomb themed, think Indiana Jones with it’s crawl spaces and a full adrenaline inducing experience. Of course I’d have to have some gross aspects to it like having to search for something through ‘monkey brain soup’ or hands in holes in the walls with fake bugs or slime. 

From the first room you’d progress deeper into the tomb with pressure pads set to trigger both good and not so good results…

I’d use more tech than locks to give it that full explorer feel: maglocks hiding secret cupboards, something to do with arrows in the right slots or places, maybe a directional puzzle cause we all love those hehe and possibly a knock knock or audio puzzle. I’m a fan of electronics and not GM triggers so I’d want to have the teams be able to trigger things by themselves. There’s a nice feeling when you know you’ve done something yourself. I’d definitely end it with grabbing a mysterious artifact setting off something within the tomb to leave you running from a boulder chasing you as you make your escape! Imagine the team running down a corridor towards a themed slide at the end and escaping down it to safety! Phew! 

The UK health and safety guidelines would absolutely not allow much of that so I’d have to relocate because I’d want to be near it. I visited a haunt with a slide a couple of years ago and it was epic! One in an escape room would be so cool! 

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

I’m not much of the online puzzle designer, my mind works better with tech and physical puzzles but I do do some basic ones for my work’s social media so I’ll give you one of these 👇

Photo (c) Escape Stirling

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