Please introduce yourself.
I’m Bob Glouberman. I am one of five partners in Get the F Out, the company that produced the Virus escape room. I am the writer, designer, and puzzle creator of the Virus Room.
Why did you decide to get involved in the escape room industry?
I am the founder and creator of Fantastic Race, a scavenger hunt company that uses puzzles in order to get from one location to the next. Entering the escape room industry was just the logical next move. I love all kinds of puzzles. Word puzzles, physical puzzles, scientific based puzzles, codes, logic puzzles, cryptograms, crossword puzzles, board games, trivia….you name it. The escape room is just another medium to provide puzzles to the player in an interesting environment. There are many similarities and differences between Fantastic Race and the escape room experience. One big difference is that the escape room is a contained medium to provide puzzles to the player and can do so with a singular theme and story. I have enjoyed building The Virus and it has helped me develop the future Fantastic Races I am currently working on.
What makes The Virus unique from other escape games?
I built The Virus to be the next level in escape rooms. I wanted The Virus to be incredibly immersive in a way that I had not yet experienced in other escape rooms. That’s why I partnered with many Hollywood industry professionals to provide state of the art sound, special effects, sets, lights, and virtual reality. The virtual reality is another way to completely immerse the player in the escape room. The entire first 8-10 minutes of the escape room is a virtual one, where the player is propelled from the parking lot into a virtual elevator and then across miles of pneumatic tubes across an underground cave. It is a wild Disneyland type of ride and prepares the player for everything that comes next. I had never experienced anything like it and I wanted that to be the introduction to our room.
Additionally, the puzzles themselves are completely thematically integrated into the room. The room is a laboratory and based in science so we wanted the puzzles to do the same. We have puzzles based in magnetism, lasers, optics, chemistry, physics, temperature, water displacement, light spectra, and computer science. Every segment of the room has been devoted to the scientific theme and it provides a really cool through line.
Finally, most rooms have a ticking clock to mark down the amount of time left in the room. We have walls that slowly and imperceptibly close in on the players to bestow a psychological urgency that I have not found in any other room.
What’s it like for you watching players play your game?
It’s both wonderful and horrible. For me it’s emotionally draining. I want the players to have the most incredible experience going through the room. But, I undergo a weird X-Files like emotional identification with the individual teams and if they are frustrated, I am frustrated. If the players are excited, so am I. When they win and escape the room, I am exhilarated. When they lose, I am saddened. I come home late at night and eat a pizza.
What do you think is the most important part of an escape room design?
For me the most important part of an escape room is complete immersion in a story. I want the players to feel like they are in a movie. Story, puzzles, and decor all combine to create this movie like experience. I feel the best escape rooms make me forget that I am in reality and provide me with this interactive and cinematic experience.
What advice do you have for players?
Winning is not important. Too many escape room people are too invested in the escape itself. I believe the escape is unimportant. It’s how you play the game. In both Fantastic Race and in The Virus, none of the owners cares who wins and who loses. We do not talk about one team being amazing and one team being lame. We talk about the wonder and surprise they exhibited, having discovered one puzzle or whether or not they responded to the virtual reality with squeals of delight. The “aha moments” are what count to us and we hope to the player.