Brian Corbitt – Owner, designer, builder, manager
Why did you decide to get involved in the escape room industry?
I was first interested in the escape room industry when I was looking for off season work from my Halloween job at Circus Circus that took up half the year. I was driving through Vegas and saw a place called Live Escape Games and wanted to check it out. Of course the way I do such things is by sending an interest letter for employment so I could get a better view from the behind the scenes aspect. I accidentally found a different escape room, Countdown Live Escape Games, a problem which is apparently all too common in the industry. I worked for Countdown for a month but had made it quite clear I was a temporary asset. While there, I had the opportunity to redesign one of their rooms finale which, in my opinion was leaps and bounds better than the previous setup. After I left and moved to California, the owner, Ethan was approached by a Los Angeles escape room called CAPTVT about selling their business to him. He jumped on the opportunity as their rooms were gorgeous but their puzzles were lacking. As fate would have it, the manager he had lined up for the store fell through and I was just recently leaving a job I had grown a distaste for. This allowed the perfect setting for me to take over as the general manager of the LA branch.
What makes your rooms unique? And what do you think is the most important part of an escape room design?
Our rooms are different from most as I am a set dresser from the Halloween industry. This means my attention to the atmosphere of my rooms is a priority before all else. I want the immersion to be high enough that people actually feel like they are part of a story. Our Krampus room is the best demonstration of my vision of what rooms should be. To many rooms I’ve walked into with plain walls and sparse furniture that has no rhyme or reason. These setups suck the life out of the experience. The beauty of the industry is the lack of oversight so that all escape rooms can be unique in their designs. This double edged sword is also why you get those sub-par rooms that seem to lack the vision of others. Puzzles are definitely the next point that needs to be covered as you need to walk a fine line of balanced gameplay. Our puzzles need to be challenging enough for the veterans yet still accessible enough for new players. It is an extremely difficult thing to accomplish as all people are different and you are playing to the statistics of the players since you can’t please everyone. The exact moment we strive to achieve with Countdown is the last minute exit. I love seeing groups with 1 minute left of the clock struggling so hard to get out and just managing to burst out of the room before the time ends. To me this is the greatest feeling for the player. Half of them have given up at this point but one or two are still scrambling with the final puzzle. If I could give all my players this experience reliably I would because the pure mix of emotions at this point really creates the lasting experience. I am rooting for each and every group that comes through to get out, but alas, it just doesn’t work that way.
What advice do you have for players?
The biggest downfall of players is communication. Every other game it feels like someone finds something or they do something and they don’t effectively communicate it to the rest of their team. Maybe it’s because everyone else is busy in their own space, but what really helps is working together as a hive mind instead of as individuals. They need to organize their efforts so they fully understand all the tools they are working with before attempting to tackle a puzzle. One little lost piece of information could cost them the game.
Anything else you’d like to share?
The escape room community is still growing. Each and every day a new room will open with their own twist on the escape room template. It’s exciting to see what new and crazy ideas will be hatched to really help diversify the industry. There may not be brand loyalty (can’t do most games twice) but there will definitely be brand supporting as you begin to hear about which rooms you need to try and which you should avoid. We have such high potential with escape rooms that we cannot ignore our responsibility to continue to improve the quality of our games.
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