Please introduce yourself.
Hello! My name is Madison Rhoades. My husband, Luke, and I own Cross Roads Escape Games (Get it? Rhoades… Roads…? Well, we thought it was cool). I am the designer and scenic painter. He builds and makes my crazy ideas come to life.
I love puns! I agree that it’s cool.
Why did you decide to get involved in the escape room industry?
My husband and I love theatre. We did it in high school and college. I got my degree in set design & scenic painting at USC. His was in Scenic Carpentry at Vanguard University. We loved it, but honestly, we hated working with actors. Almost always we had some diva of the show tell us how to do our job. We decided that theatre would be perfect if it didn’t have any actors, but it also seemed kinda impossible. A few years later we played The Basement (back when it very first opened). We thought we were going to a haunted house, boy were we wrong! It was actually our first ever escape game, us 2 with 10 strangers. Needless to say, it was a hot mess, but SO MUCH FUN! We talked about it for months afterwards. Almost immediately we had our idea for The Hex Room and thats when we found out that we could actually make theatre without any actors. It was perfect.
What makes your rooms unique?
All of our sets are completely custom built. We have played quite a few escape games and found them to usually be inside prebuilt office buildings. We made sure to find a space with a huge warehouse so we could make our games exactly the way we wanted, built from the ground up.
Our Hex Room game is super unique. The story is a horror movie loving mad man wants to recreate a horror movie using you as his cast. What makes it super cool is that we have everyone fill out a questionnaire beforehand to find out which cliche horror movie victim they are: Virgin, Rebel, Prom Queen, Jock, Detective, or Nerd. We give you costume pieces so you truly become your character and then we put everyone in a room by themselves. This makes it so everyone has to participate and it also makes it replayable! You can come back and play The Hex Room as a different character and have a completely new experience. Even though you are apart from your group you do still have to work together as a team by relying information and sending objects from room to room to help your team get out, and hopefully they do the same for you.
The Fun House is the exact opposite of The Hex Room. This game is more silly and whimsical. The set is seriously beautiful. Its like stepping into a circus version of Alice in Wonderland. In this game you have to ask Zoltar for hints, who is a very sassy painting on the wall. It’s probably the best part of the game.
Hex is absolutely replayable. I’ve played it twice. It was fun and different both times.
What do you think is the most important part of an escape room design? (Story, puzzles, decor, etc.)
That’s hard to answer. I think all of them play a key point in an overall great game. For us, we definitely pay a lot of attention to detail when it comes to our set. We really believe an immersive atmosphere is very important. Everything from set, lighting, and sound can help tell a story on its own. Our puzzles are also custom built and completely from our own heads, so its something new that players have not seen before. I think what is very important that your puzzles should work with your theme and story. I personally hate it when I play a game that is suppose to take place in a dungeon but I am solving a puzzle that has to do with the periodic table on the wall… or a sudoku puzzle…? There needs to be a reason why you are solving these puzzles and why they are there in the space. I really think that gets overlooked a lot. Cohesiveness, I guess, is what I think is the most important.
Please share with us a fun story that has happened with your company.
I have SO many great stories of people getting scared in The Hex Room, but I don’t want to give away any of the fun surprises. Lets just say some people have screamed, “I think I just peed myself!”
What advice do you have for players?
“The key to escape is to communicate.” This is a sign we have on our wall that we stress to our players before their game and its remarkable how many people come out saying, “wow, you were right, communication is everything in this game!” Use your teammates strengths and talk things out. It’s surprising how people will clearly see the answer after just saying what they are working on out loud.
Anything else you’d like to share?
I am always looking for something new and different and without giving too much away Cross Roads does have some really great innovative ideas for the future with our 3rd game hopefully opening up this October! Our games are also constantly changing. We grow bored of puzzles or maybe have a new idea. I would say both of our games go through major changes at least once a month. We also have some big plans for The Hex Room for the Halloween season to make it really really scary 😉
Sounds like I’ll have to come back in October to play Hex a third time. I love scary!!!