INTERVIEW – Albertina Chu of Puzzle Workshop – ESCAPE ROOM

Please introduce yourself 

Hi, I’m Albertina (Alby) Chu, and I’m a co-owner at Puzzle Workshop along with three other wonderful, enthusiastic partners. Given that my partners and I work part-time on the escape room, none of us have just a single job to play. My role ranges from designing and play testing puzzles, supervising room construction work, chatting with players after their experience, to cleaning the office bathroom after a busy day.

Why did you decide to get involved in the escape room industry?

After completing dozens of entertaining escape rooms in San Francisco, Las Vegas, and Europe, I was hooked on escape rooms, and fortunate enough to connect with three other partners who shared a passion for solving and making escape rooms and games.

What makes your room unique?

Two of our partners are professional video game designers with over two decades making some of the most popular games in the world, so we have a very strong emphasis on puzzle design. Every puzzle we create is integrated into the whole of the room, and no puzzle should feel out of place. We strive to create layered, intricate, yet satisfying puzzles whether this be your first escape room or 500th.

What do you think is the most important part of an escape room design? 

I think full immersion into the escape room experience is the most important part of the overall design of a room. Puzzles should feel connected to the theme, and the ambiance of the room should be directly tied to the story we are trying to tell. Given our location in an office park near John Wayne Airport, our goal is to create an environment so immersive that you forget you’re in an office building and have been transported to the study of an Illuminati member. The storytelling is critical to help you get acclimated to what otherwise feels like an artificial situation. Some of our favorite feedback involves people telling us that it feels like they have truly stepped into a new world when they enter our escape room.

Please share with us a fun story that has happened with your company.

One thing we love about our puzzles is the fact that anyone, truly anyone, can participate and have fun. We had back-to-back groups one day, with the first group being a bunch of escape room pros who had done probably more than 100 escape rooms combined in their lives. This was followed by a group of 14-year old kids who were doing their first ever escape room as part of a birthday party. Without getting too much into the specifics, there was a particular puzzle in our room that requires a bit of creative thinking. And these puzzle room pros struggled with it for awhile. Meanwhile, just an hour later, the 14-year old kids figured it out almost immediately! That right there made me realize that we had built a great puzzle for all ages.

What advice do you have for players?

Don’t be afraid to try lots of different approaches when solving puzzles! Depending on the puzzle, there may be some precautions to prevent you from brute-forcing a solution. If you find that you’re stuck, pull in a team member or two, explain to them your thinking, and ask them to come up with an alternate suggestion. There’s a reason why escape rooms are such popular team-building activities; they show how the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

Anything else you’d like to share?

We’d love for you to come visit us (www.puzzleworkshop.com) in Orange County – we hope to continue making escape rooms for years to come and rely on escape room enthusiasts such as yourself to keep spreading the word about how awesome escape rooms are!

 

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