INTERVIEW – Jason Richard of Steal and Escape – ESCAPE ROOM

Please introduce yourself.

I’m Jason Richard and own Steal and Escape with my wife Marketa in San Diego, California. We have been open for about four months and current have one room “Mysterious Stranger” with a second room on the way.

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

Marketa and I were in Budapest on vacation and saw a small flyer that described an escape game and as we toured the city we found rooms everywhere. We decided to give one a try and 20 minutes into our first game I knew I was going to open one (The first room we did is still the best game we played, unfortunately we can’t remember its name).

What makes Steal and Escape different from other escape games?

We have two areas that make us different from other rooms. To start, I grew up opening anything I could get my hands on, from old stereos to locks to vehicles. I needed to understand the mechanics and electronics of everything, our games are designed with this mindset. Our puzzles are less about math and riddles and more about using objects and tools to find answers. Second, while most rooms ask the players to escape, our players start by figuring out how to get into the room and then escaping after the objective is met.

What’s it like for you watching players play your game?

Having taught teamwork, leadership and communication for three years, I appreciate a group that works together. When a person finds a clue or solves a puzzle and tells everyone what they accomplished, I get excited. I also love ingenuity. I rarely stop a group from solving a puzzle in a way that was not intended. Although there should only be one way to solve it, it’s awesome to see people think in a way that is so much different than my own thought process.

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

Puzzles that are designed for different mindsets. When I do a room, I bring a crew that thinks different from one another. I like puzzles that make me ask another person to “take a look” because I have no idea where to begin. It gives everyone a chance to shine and shows that everyone playing has helped in completing the objective.

What advice do you have for players?

Listen to the ideas from all members of your team. We frequently see someone with the solution ignored because their idea seems far-fetched. Your group has 60 minutes to solve the puzzle, it doesn’t hurt try everyone’s ideas.

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