Matthew Theunissen is a business reporter

Escape into brain teaser

Global game arrives offering freedom to puzzlers who can unlock the door.
It took Matthew Theunissen a little over an hour - and a lot of help - to solve the Kiwi Escape Game. Photo / Doug Sherring
It took Matthew Theunissen a little over an hour - and a lot of help - to solve the Kiwi Escape Game. Photo / Doug Sherring

It has a better storyline than Grand Theft Auto 5, is more interactive than a Wii and you don't need a console to play it.

Escapade: the Kiwi Escape Game has joined the global phenomenon of "live escape games" where participants are locked in a room and required to decipher clues and puzzles to escape.

The new central Auckland business aims to cater to corporate groups, stag and hen parties and other celebrations, providing an alternative to the traditional bowling alley or night at the pub.

The first room to open is modelled on the typical New Zealand bach and contains such classic Kiwi memorabilia as a beige couch and the Edmonds Cookery Book.

The session begins in the dark and players with torches have to solve brainteasers to open a series of locks and secret doors in one hour.

A Herald on Sunday reporter and photographer took longer than the allocated time and required plenty of help from staff, who watch your every move on camera and communicate via an in-built speaker system.

Our duo quickly became immersed in the game, down on hands and knees searching for clues and trying various combinations to open locks. There's a real sense of achievement when a lock clicks open after a challenging mental workout.

Escapade co-owner Jayne Lusk said the game was devised in collaboration with two Australian psychologists, who had travelled the world playing the increasingly popular escape games.

"The games are all about how people respond in certain situations. One's a music puzzle, some of them are more hands-on and there are others for people who are thinkers and like to write everything down," she said.

"It's really interesting to observe all the different team dynamics. Someone will say the answer but they'll be a really quiet person so the rest of the group will just ignore them."

The games are powerful training and development tools for businesses. "You can see how team dynamics play out, who's good at what. It helps teams identify people's strengths and weaknesses. But, ultimately, it's just great fun. And it's real-life fun rather than computer games."

Lusk became "addicted" to escape games while living in Melbourne.

People were "going nuts" for them in Australia, the US and in parts of Asia and she saw an opportunity to tap into the New Zealand market.

"I've seen what it's doing around the world. The ones in Melbourne you have to book a couple of months in advance [to play]."

A game costs $39 for one person or $35 each for groups of four or more. Students get a 25 per cent discount.

For more information see escapadenz.co.nz/lounge/.

- Herald on Sunday

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