Two creative young Hamilton business owners have moved quickly to navigate through the COVID-19 pandemic.
Hamilton escape room operator Escapist has launched an online offering in the face of the level 4 lockdown.
The online escape room is an audiovisual experience delivered via video conferencing tool and each session is hosted by a Game Master, live in real time.
It was adapted from an episode of Escape This Podcast. “We perfected it and added our own twist to it so that it is suitable as a game delivered through Skype,” says Pam Ariestia, who co-founded Escapist with her partner Geoff Carr.
“Most importantly we made our own illustration so that online players can have visual aids while playing the game.”
She says they have had huge uptake, with a launch post on Facebook reaching 11,000 people organically.
They hosted 11 sessions on their opening weekend, with further sessions booked during the week.
“With this online offering, we are able to reach more people outside our physical boundaries. This means we can re-engage with our customers who have moved out of Hamilton or enable them to connect with their family in other parts of New Zealand and the world,” she said.
“Three out of the 11 groups booked last weekend were from out of Hamilton. We also have had an inquiry from as far as The Netherlands.”
Each session earns less because they charge per bubble, rather than per person, but Ariestia said the offering is broadening their market.
“We can now appeal to people with interest in table top role playing (which is massive) but who are not necessarily escape room fanatics.”
The plan is to continue to offer the experience long term. “This type of offering (a mix between escape room and table top role playing) has been on the talks for a long time as Scott, one of our staff member, plays Dungeons and Dragons and is an excellent Game Master.
“He has pitched this idea multiple times, but we were not convinced that there could be a market. However, with the lockdown happening, people are keen to give different kinds of entertainment a go and are more comfortable with video conferencing tools, so the timing is now perfect for us.”