The clock is ticking.
You frantically search for a clue in the small, locked room.
Anxiety sets in—you break out into a cold sweat.
You must escape.
Sounds like your worst nightmare, but in just the past five months it’s become one of the hottest new attractions in Nashville.
Located just four miles away from downtown and less than three miles away from Belmont’s campus, the Escape Game Nashville is set off the road in an ordinary-looking building.
But what happens inside the building is far from ordinary.
“You arrive with your group and depending on the room that you choose you may or may not be grouped with other people. Then, you’ll get an introduction from your game guide and you have 60 minutes to escape the room,” said Moriah Murrell, the customer experience manager and one of the founders of the Escape Game Nashville. “In the room, you’ll be solving clues, puzzles, logic problems and working together as a team to get out of the room.”
Moriah, 22, who graduated from Belmont this past spring with a major in public relations, and her husband Jonathan Murrell, 24, who graduated from Belmont in the spring of 2013 with a major in entrepreneurship, are two of the four co-owners and founders of the booming new business.
The Escape Game Nashville is the first of its kind in the South. Designed for small groups, it is a challenging task with a small completion rate.
“There’s a bit of disagreement on how real life escape games got started—the first concepts were likely digital. The concept first made the jump from the digital world to the physical world around 2007, most likely in Asia. Over the last several years, the games have appeared across Europe and Asia,” said Moriah. “My husband, my brother-in-law, and our third partner have played games around the world from this genre and we have fully designed original games with an American audience in mind.”
At the Escape Game Nashville, there are four different types of rooms to choose from. In each, players only have one hour to escape.
Classified, which has a 35 percent completion rate, is a high-stakes mission in which the team simulates working for an anti-terrorist organization.
The Heist, which has the smallest completion rate of 27 percent, is the most difficult room and involves stolen art.
The Underground Playground, which has a 46 percent completion rate, accommodates up to 12 players and is more physically challenging.
Lastly, the Nashville Escape Game, with a 37 percent completion rate, revolves around finding tickets to a concert before the time runs out. Due to its popularity, there are now two Nashville Escape Game rooms.
“People have loved it. We’ve gotten great, great feedback. There’s a very diverse group of people that like it. Our games work for families looking to have something to do, couples on a date night, bachelor parties, corporate groups doing a teambuilding thing and it’s been a major hit for the tourists,” said Moriah.
But why do people love the escape game so much with such a small completion rate?
“I think it’s just so different and it sort of energizes and stimulates you, it’s just a different form of entertainment,” said Moriah. “You know what you’re going to get when you go to see a movie. For some reason, people love the way that you have to use your brain, you have to work together as a team and you get to solve something.”
Belmont student Michele Picone, a music business major, played the Nashville Escape Game room in June.
“I absolutely loved it and would recommend it to anyone who loves a good scavenger hunt or needs a fun group activity. I am definitely going back when my dad comes to visit again,” said Picone. “I love the whole team work aspect. I thought it was really interesting how strangers had to work together to solve some insane hunt. I love things like this, even if we didn’t complete it in the 60 minutes.”
Another Belmont student, sophomore Noreen Prunier, a music business major, played the Heist.
“My favorite thing about it was the fact that you were working together, yet each person could focus on a certain puzzle and bring it back to the group. We escaped with two and half minutes left,” said Prunier.
Looking toward the future, the Escape Game Nashville has aggressive growth plans.
“We want to establish ourselves as the premier Escape Game brand, that’s part of why we chose the name ‘The Escape Game.’ That’s definitely our long-term goal,” said Moriah.
To book your escape, visit their website at http://nashvilleescapegame.com. But don’t wait too long.
The clock is ticking.
This article was written by Andie Rice.