Last week, New York Film Academy (NYFA) Los Angeles Director of Media Lab Matthew Sheehan took a group of NYFA Game Design postgraduate students out for a heck of a final: the one hour to escape challenge from Slaughterhouse at the Escape Hotel in Hollywood. The stakes: solve the puzzle or pay the ultimate price — no, not a failing grade, just the pain of defeat.
For the uninitiated, an escape room is a little bit theater, a little bit puzzle, and a whole lot adventure. Groups of anywhere between two to eight, whether coworkers, families, friends, or even couples, are placed into a themed room filled with puzzles and surprises, and have one hour to solve the clues to find their way out. Escape rooms are amazing fun and they are all over the place, but nobody is doing them like the Escape Hotel in Hollywood.
A soon as you enter the Escape Hotel in Hollywood, you know you are about to go on an adventure. Going into the hotel is like stepping into a story line. The lighting, the sound, and the costumed employees of the hotel all set the stage.
When the NYFA group talked over the choice of which of the rooms we could go through with a macabre bellhop, MFA student Fabio Ribak’s face lit up when we were told, “You start the Slaughterhouse room blindfolded and handcuffed to the floor.” Challenge accepted!
In the end, we did not make it out. But it was okay, as the room was so much fun. The teamwork, the panic, and the discoveries were worth every second of it. These rooms are more than padlocks and puzzles; they are stories, little movies, games come to life, with you in the center. For a group of students who had recently completed story-focused visual and performing arts training, it was the perfect evening.
Escape Hotel co-creator Ivan Leon sat down with us afterward. Ivan is also a NYFA alum, who after completing his education went to work starting the Escape Hotel with some of his classmates.
“It’s what’s next,” he told us. “It’s combining every form of media arts, theater, and games, in a way no one else is doing, and we wanted to make a big commitment, to be on top.”
If you want to see it, you will have to come up to the Escape Hotel in Hollywood and put your blindfold on. If you want to make friends with the next Ivan Leon, you should come over to the New York Film Academy.