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Arrived in Town!

People on the internet, meet SideQuests founders! SideQuests founders, meet the people of the wooorld!!! 

… Do I sound like a hockey game announcer yet? 😀

I’m Melanie, your journalist correspondent for this post! Well technically I’m the Ambassador at SideQuests; I look after organizing social media, SideQuests events, representing SideQuests to the outside world, and helping out anywhere else I’m needed.

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Ambassor Melanie
Ambassor Melanie — wait, typo! That sounds like a Pokémon.. Ambassador Melanie I mean!

I’m super excited to bring you an insider perspective to SideQuests. What is SideQuests you might ask? Check out our main page for more information!

Okay yeah, anybody can go to the website and read a bunch of generic FAQs. But what actually inspired SideQuests? Never done an escape room before and wondering what all the hype is about? Or maybe you’ve already done five other escape rooms and asking yourself, “Why choose SideQuests?”

Well, today we have Rebecca, Jonathan, and Chris with us.

Becky Avatar Jonny Avatar Chris Avatar

SideQuests guild members Chronicler Rebecca, Emissary Jonathan, and Artificer Chris have arrived in town!

Interview With the Founders

With many escape rooms, you may know of the owners; with SideQuests, we actually want to connect with you.

Melanie: So let’s introduce you to everybody on the internet here.

What part do you play in the company, and what can you tell us about yourselves? Yay, your typical icebreaker!

Rebecca, Jonathan, and Chris: ….

Chris: We’ll start with the brains behind the company here!

Rebecca: …… Hi, my name is Rebecca!

All: Yay!

Melanie: You mentioned in your first blog post that you’re kind of the founder of the company…

Rebecca: Well, I had the “dream”. I want a business where people come to have fun. I design the rooms, their themes and puzzles with that in mind I’m super enthusiastic about them and this whole Sidequests venture!

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Hats
Rebecca wears many hats — she also makes and coordinates props and decorations!

Melanie: Is there a reason why you’re really going for the “fun” aspect of games, as opposed to say, opening a bouncy castle company?

Rebecca: Yes! I like games, puzzles, and board gaming. My purpose is to take gaming / board gaming and bring it to life, to have people experience them in different ways. Especially people who might not have as much experience with games, taking “gaming” and turning it into a more welcoming environment for people to be in a story and interact with it.

I believe people should not be limited to sitting in movie theatres, but rather they should go out into the world and have experiences. I enjoy the experiences we have through interactions in games, and I want to bring that joy to other people.

People should not be limited to sitting in movie theatres, but rather they should go out into the world and have experiences. I enjoy the experiences we have through interactions in games, and I want to bring that joy to other people.

Melanie: That’s true, sometimes in Edmonton trying to think of “things” to do with friends can be difficult. I mean, there are definitely festivals, with some great places to drink and eat, but new experiences to explore can be hard to find. That sounds great!

Melanie: So who’s the next victim?

Jonathan: Hi, I’m Jonathan! I do all the random background “things” I run the website, background scripting needs (including “stuff and things”), basically building the invisible infrastructure that supports the company. I also do the “talky thing” making contact with various public relations, exchanging information, seeing what other people might need from us, and what we would find helpful from others. In summary, I’m the glue!

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Rapid Phone Response
Rebecca: So when Jonathan isn’t living on the computer he’s basically living on the phone!

WHYYY?!?!?

Melanie: So why SideQuests?

Jonathan: I’ve been a gamer since FOREVER. I like puzzles, designing systems, and deconstructing systems. I remember my sister and I would invent systems while playing with LEGO and cards. Process of making up and applying systems is great; you can go back and reflect, “Oh look, this is fun!” or “Oh no, that was terrible, let’s never do that again”.

Seeing the things you’ve built in action then refining them into something cool and that actually works is the fun bit.

Seeing the things you’ve built in action then refining them into something cool and that actually works is the fun bit.

Melanie: Putting “stuff” together to make it do “things”! Yes, these shall be my technical terms.

So Chris, what about you?

Chris: I’m an engineer by trade and inclination. I take care of things that go “zap”. I’m also the taskmaster / organizer, making sure everything is on schedule. Things that go “zap” and “snap”? I design how the electronics aspects of our rooms work. Why do we need electronics? One of the core aspects of SideQuests is, if it doesn’t make sense to have a lock there, we’re not putting a lock there!

After players have figured out a puzzle, they have to somehow let the game know they’ve solved it.  I mean, we could have a staff member stand there and ask, “Hey, what’s the solution to that puzzle?” but that’s not always feasible or even realistic to the scenario.  We could make the solution a 4-digit number and put in a padlock or bike lock, but… I don’t know about you, but I don’t think I’ve ever heard of padlocks in ancient ruins.

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Ruins
Pretty sure they didn’t have metal padlocks here. Chris makes things go zap to avoid time travel dimension mix-ups!

Melanie: Whaat, really?!

Chris: Exactly. We need to find other ways for people to enter their solution, other ways for the player interact with the room and story besides spinning dials. To do so, there’s a lot of electrical design involved along with wiring when the rooms come together.

Melanie: So the electric design combined with a different way to interact with the story and room. Why the SideQuests team?

Chris: I think that though there are many escape room locations in Edmonton already as the “next big thing”, there are always things that came be done a bit better. As Rebecca mentioned earlier, why SideQuests as opposed to opening a movie theatre? I’ve always enjoyed games more than movies – they’re interactive. I prefer games over pure abstract puzzles in games, we get to both play, solve, experience, and interact, while actually having a story and glue tying everything together.

Rebecca: Absolutely, I enjoy social games where people can interact with each other, make memories, and actually take part in them, rather than passively observing something happen!

I enjoy games where people can interact with each other, make memories, and actually take part in them.

Melanie: Sounds like encouraging motivations for opening an escape room.

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Doors
Which to choose?!

Melanie: You’ve all mentioned a few things about what makes SideQuests unique, including using locks only when they make sense, let’s say, if there’s bank safe. Why else should people choose SideQuests over other escape rooms?

Rebecca: Immersion. Definitely immersion is my biggest focus: it’s all about having the experience and adventure, on top of having the challenge of solving puzzles, escaping, and accomplishing the quest. Taking a break from reality, trying something different, and being part of that adventure in a first person way. Kind of like being your own actor, in your own movie with your friends and family!

Melanie: When I first heard of the SideQuests, it reminded me of those Choose Your Own Adventure books. You can read a book, which is great too, but rather than just reading and somebody else experiencing the adventure, you’re the one in it and having events happen to you.

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3D Glasses
Now upgrading from 3D, to total real-life immersion!

Rebecca: Exactly. There will not only be puzzles, but also the atmosphere: every puzzle is themed to it and the quest, so that you feel like you’re part of it. We’re streamlining the rooms so that nothing should break the feel of that immersion.

Every puzzle is themed to the atmosphere and the quest so that you feel like you’re part of it. Nothing should break the feel of that immersion.

Also part of the immersion factor, we offer different end results depending on decisions you make, what you choose to do, how much you accomplish in the room. Either way, there will be unique closure of some kind, something that you don’t typically see in other escape rooms.

Jonathan: Speaking from my game design background from education and experience, a lot of escape rooms feel adversarial, like needing to defeat the room. That’s really missing the point in my opinion. I’ve seen plenty of “BAHA evil genius room!!” where some things might not make sense, or the puzzles expect you to make Nicolas Cage a la National Treasure levels of logic to figure it out. But really, nobody “wins more” if people escape or don’t escape you win more if everybody has fun, and our goal as an escape room company is to facilitate that.

Rebecca: In fact, our rooms actually have unlimited hints; nobody gets stuck and people can keep on moving. It’s not just an “A+ or an F”.

Chris: Or even if people do get locked out or fail, it’s not just a *beepbeep* “Time’s up, too bad, you fail, play again!”. Well, what actually happened to us in the story? Maybe you find a treasure, or maybe you get eaten by zombies when the time runs out. We want to make it a cool experience regardless.

Melanie: Or some rooms we win and then we go, “So… that’s it?”. Or feel badly because we didn’t beat the room.  Having a staff member just walking into the room is like having your “Choose Your Own Adventure” book taken away right when you flip to an ending page. It’s great to still have the suspense building up and something to look forward to either way, a memory to create.

You can read a book, but rather than just reading, you’re the one in it and having events happen to you.

My Favourite Things

Melanie: Out of the escape rooms that already exist, what are your favorite aspects of them?

Chris: I like the rooms with good production quality that show a lot of thought put into the puzzles, props, and environment so that it all makes sense. Let’s say with a haunted theme, I’m not expecting a safe behind a gravestone, or a coffin locked with a padlock unless there’s a reasonable explanation for it of course!

Rebecca: I enjoy the ones with a storytelling progression: the more puzzles you solve, the more you learn about the story and the room, so that you feel you’re approaching an d working your way up towards a climax and ending.

Storylines2

Jonathan: There’s a structure for stories for a reason, you don’t just start with a huge opening and just expect to roll downhill from there. I mean, Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey works for a reason.

Melanie: That all definitely speaks to me too, the experience immersion and making sure the puzzles make sense. Nobody wants to see something very cool, and then suddenly be faced with 8 boxes to open. All of these elements contribute to the overall feel and experience of the room: if something isn’t quite right, it’s disorienting. Any other dislikes for escape rooms?

Rebecca: Not knowing whether you win or lose other than “the time running out”!

Jonathan: Puzzles that don’t work!

Chris: I remember one time we were robbed of the best time in one escape room by a wrong combination set into the lock!

Rebecca: Also puzzles that you can solve out of order by reasoning it out or being broken, and then end up skipping half the other puzzles you were supposed to do. Puzzle progression is very important so you don’t miss anything in the path you follow. You should always know what’s next to be solved.

Jonathan: I don’t like wandering around between puzzles, not being able to figure out which is next because the progression hasn’t led you to one.

Chris: In gamer terms, you should always have a quest in your quest log.

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Empty Quest Log
A quest log that looks like this is horrifying!!

Melanie: Yes! Rather than not knowing what to do, or being distracted by a bunch of side quests that end up going on forever, you have something to guide you back on track.

Jonathan: *points at Rebecca* “Save the world? Naaaah. Fill this gallery with photos? Okay!”

Rebecca: Oh Wind Waker… the camera distracts me every time!

Melanie: I can completely relate to that in some games I’ve played. You think, “Okay sure, it’s just a small detour, I’ll just take photos of this or help this one person out, plus get bonus free stuff in return”. But then the one person has friends who need something, and those friends also have friends. Then 8 hours later, you have 50 side quests in your quest log!

Chris: BUT it’s better than having NOTHING in your quest log because the game didn’t tell you where to go next.

Melanie: True. Overall, it sounds like the goals are a cohesive story, puzzles that make sense, and making memories with your team.

Jonathan: Regardless if you win or lose, you should have a ton of fun and come out with a memorable experience working together as a group.

Rebecca: You should feel accomplished of whether or not you escaped the room.

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Celebrate
Confetti is optional.

Stay on Target

Melanie: Do these goals also apply to corporate interests and potential teambuilding opportunities as well? Including bonding together through a memorable experience?

Jonathan: I believe so. I mean, you get to see your coworkers in a whole new light that’s pretty different from your usual job! Escape rooms are typically high pressure (and fun!) experiences where you’ll have unique opportunities to showcase skills and develop as a team in an immersive environment.

Rebecca: It’s an opportunity for communication and working on problem solving skills, but the other goal is the same as any non-corporate gathering: challenge the room, experience the adventure, explore the story, and approaching whichever resolution the team happens to journey towards. You’re still going to make those same memories regardless.

Chris: It should be fun for players regardless of intent. That’s one of our aims at SideQuests. If you want to go for challenging the room and achieving a high score, we’ve got you covered. If you’re there to experience the room and story, to live out the adventure, we’ve got you covered there too. And if you’re there because your boss forced you to go on a teambuilding activity, we’ve still got you covered for that too!

Melanie: So you’ll get to know and respect one another’s strengths and weaknesses, and work to mesh those strengths together. After the experience, you’ll have gained some insight into how you problem solve as a team, or maybe you’ll just wonder what ending other choices may have led to. So regardless of your intent, it sounds like a great opportunity for everybody to bond together over a shared experience and memory!

Just The Beginning

Thanks for giving us more insight into the inspirations, motivations, and goals for SideQuests. So in conclusion regardless of your intent, it sounds like a great opportunity for everybody to bond together over a shared experience and memory!

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Light Bulbs
Results of these light-bulb lighting inspirations coming soon near you!

Thank you for joining us, citizens of the interwebs! Now… what do you readers think? Do you have any questions for us? Ask in the blog comments section below, on Facebook, or Tweet us!

Also, what do you want to see in escape rooms? Stay tuned for our survey coming out in a couple weeks, along with possibly a bonus reward to go with it!

And of course… don’t forget to follow us on Facebook and Twitter. Keep an eye out for future blog posts: behind the scenes, how our rooms are built, quirky online finds, and more…
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Filed under: Quest Log

About the Author

Posted by

As SideQuests Ambassador aka Marketing Director and Communications, I look after anything that connects SideQuests with the outside world! Ongoing quests: Connecting with the public, planning SideQuests events, organizing social media, and Jill? of all trades (i.e. props, blog posts, reviewing our room designs and flow, etc.)!! Fun facts: Loves Portal, Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss, ballroom dancing, skiing, stargazing, and of course.. games! I love connecting with people — don't hesitate to do so via blog / Facebook / Twitter / IRL. See you around!

4 Comments

  1. Megan de Haan

    Loved this post. It’s great getting to know the team behind Sidequests and just what I can look forward to that makes this such a unique escape room experience. Really looking forward to when you will be opening up!

  2. Melanie Der

    Thanks for checking us out, Megan! We enjoy interacting with everybody and aim to deliver fantastic results. Note: EndingS, plural!)! Soon, soon….. stay tuned! 🙂

  3. Pingback: A Month (or Two) in Review | SideQuests Adventures Inc.

  4. Pingback: Note: HUGE SUCCESS. Or not?!?! | SideQuests Adventures Inc.

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