What if you could be a hero in a video game in real life? What if the game puts you in a total lockdown and the only way to survive is by escaping?A new business in Reno called Break Through will give you exactly that experience. Reporter Luiza Vieira has the story.
RENO, NV – Imagine being locked in a room full of secrets, codes and puzzles and you have to figure out a way to escape in less than one hour.
How Everything Started
General Manager Kristian Kuharszky grew up playing these types of games in Budapest, Hungary where he was born. He came to Reno to play tennis for the University of Nevada, Reno. After graduating, Kuharszky decided to open up a business in Reno which gives you the same experience he had growing up.
Break Through is an escape game full of challenges and tricks. You can be an FBI agent, a detective, you can solve a mystery or you can even be locked inside a jail. The goal is to get out. Every object, wall and corner can have clues and hints that will help you escape in time.
Break Through is played inside a multi-room office suite located on Moana Lane which was opened this year. As you walk down the hallway, you pass the doors of the three escape rooms you can choose to play in. You begin your experience in the briefing room.
The Game Master
There, customers are given safety instructions as well as explanations about the game by the so called, game master.
The game master is a person who basically overlooks the game through the use of cameras and microphones installed around the room. The game master gives players some hints and answers questions when they are struggling with the game.
I joined Jonathan Kanzelmeyer, the game master of the day, in his tiny office to see how everything works.
“That was more of the blatant hints that I give.” said Kanzelmeyer while looking at the cameras. “If I can think of something subtler then that I will but they were a little, they should have that one opened up.”
Escaping the Room
As we watch through the cameras, we see three players trying to escape room number one called The Mask. The players work as detectives inside a serial killer’s room full of clues hidden inside drawers, some of them locked and inside or behind photographs. They have sixty minutes to collect all the information found to escape the room in time before the killer comes back.
One hour was not enough for Lisa Kramer and her husband to get out of the Mask room. I go with Kanzelmeyer inside the room to talk to the players who lost. Even though the game was challenging, they are happy with the experience.
“There were several several locks, a lot of locks. But it was creative, I had fun.” said Kramer. “I didn’t expect it to be so many numbers, and the black light. An hour was almost enough time.”
There are no limits of how many clues the game master is allowed to give but Jonathan says it’s all about the customers.
“We help people, we keep their attention in what it need to be focus on.” said Kanzelmeyer. “We find that the experience is actually better if they actually figure it out so we never tell them the answers. Unless, I don’t know, it’s by accident.”
The Escape Rooms
There are three rooms existing with different scenarios. There is a house of a serial killer, a crime scene and also a prison cell of an 1882’s Virginia City jail. All these different ideas come from the manager, Kuharszky, who says they pop up in his mind at any time or place.
“One time I was driving all day, I went to Sacramento and Bay area for locations.” said Kuharszky. “Just driving back (through) the mountains, just something (came) to me and I (got) so excited and I – ‘Woa, this would be so cool, and then I try to do it and see if it works or not.'”
Kuharszky is currently working on the fourth room that right now is just filled up with boxes.
A lot of work and testing goes into the building a room. According to Kuharszky, it takes up to three months until everything is up and running.
“Usually I have a little draft and then I think about the things I can do.” said Kuharszky while showing me a box he built. “Then I physically start building, then I realize stuff doesn’t work and then I test, so, it depends.”
Most of the things in the room are built by himself or with the help of friends besides one or two things.
What Happens Between Games
The business has gained five stars on every social media platform and it’s doing pretty well. They have an average of ten rooms booked on Saturdays. Between games, the game master has to reset the entire room, putting every single piece back in place. Kanzelmeyer uses the map room of the first escaping game, The Mask.
“Everything has its spot so we know exactly where everything is and we know exactly what they have at any time in the game.” – said Kanzelmeyer.
With so many objects and tools, people can get a little too excited about finding a way to escape the room and they can end up breaking a few things. After one of the teams gets out of the room, I follow Kanzelmeyer as he does the fixing.
“Well we had to fix that, we had to fix the car, because someone had to tinker it unscrewed one of the important screws on the car.” said Kanzelmeyer while reorganizing the room.” That’s something that you learn, is that people have creative interpretations about what they can do with some of the tools that you give them. You give them a screw driver, suddenly everything becomes a screw, right?” said Kanzelmeyer.”So it’s kinda like they feel the need to unscrew everything and that’s kinda of, it’s wrong.”
The Opinion of Clients
Everything in the room is designed to challenge players to think outside the box. Most teams do not make it out of their room, but that does not seem to stop them from coming back. After not escaping the room he picked the first time, Jess Orsei and his friends decided to come back again to play.
“We went one time and we just didn’t feel good about leaving it unfinished.” – said Orsei.
His friend, Ben Harvey, agrees.
“We needed to beat it, we could not handle ourselves after the first one.”
According to game master Kanzelmeyer, people don’t get mad if they don’t get out of the room.
“I’ve never had a team walking away feeling, you know, just angry and totally dissatisfied with the experience.” said Kanzelmeyer. “I’ve never seen that personally.”
Escaping Rooms as Team Building Activities
Besides customers who come to play just to have fun, Kuharszky says Break Through has also become a place of interest for big companies to bring their employees for team building activities.
“I mean we are still building our relationships, so it’s not like (only) one company and they just send everyone.” said Kuharszky. “I think the Net Medical brought 70 some people, I think that is almost all their company. They just brought through a couple of months of time but Renown sends a couple of teams, Microsoft has been sending a lot lately.” said Kuharszky. “We are trying to build on these ties and get to them. But it is good to have your four rooms, it is important to have (them) because they (companies) like to come with bigger groups, so with four rooms it can get 28 people at once.”
Taking a Step Further
Kuharszky is a novice in the business world, so he has enjoyed having this type of clientele. So far, he says opening Break Through has been a great experience but there is always room for improvement.
“Well I hope we can capitalize on the Reno market on all sides of business and the locals and find more tourists.” said Kuharszky. “So we can build it into the business that we really wanted to from the beginning on.”
“We are planning the future to hopefully go to other cities.” said Kuharszky. “We are working on these plans now and maybe opening up in a couple of other cities and then see from there.”
Break Through is located on 294 E. Moana Ln, Suite 13, 89502, Reno, Nevada.
They are open Monday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. and bookings can be made online through breakthroughreno.com