Breakout Tuscaloosa features puzzle roomsBy Cokie Thompson | 04/20/2015 11:46pm
The inventors of Breakout Tuscaloosa invited several friends to visit their facility Sunday afternoon. Participants were locked in one of three rooms and had to solve a series of puzzles to break out. CW | Layton Dudley
The space is located at 2310 14th Street behind the Jemison Home. Kim Parker, Lori White and Candace Kizziah started the business last October after visiting a similar facility in Nashville.
“As families, we all experienced an escape game together, and we knew this was something Tuscaloosa deserved,” owner Lori White said.
Breakout Tuscaloosa offers a series of interactive games that require teamwork to solve problems. Guests are monitored with cameras in every room, and they’re given a walkie talkie to ask for clues if they get stuck. Each group gets three clues with no penalty, but any more clues subtract time participants have left to solve the puzzle.
After the official opening on May 1, anyone can go to Breakout Tuscaloosa’s website and book an appointment for their office, for a birthday or just for the afternoon. The owners said they can help businesses that are having trouble with teamwork.
“We can also assess the team and give feedback on things we saw with that team,” Parker said.
Parker said they are working on a “room in a box” so groups who can’t make it out to their downtown location can still experience the process. In the space, only about eight people can work in a room at once, but more might be able to participate in the “room in box” style event.
In addition to spatial limitations, too many people working on a project can weaken the team building aspect, Parker said.
“You want them to gel, you don’t want them to work in pods,” Parker said. “The people who work in pods in these rooms never get out.”
Briana Kidd, a graduate student studying secondary education, was in the Trapp room, an animal-themed puzzle. Her group had to work together under the direction of a leader.
“It just took a lot of teamwork or it would have taken a lot longer,” Kidd said. “Somebody had to take the lead and say, ‘You organize this, you take care of this.’”
She said she could see her seventh graders work through the puzzles, but she would be more interested to bring in her fellow teachers and administrators. She said the facility brings something the community needs.
“It’s just good, clean fun, and it’s nice to have something like that in Tuscaloosa, especially near campus,” Kidd said.
Alan Page, a friend of the owners, was in the ‘Who Done It?’ room. He said teamwork was a big part of solving the puzzles. They had to talk to each other to figure out what they were supposed to do.
“You immediately have to get beyond not knowing each other and work together,” Page said. “I think that’s a valuable part of it.”
Page said the process forced him to take in all of the possibilities and focus on one thing at a time, something he needs help with at work.
“I’m kinda going in a thousand different directions all the time in my work day,” Page said. “I could see doing this regularly maybe to kinda train my mind to focus and to try and push through tasks instead of getting spread out on a lot of different tasks.”
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