A new escape room business is coming to downtown Augusta, and it has all your senses covered.
Source Code Escape Games is owned by Vinnie Ingallinera, who is excited to be opening up on Broad Street in downtown Augusta. But Ingallinera’s background makes Source Code more than just an average escape rooms business.
“I’m actually a military retiree, so I did 20 years and I learned a lot of cool tech stuff when I was in the Army,” he said. “Before I joined the Army, I was an art major. I wanted to figure out a way to put my tech and art together, and so I made escape rooms. Our escape rooms are crazy high-tech. They’re fully automated and put pretty much any smart home to shame.”
He plans to open Source Code Escape Games later this month, with two escape rooms ready to go and a third, more physically challenging one, still being worked on. The first two escape rooms will be called Asylum and Hacker’s Headquarters — and the rooms are more expansive than a single open room, allowing for up to 10 to 12 people to play at a time. Because Ingallinera had been building props and escape rooms for a while before deciding to open his own, he has had time to think up aspects that make it special — from the high-tech manipulation his team will have from the control room, to piping in scents that really immerse the player in the experience. For the Asylum escape room, for example, they will be piping in a mixture of a scent called Hospital with a little bit of scent called Mildew.
Ingallinera has been working on escape rooms and props under an Augusta-based business called Puzzle Props. He started Puzzle Props about a year and a half ago but had been building escape room props before that.
“It just kind of formed out of, I went to my first escape room while I was in the Army with a group of soldier buddies in D.C.; we did this escape room and it was awesome,” he said. “And we were like, ‘man you know what would’ve been cool’ — and that’s kind of our new phrase at the shop. If you ever hear that phrase, everybody pays attention because ‘you know what’d be cool if’ is kind of our motto. And then whatever comes after that is like, ‘ah, yeah, we’ve got to do that.’”
“So we actually pitched an idea to the guy who owned the place — ‘you know what’d be cool,’ and he was like, ‘yeah, you know somebody who can build that?’ and I was like ‘Yeah, I can,’ so I built my first prop in my garage. And then he told a friend, and then that guy ordered something from me, and the next thing you know, I’m getting orders in, and I was like, “I think I know what I want to do when I grow up.”
For anyone who’s never done an escape room before, it is a physical adventure game where players have an objective to complete in order to get out of the room in a certain time limit. Within the room are puzzles and clues and strategies that you and your teammates have to figure out in order to escape. At Source Code, the time limit is one hour. Each escape room has a different story line and theme. If a team gets stuck, employees are monitoring the game to provide clues and hints to help players get through the challenge.
Ingallinera touts the activity as a good way for businesses to have team-building days for its employees. The 7,900-square-foot space that houses Source Code Escape Games has other activities, too — such as individual virtual reality escape room games, meant for one person to complete within 15 minutes, as well as team-based virtual reality games that involve people working together to diffuse a virtual bomb in a game called “Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes.”
Also available for booking is the axe-throwing room. Ingallinera likens it to a dart-throwing league — there is a large, wooden board on the wall that looks like an oversize dart board, and players chuck axes and hope to stick them to it. Forest scents are piped into the room for a full experience. He described it as likely going to have a “hooligan bar atmosphere” in there.
“It was introduced to me by other escape room owners; it’s an emerging thing that came down from Canada,” he said. “I think there’s like 32 facilities in the country right now. There’s actually an axe-throwing league called the World Axe Throwing League, and the Broad Axe Throwing Room is a proud member of the WATL. We’ll probably be running a regional tournament here for qualification to the world championships.”
The axe-throwing room will allow up to 12 people, with two “axe-perts” who are there to coach people on technique. Basically, players will hold the axe with two hands out in front of them, pull it over the back of their head, swing it back over their head and release it to fly forward and stick to the wall.
“This event is equalized between men and women, because it’s not about strength, it’s about technique and inertia,” Ingallinera said.
Source Code Escape Games also will have a party room people can book for things such as birthday parties and corporate events. Catering and BYOB will be allowed in the party room. To keep people coming back, Ingallinera said he plans to rebuild the escape rooms into a new experience every 12 to 18 months
Source Code Escape Games is all about creating an immersive experience, from the lighting to the music to satisfying the tactile senses.
“We’re purposefully going over the top with these games, and we’re gonna push the boundaries of the escape room industry,” Ingallinera said. “That’s what’s going to set us over the top — large rooms with immersive feel. Well-written games where you play out the story, not just a series of ‘gotcha’ puzzles. And at the end of it, if you feel like you were a part of the story and you accomplished the mission that ends the story, either good, bad or indifferent, then we did our job here. And it’s really just about eliciting that emotion for the amount of time that you were here and making you forget that you were just on Broad Street next to Sole.”
Source Code Escape Games will open at 1025 Broad Street and is recommended for players age 13 and older. Call 762-222-8532 or visit sourcecodeescape.com. Visit them on Facebook at facebook.com/scgamemaster.