Created by game enthusiasts, for game enthusiasts. Owners Luke and Madison Rhoades come from a theatre and haunt background and found escape rooms to be the perfect backbone for their #1 rated company- Cross Roads Escape Games. Celebrating their 2nd year in business, here is the story of the creators and designers of Cross Roads and how it all came to be.
I graduated the University of Southern California with a B.A. in Fine Art and a Theatre minor. I designed and painted sets all around Los Angeles and was the lead scenic painter for The Queen Mary’s Dark Harbor for 3 wonderful years. Luke, my husband, graduated Vanguard University of Southern California with a B.A. in Theatre. He was working as the Master Carpenter at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in Hollywood. I would often get set design jobs and hire Luke as my technical director and carpenter for almost all of my sets. We were a great tag team duo. I would design it, he would build it, and then I would paint it.
THE FIRST ESCAPE ROOM
On Oct. 31st 2014, we played our first escape room. We had no idea what we were getting into. I thought I bought tickets for a haunted house, so we were completely shocked when we found out that they were going to put us in a room with 8 other strangers and lock the door. Our group did absolutely terrible. It was chaos trying to get 10 people on the same page, but that was part of the fun. I remember the time being about half way up when I realized we have not opened a single key lock. I yelled at the group, “How have we not found a single key?!?!” The girl right next to me goes, “Oh! I found a few keys!” and starts to remove about 5-10 keys from her pocket that she decided to put there for safe keeping (and not use?).
Afterwards our game master comes in with a look of disappointment and tells us that we only made it about 60% of the way. It didn’t matter to us if we won or lost or how far we got, the experience was unlike anything we have ever done and we were hooked. The idea for The Hex Room came later that same night.
We decided to take a chance. We quit our jobs and used all the savings we have worked 10 years to save up for our future house. It was one of those scenarios where we would always live a life of ‘what if’ if we didn’t give it a shot. And what better time to try and fail then when you are young? So we did. We found a location in Anaheim, California, battled the city for permits, and put ourselves in a hole of loans and credit card dept (we found out quickly the savings we had was not enough). With the help of some amazing family and friends, Cross Roads Escape Games opened one year later.
Cross Roads… get it? Luke and Madison Rhoades… ok good.
We wanted to create something that felt so real, you forgot it was a game. Imagine being transported to a new world where you can go anywhere and touch anything you want? To desperately try to find clues to help unlock the secrets to your escape? All our games are designed by us and built from the ground up. Not only is the production value outstanding, even the game design is different. As huge horror fans, we would always watch movies and say something along the lines of, “If that was me, I would have never run up the stairs!” or, “If I was in that situation, I would have totally survived.” Now with this new immersive theatre at our fingertips, we decided to create just that: a real-life horror movie scenario where people can find out if they would actually live or die in a horror film.
CREATING THE HEX ROOM
We love games. Board games, card games, video games, and now escape games. Once we were hooked on escape games we played every one that was available to us. Playing escape rooms was a great learning experience. We saw what we liked, and what we didn’t like. Our biggest issue was that no matter where we went, no matter what the “mission” was, the game was the same. We knew we had to change that up with ours.
Unlike traditional escape rooms, The Hex Room takes immersion to the next step and makes players live out a real-life horror movie. Before your game begins, each player takes a quiz to determine which stereotypical horror movie victim they are. You can be cast as the Jock, Rebel, Prom Queen, Virgin, Nerd, or Detective. Once in costume, players are place in a room by themselves. It is their goal to overcome their individual challenges and still work together as a team, although physically divided. If they are successful, they can rejoin their friends and work on escaping. If not, they can be left behind to die.
CREATING THE FUN HOUSE
The Hex Room became a revolutionary game, but maybe a bit too advanced for its time. When we opened, Escape Rooms were still such a new concept, only a handful of people knew what they were, even fewer played one before. People loved The Hex Room, but we were aware that it was a bit overwhelming to a new player, so we also created The Fun House.
The Fun House is the necessary introductory that people needed to escape rooms. People were together for the experience instead of divided at the start. If someone felt uncomfortable doing something “scary”, then we had The Fun House to offer instead. Although the game play is more of a traditional escape room, we still had a lot of new ideas to offer. The game became self aware with lots of fun tricks and jokes along the way, not to mention the amazing Zoltar. Have you met him yet?
We are determined to always bring the next level of interactive entertainment and have many more ideas up our sleeves. We are very excited for our 3rd full-length game, The Psych Ward, coming this year. It has been a long time in the making, but will be well worth it. The experience really shows our theatrical background with a lot of board game influence. The Psych Ward is not an escape room, it’s the future of immersive entertainment.
CEO and Co-owner
Cross Roads Escape Games