One Patterson Park entrepreneur is hoping to build community and create an immersive experience within the city — by locking you and your friends in a room.
Baltimaze Escape Rooms, a game venue co-founded by Valerie Moye, will open its doors downtown April 1. The latest local venue to explore the growing escape room trend, Baltimaze will lock its visitors in 400- to 500-square-foot rooms for an hour and challenge them to find their way out using clues.
"For the competitive people in the crowd, they want to make it on the leaderboard, so it's racing the clock to see how quickly they can escape," Moye said. "For others, it's just sort of 'Can we escape at all?'"
The family spent an hour this month at Escape This Live in Catonsville, the first "escape room" concept to open in the Baltimore area in 2014. Popular in Asia, Europe, and on the West Coast, the concept is now growing in Maryland.
Located at 31 Light St.— just blocks from the Inner Harbor, Baltimaze will feature four unique game rooms with three themes to start: "The Study" will challenge participants to escape a lavish personal study; "The Gallery" is set in an art gallery; and "Ex Machina" will be a post-modern, industrial-themed game.
Games will rotate every six months, Moye said, giving visitors time to master the rooms before taking on new challenges.
The 32-year-old moved to Baltimore from Washington six months ago, and quit her job as a consultant for a software company to open Baltimaze. Moye has partnered with the Rhode Island-based small business incubator Updraft Ventures, which manages a similar escape room in Providence, R.I.
Baltimaze, however, will be unique to the Mid-Atlantic region, Moye said. She hopes that the new escape room will help "bring more lively events to the downtown core."
"I really like the city. I like the idea of providing a new sort of very social, entertainment outlet for the community and attracting more people into the city," Moye said.
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While preparing for the opening, Baltimaze will host a launch party at Alexander's Tavern in Fells Point on March 16; attendees can purchase discounted tickets before the April grand opening. (Standard tickets will cost $29, with discounts for students and military.)
Moye is also looking to hire staff to act as escape room operators, or game masters — "the heart and soul of the operation."
"They really set up the player experience and give a [brief] of what the plot is. ... They're making sure that they're progressing throughout the game, and giving clues when they're stuck," Moye said.
Operators will also perform administrative tasks and will have the opportunity to contribute creative ideas to improve the game site and themes. People with experience in interior or set design, the arts and theater are encouraged to apply, Moye said.
Baltimaze Escape Rooms will host a launch party March 16 at Alexander's Tavern in Fells Point, featuring discounts on tickets and free drinks for the first 50 attendees. RSVP encouraged. 6 p.m.-10 p.m. 710 S. Broadway. baltimazeescape.com.