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Behind the scenes: Locks & Keys in Tilburg

As escapefans we're always interested in the story behind a room. Most of the enthusiastic owners, if time permits, love to tell you all about their rooms. This was no different with Bob and Errol of Locks & Keys in Tilburg. After playing Het Geheim van Schrobbelèr we were curious about their other escape rooms. De Bank and De Uitdaging van de Snip followed fast and didn't dissapoint, far from it. Aside from that they developed Expeditie Robinson for city beach Waterjump. This is an original variation on an escape room where you play outdoors. When we were looking for the first people to interview, you understand these gentlemen were high up on our list.

To start this off: Who are you and what do our visitors really need to know about you?

We're Bob and Errol of Locks & Keys escaperoom. Bob is really creative, he developed board games and games for Android and iOs before. Errol worked as an interior constructor for a long time and he's really technical. We both share a love for games.

An ideal combination to build escape rooms indeed. But board games and mobile games? Interesting! Which ones?
Sadly none of them actually came out. When we got to that point we fell in love with escape rooms ;-)

So when and how did that happen?
At the end of 2014 we played an escape room and fell in love with the concept right away. It didn't take long for us to decide to build our own escape room.

What inspires you when you're working on the concept of a room?
Lots of stuff! Stuff we love to play, like video-games and board games. Films we've seen and stuff we see around us. Pretty much everything we see and do inspires us.

It was our intention to develop a difficult room because we noticed there were a lot of escape room addicts who played ten rooms or more.
Your rooms always have something original: the chance to win actual money and the replayability of De Bank and the lack of a real timelimit in Het Geheim van Schrobbelèr. In Uitdaging van De Snip there are no number locks and almost no padlocks. Is that originality something you're looking for?
Yes, we always try to add something unique to our rooms. We try to innovate the escape room genre. This way we can offer an unique experience you can't get somewhere else. We always keep that in mind, it does have to fit within the concept of the room as well.

You also make escape rooms for others, like De Uitdaging van de Snip and Expeditie Robinson for Waterjump. Aren't you afraid you'll use your best ideas for others? How do you deal with that?
No, we've got loads of good ideas for many more rooms and puzzles. The escape rooms we build for others are developed specially for that location. For instance De Uitdaging van de Snip is completely compleet Snooker themed, which fits with the location Poolcenter 4Friends. Expeditie Robinson we developed for citybeach Waterjump which totally works for the island theme. This way we strengthen the location, the theme, the game and the experience.

Until now only four teams escaped from De Snip, is that more or less what you expected?
Indeed. It was our intention to develop a difficult room. It isn't called De Uitdaging van de Snip for nothing. We noticed there were a lot of escape room addicts that played ten rooms or more. We wanted to develop the best possible experience for them, but also for beginning escapers. That means you need to be intellectually challenged. Everyone that played the room understood the puzzles, but usually came up a couple of minutes short to solve all the puzzles.

That was the case for us as well. We were told it was a challenge when we were handed the flyer. You succeeded at that, for sure. So what are the futureplans for Locks & Keys? You were talking about a REAL scary room some time ago?
True, we're still working on that room. We hope to have it finished in September. For a scary room it's essential for the atmosphere to be perfect. Our goal is to make the room so scary people are too afraid to actually finish it. We know it's amibitious, but that makes it fun ;-)

We're curious how you're going to do that. The line between scary and inintentionally funny is pretty thin. But something totally diffrerent: everyone knows the fun parts about escape rooms. What about the less pleasant parts, are there any?
Not really. We both work hard and with passion on our escape rooms. We started Locks & Keys because we wanted to do something we love. And if you do something you love you'll always see it in the result. If I had to name something less pleasant it's the fact we don't have the time to guide all the teams ourselves. We need the time to keep developing new escape rooms.

We talked about it briefly: the huge amount of escape rooms. Why do people really need to play your rooms?
Because our rooms have something unique. We always develop rooms based upon these three pillars: puzzles, atmosphere and quality. The puzzles need to be fun, provide sufficient variety and they need to be challening. Aside from that all puzzles need to fit in with the theme and atmosphere of the room. The atmosphere needs to fit in with the theme. You should see that in the decorations and the music in a room. We'll go extremely far to get all those details right. And finally the quality needs to be good. We maintain our rooms regularly. Because every visitor should be able to have the same experience.

We see escape rooms getting more technical. This offers more possibilities, but also creates more challenges.

Extremely far for details? Now we're curious! Could you give an example?
Everything in the room is an example of that. We think about everything in the room and if it fits in with the experience. If I made you curious you should come play a room.

Which escape rooms would you recommend to our visitors?
That depends. Are you a beginning escaper? Then we recommend Het Geheim van Schrobbelèr. The lack of a real timelimit ensures you always get to finish the room. This is also Bob's favorite room. Are you more experience then we recommend De Bank, Errol's favorite room. Aside from that we both recommend De Uitdaging van de Snip. You'll be talking about that room for sure. And if the weather's right and you love to challenge your friends/co-workers/famiily? Then we'll recommend Expeditie Robinson.

And how about other escape rooms? What are your own favorites?
We didn't play many escape rooms ourselves. We did two before we started on our own escape rooms. The only moments I had the time to do an escape room after that was on vacation. And then I would recommend Chicken Banana in Barcelona. That's by far the best room I played.

Where do you think we're going with escape rooms in The Netherlands? Will the numbers keep rising like they're doing now? Will we be seeing some surprising developments? What kinda developments do you guys see?
We see escape rooms getting more technical. This offers more possibilities, but also creates more challenges. There's an escape room that works with the Occulus Rift (VR). I think it's difficitul to maintain the goal of an escape room with that. The idea comes from a video-game. The technicique should support the puzzles, but not be a goal itself.

Thanks a lot for your time! Would you like to add anything? The final words is yours.
We notice there are still a lot of people that never played an escape room yet. To them we we would love to say: Inform yourself on the quality of a room. This website is a good source for that. And if you're in doubt about playing one, just do it!

Mentioned escape rooms

Locks & Keys

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