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Trinidad’s Gaming Future in good hands

Published: 
Sunday, October 15, 2017

Since its commercial birth in the 1950’s as a technological oddity at a science fair, gaming has blossomed into one of the most profitable entertainment industries in the world.

Although the technology boom revolutionised the industry and opened the doors to a new generation of gamers, if the changes that have occurred over the last century are anything to go by, it appears that gaming in 2025 will be almost unrecognisable to how it is today.

Seeking to capitalise on the changing landscape, David and Cherry-Ann Douglas finally decided the time was right “after two years of just talking about it,” to offer a new gaming experience for local enthusiasts.

The Canadian-born David described The Gaming Future as an immersive and interactive venture which will engage the hearts and minds of persons from as young as five to those as old as 95.

Speaking from his place of business at 98 Main Road, Chaguanas, David said the ultimate goal was to develop a person’s critical thinking capacity and sharpen their mental capabilities as they race against the clock to solve riddles and puzzles and decipher clues and brain-teasers.

The Gaming Future boasts two adult escape rooms called the Hangover and Time Travel Lab, and two child-friendly escape rooms called Imagination and Detention.

The experience promises to deliver an opportunity for family, friends and co-workers to spend quality time together as they work to “get out” from a locked room.

David said however, they had modified the local version in order to allay the fears of participants and remove their apprehension and anxiety.

Between two to six persons are supposed to be locked in a room, with 60 minutes to solve a variety of challenges in order to escape.

He said, “You are supposed to be locked in a room but we don’t lock persons in as Trinidad isn’t conducive for locking people in a room so theoretically, we just shut the door.”

As one half of the brains behind the operation, the 48-year-old who previously worked as a paramedic, said they also used walkie-talkies to communicate with the participants as they track their progress on a “check list” and spur them on to the finish.

Parents to four kids aged nine, eight and twins who are celebrating their sixth birthday today (Oct 15), the game masters predicted, “We believe this is where the future of the gaming industry is headed.”

According to David, they have already recorded a 50 per cent success rate among participants who have been able to solve at least ten out of the 15 clues in each room in order to escape.

He added they were constantly “tweaking” the gaming process as they went along.

“We want participants to work for the win but we don’t want it to be so challenging that everybody is unsuccessful,” he said.

David, 40, focused on the benefits to be derived from the overall experience as he pointed out, “There’s really no where to go that allows your child to think. Everywhere you go, they can enjoy activities but it doesn’t present a mental challenge nor does it get them to use their brain as many times, it is mindless.”

He went on, “This way, they use their brain instead of just sitting in front the television or IPad and cell-phone.”

A former director in the Chaguanas Business Chamber, David said he came to T&T in 2005 to set up an ambulance business.

However, after courting his wife, who is a former Chef, he said they began exploring various business ideas together.

He admitted, “The local market is certainly a challenge,” but the two are optimistic that as time progresses, their business will continue to flourish.

David said, “We believe this is something T&T will want when they understand what it is a bit better.”

Although there is no grand prize to be won at the end of the funventure, Cherry-Ann said the gamers get a photo-finish along with a healthy dose of personal satisfaction.

She laughed, “This is not about a prize. It is about helping persons to appreciate each other, rely on each other and to learn to trust each other.”

She said companies were also being encouraged to use the exercise to help foster a greater sense of team-work and camaraderie among workers.

Cherry-Ann said it was also an excellent tool which could be used to determine a person’s leadership capabilities.

Looking ahead to the future, the two are hoping to expand their Chaguanas outfit but also establish a branch in south as they seek to capture more of the local market.

An escape room is a physical adventure game in which players are required to solve a series of puzzles using clues, hints and strategies to complete the objectives at hand.

Players are given a set time limit to unveil the secret plot which is hidden within the rooms.

It was inspired by “escape-the-room” style video games set in a variety of fictional locations such as prison cells, dungeons and space stations. Escape rooms became popular in the United States, UK, Canada, Israel, Japan, Taiwan, and mainland China in the 2010’s.

Permanent escape rooms in fixed locations were first opened in Asia and followed later in North America, Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Russia and South America.

As of July 2015, there were over 2,800 escape room venues worldwide.