If you combine the Color Run, an escape room, laser tag and Nickelodeon’s Double Dare, you might get an idea of what Beat the Bomb is.
Or, as founder Alex Patterson puts it, “How can you create a perfect team-building moment? Stand people in front of something that would explode, but in a fun way. It’s blasting people with a paint bomb. On Thanksgiving, I blasted my family!”
At the new teamwork experience now open in DUMBO, groups of up to six have 10 minutes in each of four rooms to complete challenges leading up to a “bomb” in the final room, which they have to “defuse” to keep from getting blasted with paint. Completing each challenge successfully adds more time to the bomb.
“Every escape room, all their puzzles really have you in your own head,” he says. “At Beat the Bomb, everyone is focused on the same thing. It’s not about [a solution] that will be in any one’s person brain, it’s something you all have to do at once — every game is meant to be focused on the interactions of the players.”
Patterson knows a thing or a dozen about creating what he calls “the ultimate hour of teamwork” after spending five years designing obstacles for Tough Mudder, the extreme race where participants must work together to clear obstacles.
Beat the Bomb’s games won’t get you dirty (until the end), but they will test your problem-solving skills: think forming patterns with your bodies on a laser grid and replicating a sequence of sounds. “You can’t really figure it out or not,” Patterson says. “The challenge is, ‘How many times can you do it in 10 minutes?’”
Because the games rely on sharing information and cooperation rather than trivia knowledge and logic puzzles, they’re good for anyone age 10 and up. The difficulty lies in the sequences getting longer and getting fewer hints to solve them.
“A school group will do 10 patterns and have fun,” he explains, “while a group of investment bankers who want to be super competitive will do 30 patterns, so they’ll get to the places where the game is really hard.”
Each successful attempt rewards five seconds on the bomb clock — and a new level of difficulty to keep players challenged. “You hear a lot of cursing,” he says. “You can time it, right when that next level loads, people go, ‘You motherf—ers.’”
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Players suit up in head-to-toe biohazard gear, and get a face shield before the final room. To be clear, this isn’t paintball — you won’t be left with welts, and Patterson has made the game accessible to anyone age 10 and up.
“People come in all shapes and sizes,” he says. “For example, the laser maze is not all crazy angles that you need to squeeze through.”
Patterson, a former tax lawyer who joined Tough Mudder after the 2008 financial crisis and picked up some game-making tips at NYU’s Integrated Telecommunications Program, and his team have been tweaking Beat the Bomb since last winter in a single room in Bushwick.
Though the game has only been running for a few weeks, they’re already building a second set of rooms to allow teams to compete against each other directly.
“It’s [part of] a trend these days of people wanting to take a break from Facebook and Netflix,” he says. “To put down their phones and actually be present with their friends (or colleagues) doing something totally unique and memorable.”
Beat the Bomb is now open at 247 Water St., Suite 106 in Brooklyn, from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily. Games start every 15 minutes; tickets are $49 per person.