After two years of building escape rooms for other people, Vinnie Ingallinera has decided to take the plunge into his own puzzle-themed entertainment center in downtown Augusta.
And a big plunge it is.
The more than 7,600-square-foot office building at 1025 Broad St. that he’s converting into Source Code Escape Games will house space for parties and corporate events, two virtual-reality studios and four 600-square-foot escape rooms.
“By escape room standards, these are giant,” said Ingallinera, a Fort Gordon retiree who has been designing and building escape rooms and equipment through a separate business venture, Puzzle Props Inc.
The company’s escape room props have been used by operators such as Atlanta-based Mastermind Escape Games, which last year opened the area’s first escape room in Martinez. Escape rooms, a fairly recent trend in family entertainment, give players a chance to “escape” from puzzle rooms in a race-against-the-clock using only their wits, some basic clues and teamwork.
Ingallinera said he has long been interested in building an escape room in Augusta but had been waiting for “the right opportunity and the right property” before moving forward. He said the former offices of Osbon Medical System fit the bill because it had an open floor plan and a great location, sharing the same block as Metro Coffee House, Whiskey Bar Kitchen and Sole Augusta.
He said he plans to open Source Code Escape Games in late summer with two of the four rooms completed, one of which will be a “hacker” themed room, a nod to his previous career as a cyber warrant officer. Ingallinera, a self-described “geek” who has the theme of the zombie TV show The Walking Dead as his ringtone, said the horror-suspense themed room will have a “tap out button” enabling players to immediately stop the game if the action gets too intense.
“We want people to escape,” Ingallinera said. “What we’re not building here is four rooms of stump the chump.”
With each room having its own dedicated command-and-control center, he anticipates having as many as six full-time employees. The business would be open for events Wednesday through Saturday and by appointment only for private parties and corporate groups on Mondays and Tuesdays.
“Everybody we’ve talked to is just crazy excited about this coming to town,” he said.
Reach Damon Cline at (706) 823-3352 or firstname.lastname@example.org.