Imagine being locked in a room with a handful of your closest friends and family members, tasked with solving a mystery in under 60 minutes. One mission, one mystery, one hour. Located on 480 Warfield Boulevard in Clarksville, Tennessee, the Covert Escape Games promise to thrill and immerse people of all ages through their several physically and mentally challenging games.
Retiring from the military in 2017, owner Brett Ashworth had gone on a family vacation to Gatlinburg. Little did he know, this vacation would prompt the beginning of the rest of his life. After a sporadic trip to an Escape Game, Ashworth knew he had witnessed something special.
“After I played my first game, I told myself this is what I wanted to do from here on out,” Ashworth said.
An escape room is an immersive adventure game in which players solve a series of puzzles using clues and hints paired with strategy to complete the missions they are faced with. Each escape room is given a set time limit to unveil secret plot hidden in each room.
“The industry is huge in Europe and Asia,” Ashworth said. “If you go to certain cities in Europe, take Prague for example, there are escape games in every corner.”
With such a large industry, demand for such an experience has no time to diminish as new people are exposed to the claustrophobic thrill ride every day. Nonetheless, existing fans of the experience need to stay interested so diversity in the industry is very important.
“I love escape games,” freshman music education major Graden Miller said. “Challenging my mind is very exciting. I’m looking forward to what [Covert Escape Games] has to offer. It sounds more intense.”
Adding the word “covert” to the name is only one small step Ashworth is taking to provide a new unique experience for the community. The Covert Escape Games has more individualities in store.
“For the most part, everyone in the industry seems to go with puzzles or clocks for their logos, I wanted to steer so far away from that,” Ashworth said. “I wanted to capture something that would pay tribute to the men and women who have served in the clandestine and military services. The guy [in the logo] has a standard issue weapon: military. He’s got a beard: special forces. The girl [in the logo] is more James Bond.”
Ashworth and his team plan to release one game on Valentine’s Day for Beta testing. The game is “Alice in Wonderland” themed and will be titled “Down the Rabbit Hole.” As per beta testing standards, prices will be significantly lowered to around $17 as opposed to the $25 pricing per person that will be set in March.
“The purpose of our Valentine’s Day opening is to essentially see where improvements can be made,” Ashworth said. “If the people don’t like it, they will stop coming.”
Creating an entertaining atmosphere for the community is at the utmost importance for the Cover Escape Games team.
Clarksville, Tennessee is growing and developing at such an alarming rate, and entertainment buildings often take the backseat to new neighborhood developments.
“There isn’t much interesting to do around except eat,” sophomore psychology major Alicia Morman said. “I’m very excited for another thing to do around here.”
With the focus being for the community, Ashworth is planning on doing all he can to give back.
In the future, there are hopes for an APSU student discount, teacher appreciation discount, military and first responder discounts and so on.
“I’m all for the community,” Ashworth said. “The community needs more options, and we’re here to satisfy that need.”
The Covert Escape Games building will offer a total of five original games with original storylines brainstormed by Ashworth and his team. Traction is already forming without even opening, with games booked every weekend throughout March. There is one game down the pipeline that Ashworth promises will blow all who enter, away.
“There is a game we are holding off on because it’s so expensive,” Ashworth said. “Once it’s up and running however, it’ll send a wave through the entire industry. It’s never been done before.”
The Covert Escape Games group have more in store for the Clarksville, Tennessee community.
Simply having the opportunity to impact the community in a positive light by bringing something near and dear to his heart to more people is all Ashworth could ask for.
“I’m just having so much fun. I’m backed by an incredible team,” Ashworth said.
He said work “doesn’t feel like work, […], and I can stay motivated to bring bigger and better things to Clarksville.”