Halifax bar owner finds (great) escape: Real-life adventure game opens in north end

Published on July 8, 2014
Dimo Georgakakos, owner of Gus' Pub in Halifax and creator of The Great Escape real-life adventure game, poses for a photo with steampunk props from the experience on Monday.
Metro Halifax/Haley Ryan

HALIFAX - For the past nine months, the owner of Gus’ Pub has been playing hooky from the present and stepping back into 1917.

Dimo Georgakakos recently opened the first live adventure game east of Toronto in a green house on North Street next to Gus’, where groups of people are stuck in a room to work together on riddles and puzzles to solve The Great Escape.

“It’s more brainy than scary,” Georgakakos said Monday before showcasing a neon-green welcome room where participants learn the story of Cameron Claymore III, the grandson of an inventor in 1917 who “really” caused the Halifax Explosion and plans on unleashing the bomb again.

Georgakakos said the idea began last October when he read about “real escape” games becoming popular in Japan, and spreading to San Fransisco with many opening across North America just last year.

At first, Georgakakos said his friends and family had no idea what he wanted to create because it’s “so new,” but have come on board since he began working with local artists and prop makers to create a theatrical, steampunk experience.

“It’s very visually stimulating,” Georgakakos said, adding he’s seen four rooms from other cities and his stands “head and shoulders” above those.

“We have a chance to make the best one in the world, and that’s what we’re trying to do.”

A group of 10 or less can enter the room, and the game master provides guidance, Georgakakos said.

“This is something you can’t do at home, and the social aspect is a big deal because people have been stuck in front of the screen for 20 years and they’re dying to do something socially,” Georgakakos said.

A few friends could also pay the $20 fee and get matched with another group to work together.

“You do make connections,” Georgakakos said.  “The clock is ticking, so you have to help each other.”

Georgakakos said he would like to have three stories going at once, and is planning the next one to be about the Titanic.

The project is “something from the heart,” Georgakakos said, which also draws on his Dalhousie University science degree and theatre class experience.

“It just gave me a chance to work with creative people, be creative myself,” he said. “All I wanted to do was play hooky from everything else … and do this all the time. It was so much fun.”

Go to http://www.thegreatescape-hfx.com for details and to book a game.