Breakout Games provide strategy adventures through escape rooms

The life-sized escape challenges are located near Sears at The Parks Mall

  • The Kidnapping room at Breakout Games of Arlington makes players rely on their own wits to escape a kidnapper's lair. (Photo: Jason Waite/Arlington Voice)
    The Kidnapping room at Breakout Games of Arlington makes players rely on their own wits to escape a kidnapper's lair. (Photo: Jason Waite/Arlington Voice)
  • Breakout Games of Arlington, a series of role-playing escape challenges, is located in the Sears section of The Parks Mall. (Photo: Jason Waite/Arlington Voice)
    Breakout Games of Arlington, a series of role-playing escape challenges, is located in the Sears section of The Parks Mall. (Photo: Jason Waite/Arlington Voice)
  • Operation Casino takes place in a room set up like a real Las Vegas casino. (Photo: Jason Waite/Arlington Voice)
    Operation Casino takes place in a room set up like a real Las Vegas casino. (Photo: Jason Waite/Arlington Voice)
  • A hallway leads players to the various game and challenge rooms at Breakout Games. (Photo: Jason Waite/Arlington Voice)
    A hallway leads players to the various game and challenge rooms at Breakout Games. (Photo: Jason Waite/Arlington Voice)
  • Hostage puts the players on a hijacked airplane, handcuffed to other passengers. (Photo: Jason Waite/Arlington Voice)
    Hostage puts the players on a hijacked airplane, handcuffed to other passengers. (Photo: Jason Waite/Arlington Voice)
  • The games are all overseen in a special Master Control room. (Photo: Jason Waite/Arlington Voice)
    The games are all overseen in a special Master Control room. (Photo: Jason Waite/Arlington Voice)
Keven Costlow

In the age of escapism, people are always looking for some excitement in their lives.

For Mike Hilton, that search for thrills is right up his alley.

Hilton is the general manager of Breakout Games of Arlington, which is tucked away in the Sears wing of The Parks Mall.

The company features escape room-styled strategy games, which usually are played by groups of friends looking for fun, or by companies as a team-building exercise.

“A lot of people come here to have fun,” Hilton said. “But the games are tough, and a lot harder than they realize. About 70 percent of our game players are private groups, and about 30 percent from companies.”

Mike Hilton is the General Manager of Breakout Games of Arlington. (Photo: Jason Waite/Arlington Voice)

The role-playing games involve a mystery that must be solved, and a predicament that must be overcome. All of this must be accomplished in 60 minutes. It’s a real test of the ingenuity and problem-solving abilities of the players.

Hilton has been with the company for two years, and during that time has worked in Lexington, Ky., Orange Beach, Ala., Plano, and last March was assigned to Arlington. He is also a regional manager for the company, responsible for the Minneapolis, Des Moines, Oklahoma City and Milwaukee stores.

Currently, there are five games played in the rooms, with teams of roughly eight players each. Each player pays an entrance fee of $26.99 to play.

The games are called Operation Casino, Island Escape, Museum Heist, The Kidnapping and Hostage – all of which are more realistic than people imagine.

Operation Casino is a game where players are sent to the Casino room to collect clues and discover the alias of a missing agent -- and avoid the syndicate responsible for them being missing. Island Escape involves a trip to – and an escape from -- a tropical island with an active volcano about to erupt.

General Manager Mike Hilton (left) and Game Master Hannah Powell (right) set up one of the Breakout Games challenges. (Photo: Jason Waite/Arlington Voice)

Museum Heist tests players ability to break into an art thief’s house to retrieve stolen art, while The Kidnapping actually involves players being held captive and having to rely on their wits to escape before the kidnapper returns.

Hostage puts the players on a hijacked airplane, handcuffed to other passengers. They must free themselves and foil the plan.

With people today looking for more enjoyment, real or staged, Breakout is providing that opportunity, with Hilton’s team having as much fun as the players.

“It’s one of the best jobs I’ve ever had,” said Game Master Hannah Powell, who has been with the store almost a year. “My favorite thing is working with the customers and [making] sure they’re having fun.”

The players’ fun has ranged from a group playing Island Escape and dressing up as the characters like those on Gilligan’s Island, to Grandparents, who claim to only be watching, not playing, but winding up on their knees to assemble a map.

“They really get into it,” Hilton said. “It makes it more fun, and I wish more people would do that.”

Powell says the games generally last from 45 minutes to the 60-minute limit. To her recollection, the record for winning a game is 37 minutes.

it’s easy to get overly involved in any role-playing game, but Hilton advises his players not to overthink the games.

“It’s easy to get carried away in these games,” he said. “It’s not as complicated as they think.”

The game also makes believers out of players who arrive overconfident and get a taste of reality.

“We have lots of professors, teachers and students who play our games,” Powell said. “They’re usually surprised at how much education they have to use.”

For more information on Breakout Games, visit its website or call (817) 394-4833.