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Fargo Escape Room to open Sept. 3 is part of live-action game phenomenon

Sarah Deutsch, Darin Livdahl, Paul Bourdeaux and Eric Ista have opened the Fargo Escape Room in which participants are locked in a room and have one hour to find clues to help them get out. Dave Wallis / Forum News Service1 / 2
Participants who are locked in a room have an hour to find clues and figure a way to get out of the room using clues they find in this room at the Fargo Escape Room in West Fargo. Dave Wallis / Forum News Service2 / 2

WEST FARGO -- Imagine being locked in a room. The only way out is to find clues and solve a series of puzzles and riddles. There is just 60 minutes on the clock.

Sound terrifying? In truth, many people are willing to pay for the experience.

The first escape rooms debuted nearly a decade ago in Japan. Since then, the live-action game phenomenon has swept over Asia and Europe and is currently working its way across the U.S.

Area residents will have an opportunity to check it out for themselves when the Fargo Escape Room opens on Sept. 3.

The business is owned by Sarah Deutsch, Paul Bourdeaux, Darin Livdahl and Eric "Fish" Ista, co-workers at Fargo marketing firm Sundog.

Deutsch and Ista were the first to visit an escape room several months ago while on a business trip to Denver.

"Fish and I went with a group of business partners. Immediately, we thought we could do this and do it better. We were hooked," Deutsch said.

They enlisted the help of Bourdeaux and Livdahl. The four friends were already working together on another side venture called Fideaux, a social app development company.

"It was right up our alley. It's the type of stuff we like to do," said Bourdeaux.

The first room they will open is called "Framed."

"Basically, you've been framed in a bank robbery and you have 60 minutes before the cops get there. In that time, you have to find all the evidence to clear your name as well as a way to get out of the room yourself," Bourdeaux explained.

Family, friends and co-workers have been testing it out over the past month. So far, no one has been able to make it through in time. Bourdeaux said that is by design.

"The goal is only to have 25 to 30 percent of the teams actually make it out. It's supposed to be hard. If you make it out, it's an accomplishment and you should be proud," he said.

Players do have the option of requesting hints. Deutsch said the most successful team thus far used them liberally. They were just 30 seconds shy of getting out. They had everything they needed, just not in the right order.

The group has ideas for at least six additional escape rooms. The second, "The Will," is already under construction and will open Oct. 1. They plan to introduce one new room every six months or so.

Although they are not yet open, Deutsch said they have gotten a great response since launching their Facebook page a few weeks ago.

"We wanted to bring something to Fargo other than the bar scene," she said. "It's something that gives people who are maybe not of the drinking age yet or are not interested in drinking something different to do."


What: Fargo Escape Room

Where: 2220 Main Ave., West Fargo

Contact: (701) 532-1138


Hours: 6 to 10 p.m. Thursday and Friday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday (beginning Sept. 3)

Cost: $28/person