FREQ: A Feminist Frequency Newsletter

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Spring is nearly here, and we couldn't be more ready for change.

This month we talked with the executive director of the Transgender Law Center, reviewed everything from the blockbuster film Logan to a video game about cartoon animals in the Rust Belt, and now we're focusing our spotlight on a female game developer doing a fascinating kind of work: building escape rooms. This month also marks the one-year anniversary of our FREQ newsletter, and we hope you've enjoyed our interviews with incredible women from the worlds of media and activism—there's a lot more to come.



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Interview by Laura Hudson

Laura E. Hall wants you to get out; she really does. As an escape room designer, she’s created numerous live-action mysteries where teams of intrepid players sealed in a real-life room must rifle through clues and solve puzzles in hopes of getting out before time runs out. Although she’s created escape rooms for franchises like Resident Evil and Adidas, she’s also the co-founder of 60 Minutes to Escape, a company that runs an award-winning escape room in Portland, Oregon where you uncover the truth about a missing spy. Her work isn’t limited to spaces with four walls, either; she also designs games for computers, tabletops and even streets. She talked to FREQ about the unique challenges of building puzzles that people inhabit, what happens to the people who enter them, and where they intersect with the world of virtual reality.


FREQ: Who do you imagine as your audience when you’re designing escape rooms, and how does that influence the way you make them?

Laura Hall: It’s actually very diverse. We’ve had families coming through, corporate team-building, teenagers’ birthday puzzles. We get really hardcore puzzle-solving people and people who have no puzzle-solving experience whatsoever. It really is difficult to balance it for everybody, which is why we have hints. You can challenge people, but ultimately the goal is fun and if they aren’t having fun, then what’s the point? There’s an art to hinting people, and what we teach our staff to do is direct people’s attention towards something, but never to tell them the answer, because it’s so much more satisfying if they get it themselves. I also try not to put a proctor or helper in the room because that changes how people behave—they look to the person for permission before they touch or move things, and if there’s no one there, they forget they’re being observed so they’re much braver. Sometimes that means they break things, but that’s a given.


FREQ: Both video games and escape rooms can be interactive puzzle-solving experiences—escape rooms were even inspired by video games. So what makes the real-life version different, both for players and for designers like you?

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What's New

  • Anita profiled three books by women to read for self-care and inspiration.
  • Carolyn reviewed Night in the Woods, an “unabashedly anti-capitalist and anti-fascist” game about anthropomorphic animals in the Rust Belt.
  • Laura interviewed Kris Hayashi, executive director of the Transgender Law Center, about fighting for trans rights in the era of Trump.
  • Ebony reviewed Get Out, a horror film where white supremacy is the real terror.
  • Carolyn examined John Wick 2 and Yakuza 0, and her desire for “messy, honest art that digs deep and confronts the realities of the systems in which we live and operate.”
  • Anita spoke about inclusion at GDC 2017’s Advocacy Microtalks (and used 20 great cat gifs!)
  • Ashley wrote about the potentially harmful language and images showing up at protests, and why we must be vigilant about our words.
  • Anita reviewed Logan, “a film fighting with itself.”


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