Interview with Nathan owner of Agent November

When did you start up Agent November and what inspired you to come up with the concept ? Our first customer (a large supermarket) came to us on 19th August 2014 (FYI I didn’t have to look that date up; the moment my business started is one of those rare dates that’s imprinted on my brain!). I’d estimate that I was working on creating the business for most of 2014 before that, either part time or full time.

How did you come up with the name Agent November ?  I was partly inspired by a cool, enigmatic character in the TV series Fringe named “September”. Like Agent November he wears a trilby hat in the classic noir style and is involved in investigating strange mysteries. However “November” is the first letter of my name in the NATO phonetic alphabet, so it was a fun way of naming the company after me, without actually using my name! The really fun thing is that some of my friends have started calling me Agent November, so it’s really become my alter ego! The actors who work for me have also adopted this naming strategy, so Adam would be “Agent Alpha” and Beth would be “Agent Bravo” etc. I just feel sorry for Jack and Ruth…

What is the fastest time anyone has ever completed any of your games? I did have one team that was scarily good and completed a mission in about 40 minutes, which was amazing. The lady who organised it said she had done over 50 escape games, and it definitely showed. Apart from that one team, I think the fastest is around 49 or 49 minutes.

Has there been any funny moments when people have played any of your games ? Loads! My favorite has to be when I dressed a group of customers in our classic trilby hats and told them they would be trying to defeat the “Rainbow Syndicate”. Quite by chance, they spotted a member of the public dressed head to toe in a yellow suit, plus a black trilby! They became obsessed that he must be the “yellow” member of the gang and were demanding that I let them follow him to see if he gave away any clues!

What game seems to be the most popular with people ? Our most popular mission is Major X Plow-Shun, and I think people love it because it is really tense due to the time pressure of having to defuse a nuclear device, mixed with some funny and unexpected clues and puzzles that come up.

Have you ever thought about setting up a permanent murder mystery style escape room instead ? I have looked into creating a permanent escape room, in fact I have sketched out a plan for how I would do it and what puzzles I would make. However I’ve found that people are so happy with the existing missions I make that there just isn’t the need for me to go through all the trouble of taking out a lease on a premises and all the paperwork that goes with it.

Who is your favourite detective/spy ? A few years ago I would have said James Bond, but I’m afraid that position has now been taken by Jason Bourne. The action scenes are just so well filmed and executed, and the pacing and tension is so well done.

Have you any new games/ideas coming up ? Loads! I am redesigning all 3 of my existing missions to make them even better than before. I expect this to be complete by around the end of April, so there will be a price increase around that time to allow for these improvements (so make your bookings soon if you want to avoid the price increase!) I am also creating some educational games for my old school, and am looking to rerun the zombie event we held last year at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. 

Where do you see your company in five years time ? I am looking to expand the business to several cities around the country – so anyone interested in setting up a fun, flexible escape game company should get in touch!

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