UTM Forensic Science grad taps investigative experience to launch online escape rooms
When Nick Lowe received his Forensic Biology Specialist Degree from UTM, he never thought he would use his degree to start his own business and create online escape rooms.
“For fun, whenever I talked about retirement, I thought it might be fun to open an escape room,” says Lowe. “So there was somewhat of an idea there, but definitely not this early in life.”
Lowe, who graduated from UTM in 2019, has recently launched The Puzzleverse – describing it as a collection of engaging and thought-provoking virtual puzzle games that people can enjoy from home and play online with friends and relatives.
The games are aimed at participants aged 13 and older, and require four to six players. There are currently four escape rooms offered on the website, which launched in mid-May.
Lowe says he got the idea while working as a Game Master at a Winnipeg escape room, when the third wave of COVID-19 hit Manitoba and forced his workplace to close its in-person games.
That’s when Lowe decided to partner with his brother Jayden, a graphic designer, to create The Puzzleverse.
Lowe says his undergraduate degree at UTM gave him the knowledge and skills to create all of the games offered so far on the website – including the “Murder Royale” game, where a prince has been murdered and the users have to work as a forensic team to help the young lead detective catch the killer.
“That one is directly related to my undergraduate experience,” Lowe says, adding that his degree helped hone his skills to create these virtual escape rooms.
“When I see a problem I search for evidence, analyze it, and interpret it in the context of what I’m doing,” he explains. “That was definitely the mindset I had when designing these puzzles.”
Lowe adds that he has received great feedback from players who appreciate having the ability to experience an escape room when they can’t physically be with each other.
Eventually, Lowe says he would like to lean even more into the virtual space and potentially design games that can be played using Virtual Reality devices.
“Players would be able to scan and interact with the rooms on a level that would make them feel they were actually inside an escape room from the comfort of their own home,” he says.
He believes The Puzzleverse will still be a popular entertainment option for people, even after COVID-19 restrictions begin to lift.
“There will always be some sort of need or demand for it,” Lowe says. “People are always going to be geographically separated and may have family far away. You can always play with them through the game, be connected, and have fun with them.”