What is the best company team building activity you have experienced? Chances are it was something unique, not the typical bowling or scavenger hunt. What about – without advance notice – being trapped in a room with 20 of your coworkers? No, it’s not a joke. It is the newest way to organize team building activities at your company and I am fascinated. AdVenture Games Inc. (“AGI”) is a team building company that will appear in your office, providing you with theatrical scenarios designed to help your employees bond and work on soft skills.
Being locked in a room with your coworkers sounds unfathomable? Spy Game may get you a bit more excited. Have your CEO kidnapped and work with your colleagues to find clues in order to get him back. It is the newest way to prank your employees while also experiencing team building activities.
AdVenture Games Inc. Team Bonding Highlights
AdVenture Games is a highly customizable experience for your employees. It is designed with team building skills in mind while not boring your team with another meeting and information packet. Here are some of the highlights of AdVenture Games Inc…
- Super customizable and scalable. Whether you are a small company of 20 people or an international company wanting to have the experience with 600 people. AGI offers a number of games that are very scalable to suit your specific needs.
- The game style appeals to a wide range of demographics, including younger employees and more experienced members of your team. AGI recommends getting your leadership team involved for maximum trust-building.
- Give your employees a surprise team building activity. Rather than just talk about team building you have the opportunity to watch and learn how your employees interact with one another under stressful situations. As founder Chad Michael says, “The way that you play this game is the way that you play life.”
- At the end of the game, the developers debrief the players. The group will discuss the dynamics and situations your employees may not have noticed while playing. Then each team member is sent home with a packet and learning materials to continue to build off of the skills they learned that day.
- The games come to you! Whether you are in an office building, company offsite, hotel or roaming downtown. AGI can customize the scenario to fit whatever your needs, and they travel everywhere – from Los Angeles to Boston, location is not an issue.
- Employees keep prizes and tokens they can keep on their desks as a reminder of the fun event and the important lessons on collaboration and communication.
Team Building Activities at AdVenture Games
AdVenture Games has everything from strategic to creativity games. Some games fit companies better than others. Two games companies often enjoy…
- Room Escape is a mobile”escape the room” that AdVenture Games Inc. will bring to you. Your employees will be tricked – in good fun – into the room for another boring meeting or motivational speaker, then a video will appear revealing they are trapped. The players then have a limited amount of time to figure out how to escape the room. Prices vary based on the number of participants.
- Spy Game involves solving clues to complete a mission. Typically this mission involves kidnapping and the players have to work together to find their missing colleague. However, the team must be careful because you never know who is trying to sabotage the rescue. Prices vary based on the number of participants.
AdVenture Games Inc. Photos
More than just a board game, AGI’s team building exercises get theatrical. Match your colleagues to their roles and maybe run into an informant or two. Trained improv actors assist the facilitators in making this experience as real as possible!
Interview with Chad Michael, founder and lead facilitator at AdVenture Games Inc.
Watch my interview with Chad while we talk AdVenture Games Inc., pranking your colleagues and what companies learn about themselves as a result of this team building experience.
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Michael: So today I am interviewing Chad Michael of Adventure Games Inc. Thrilled to have you on the call.Chad: Thank you.
Michael: So the first question I have for you is very simply, what is Adventure Games Inc?
Chad: Well Adventure Games is a national based team building company. We focus mostly on of course fun, but another focus is learning. So we have a combination of both. So not only do we give you a great experience where you could bond together but we want to leave you with some things that can be applied into the workplace.
Michael: Got it. Now the actual activities it looks like are pretty diverse. So it looks like you can customize the experience to what people want but what is a typical event with your company like?
Chad: Most people come to us for our spy game and that is an original program that actually is our flagship activity that most people do come to us for. That is an interactive program that involves a lot of theatrics. We typically will kidnap their CEO or boss or will put together another type of scenario that has to do with the company or maybe it is a information breach or a hack or some sort of a threat and we come in and interrupt a meeting so it comes as a surprise. There is really no way for the participants to even know that it is coming or pre-judge it and we come in and take over the meeting. We put people into teams, they download maps to their smartphones, and off they go looking for informants which are professional actors that we hire at each location. What i love about spy game is that it could be played anywhere. So we have had clients that want us to build a game in their office that never leaves their four walls. We could also play them in downtown or any type of destination locations so that people get a chance to explore the area or get out of their office and we have done them in hotels if they are having their meetings at hotels we can stage it all over the property and this is great at places where it may have inclement weather, or it is too hot, too cold, too rainy etc. So it is very flexible. It does focus a lot on learning. There are a lot of parallels that we draw from the experience that relate to real life. All of our programs come with a debrief. So it is not just a high five, here is your trophy and I hope you had a great day. It is more like, ‘alright lets see how today’s exercise actually applies to how we work together and communicate and how we problem solve under pressure.’
Michael: Got it. There is a ton there so I would love to dig into it a little bit more. Spy games sounds like a cool game. It sounds really unique. It also sounds heavily customized. So I assume it typically starts with a HR manager or training manager maybe the CEO himself calling you up and say ‘hey we want to do this team building event’. Once you decide on spy games, what is the customization process like? Is it a lot of back and forth? Do you have standard templates?
Chad: It is very turn key. Spy game does run kind of on a standard template. But it can be picked up and moved anywhere. I like to think of it like a traveling minstrel show. You know, it is very flexible but the characters can be interchangeable. The customization comes with the location where they want to play it. It is never usually played in the same place twice. Unless it just so happens a client wants it in the same place and also the storyline of the experience, cause it is very storyline drive. Much like a murder mystery it definitely involves the participants that way. Customizations usually come about by how they want us to start off the meeting. Who is going to get kidnapped? Is it a kidnapping? Is it not? So there is a lot of different things we can do. To give you kind of a fun example of something we did recently is our client put on their agenda that they were having to do this 3 hour compliance training and that somebody from their headquarters, from switzerland, was coming in to train them and so we came in and pretended to be that person from Switzerland and we even had that whole accent going and everything and we started the meeting and everyone just thought ‘o man, this is just going to be so awful’. Firstly, because the guy was kind of very dry and very boring and they thought ‘man I’ve got to sit through this for 3 hours’. Then of course our actors come in and bust in and interrupt that. So that is kind of some of the examples of customization we could do for that particular activity. We have others that are fully 100% customized, but this one kind of runs on a platform.
Michael: Right cool, so the end goal is team building but it sounds like this could also be used to prank your colleagues if you choose to.
Chad: The first part of it is definitely is a prank. We did one yesterday for Pepsi Co. and we came into their actual meeting place. Like in their office building and when we came in and busted in and said there is a situation people were definitely alarmed. For about, I would say about 10 seconds they are alarmed like, ‘Woah what is really going on?’ but we do it in such a way that is kind of borderline ridiculous that they immediately know it is a prank. We have another game that full on sets up like a prank. For 5 minutes they are being pranked and that is our office escape. This is the very first mobile escape room that comes to your office or meeting place so you don’t have to go sign up for a time or leave the office or meeting location. We come to you and we set it up where we come in before their meeting starts and we pepper the room with clues and they tell everybody that they have hired this phenomenal motivational speaker. That is going to come in and do some training for them and that is where the prank is. This person comes in and they are really really unprepared and they are awkward and they make… they are tipping things over. You know, sweating from their palms. Just really really awkward and for about 5 minutes this happens to them where they are like really stuck in the room with this guy. Then all of the sudden a video pops up and tells them that they are really locked in the room and they have to figure out how to get out. So it is a really funny kind of set up to that game. And it has been really successful for us. It is one of our newer games. We launched it about 1 year and a half ago. It has been very very successful.
Michael: Right, so I have a technical question about the set up. You mentioned having one of the pranks, one of the set ups, was having somebody to pretend to have a swiss accent and now there is this person that pretends to be a motivational speaker. Do you hire actors? Like how are you executing this?
Chad: Yea, we hire actors. So usually improv actors and even in spy game where they are going around talking to actors they are all improv actors. They are scripted but at the same time they are also improv and they have different quirks and personalities to them.
Michael: Right and the ability to play off the scenario is cool.
Michael: So with the team building events, just a couple staple questions, how long do they usually run?
Chad: Anywhere from 1 to 3 hours.
Michael: Ok and as to what the customer wants and I am also curious about you being able to offer the service to so many markets. Does that mean your team flies in and sets it up? Or do you hire locally?
Chad: Both, so our facilitators will fly in because we don’t just hire any facilitator. They have to be trained with us but the actors are hired locally. So for instance, this week we operated in 3 different cities. We were in Las Vegas, Austin and Orlando and in each one of those locations we hired local actors and because we frequent most of those cities on a regular basis most of our actors have worked several games. So they are very familiar with what we do and in some cases we have to bring in new people and we just train them before the game starts. But it is always local talent and that is always how can keep our pricing competitive. If we flew in our whole crew of 10 people it gets very expensive.
Michael: Yea, absolutely. Even for large companies with healthy budgets it’s difficult to justify flying 10 folks in.
Michael: Ok, I am of course familiar with a lot of the challenges companies have, why they do team building, etc. What are some of the most common reasons you hear for companies hiring your specific firm?
Chad: You know when people are calling us the buzz word they usually use, it is always the same, is we are looking for something different. We’ve done the scavenger hunts. We have done the minute to win it. We’ve done the ya know, the boat builds, we’ve done…you know …whatever, there is a lot of team building stuff that is kind of generic. I mean yea sure, we have a couple of those generic things in our wheelhouse but they are usually not the ones that we sell. They are just there to kind of pick up the scraps of the people that like us but want something generic so that is usually the reason why they contact us. So they want something different and then they really get sold on the fact that we are going to teach your team some really valuable lessons and that is where we are different then most team building companies. I know there some out there that do offer that but most of them do not and the ones that typically do offer learning it is usually not very interesting. They are usually a bit more flat. With more emphasis on their learning. We are a little more evenly dispersed between fun and learning.
Michael: Got it. So one of these companies that you work with in the past they have done like bowling and cooking classes and scavenger hunts..whatever else, now they are ready for it sounds like leveling up in both the customization of the experience offering something very unique to their employees but also adding almost like an academic element or a more tangible element of team building with the learning. How do you infuse that into the events? How do you make sure people are leaving with the lessons they are meant to take on?
Chad: At the end of the activity we go into, before we announce the winners, we go into the lessons learned and each game has a handout that goes over the different elements that they experience. For instance, the spy game, there is a mole on every team that is sabotaging them and they have to figure out who it is. Well at the end we applaud those moles for playing a great role because they teach us how important it is that everyone share a common goal because if one person wants to do things their own way or has an agenda they bring the whole team down. If those moles go undetected, if they don’t turn themselves in, the team loses half of their points. So it is very detrimental to the team and that’s just one example. Some of our other programs, like our office escape, we talk about things like occams razor and how we tend to overthink things and the simplest solution is usually the correct one. So they actually get an actual tangible document that they can take with them and on the back on all of our programs we offer this really great tool. It is a bullseye graphic and it gives them a place to write down their goals and something they want to envision and create to work together as a team and we give them a token that goes with that they can keep in their pocket, put on their desk to remind themselves of what it is that they learned that day and also remind themselves of the goals they had set on that paper and I actually just got an email yesterday from the tiffany company. We had done our spy game for all of the store directors back in the fall. This one particular store director wrote to me and said the goal setting that we gave them worked. That when they had met me, before they had played our game, their store was really struggling and she asked me for extra materials to take back to her employees and they all decided to join this vision together with this tool and she wrote to tell me that they exceeded it and that they actually, their review was coming and they actually exceeded the expectations the company set for them. So that is pretty cool. That is really really cool actually and that is kind of the end goal we want to accomplish. We want to let people have a great time, bond, get to know each other but ultimately we want you to leave with something that is going to make you better.
Michael: Right, and for them to have a concrete result that will carry on in their company. I love the framing of that. So they have that experience and I expect a lot of the participants are in tuned with they are doing team building, they are collaborating, they are doing more, they are learning to work together, etc. but afterwards you actually frame it for them. This is what you learned and why and then they carry it forward.
Chad: Yea, our kind of tagline when we go into that is the way that you play this game is the way that you play life because it really is the same. How you show up in the game is exactly how you show up in real life.
Michael: Totally, although but that makes me worried about how I play werewolf.
Chad: Hahahaha, but it is interesting to me because it brings out parts of your personality that aren’t always present but that are ultimately fundamentally who you are.
Michael: Right. That’s funny but to be fair when I play werewolf I am just like, “I am a peasant” but I actually am a peasant. So hopefully that means I am an honest person not an effective werewolf player. That’s ok, alright so I have like 2 or 3 more questions I would love to dig in on. When you first started telling me about spy game I was imagining a very collaborative event but then you mentioned points and I am thinking it might be competitive. Is it broken into teams that work against each other?
Chad: In larger groups yes. So it is very competitive and people want to win. It is all point based. So you get points for doing each of the assignments and you get points for answering the question. You know and figuring out the information correct. On top of that when they realize there is a mole on the team, the mole is earning their own points too. Which are contrary to the points that the team is earning. So yes there is that element of competition. When we deal with small teams, you know 8 or under, often asked to be put together and at that point it is a collaborative effort but once they realize there is a mole they realize there is a little bit of competition, ‘wait a minute, we might loose this to one of our own teammates here’. It seems that if they come to us and want something a bit more collaborative so that there isn’t the competition and everybody works together our office escape is perfect for that and we have another one called national treasure. Which can be more collaborative not competitive but it can also have the competitive element if they want to but a lot of times, a lot of our smaller companies do the office escape because they can all stick together, they’re all having the experience together, there is no competition, they are dealing with the time clock. They want to figure this out in the amount of time given.
Michael: Right, got it. But you do have this variety of services so they can choose the one that they like. Who do you find this is most suitable for demographics wise?
Chad: You know, depending on the game. Our office escape tends to do really well with the younger people. They tend to solve it easier than the older people. Salespeople have a very hard time that is anything logistic. A lot of our games that require you to think a lot and to strategize and really problem solve sales people tend to not do well. Sales people tend to do really well on creative challenges almost like the amazing race. Were you run and do stunts and you like take pictures, like whatever. When it comes to actual demographics male, female, age range, really most of our games kind of…I guess there is a broad enough stroke to them that I haven’t really seen where this game just doesn’t do well with older men or this game is really great with younger women. Everyone really seems to really get into it. It really boils down to how successful are they in being able to solve it. Especially our spy game, spy game is hard and the escape room is hard. And we find that people who communicate well tend to score higher and people who don’t communicate well, aka sales people, sales people have historically don’t listen. So any type of listening game is going to be a struggle for them and it shows up in their scores at the end. Does that answer your question? I think I kind of went all over the place on that one.
Michael: No, that is perfect. So it does sound like you accommodate a very wide range of graphics. Which is good but that it is more suitable for some groups. I am fascinated on the insights into sales folks because now that I actually think of it I have seen some people that I work with in the past, not everyone of course, there are some sales folks that do strategize and see the bigger picture, but very very interesting.
Chad: Yea, well it all boils down to listening. I will tell you when I do team building and it is all sales people, when I am giving instructions on the games a lot of people are talking over me. They don’t listen and then they go out in the game and they can’t understand why they didn’t do very well or why it was so hard. Well you didn’t listen to anything that I said.
Chad: You know and when we do the escape room for them…oh my gosh. You get a bunch of sales people in a room and then try to have them organically come up with a hierarchy within the room it is almost impossible. It is chaos but then we did the escape room for the Mars company and it was all the engineers who build the mechanics for their candy making machines and they got out in like 20-30 minutes. They just know how to organize themselves and organize their thoughts and sales people tend to want to talk. They want their ideas to be heard rather than listen to what everyone else is saying. I would love to write a book on sales people because I watch them and analyze them and they are always the ones that just…they are usually the most fun. Their personalities are always more dynamic and they just…and I think gosh if companies could just teach their sales people how to listen better their sales will go through the roof.
Chad:You know that is one of the things that I teach, you know, at the end. Especially spy game we talk about the art of listening, the power of listening and sometimes as I tell them this I am watching them not listen to me. It is really fascinating. Yea, sales people I am just fascinated by them.
Michael: I am imagining the type of stereotypical of a sales person. The stereotypical extrovert at a party where they just keep talking to you without actually receiving back. Is that one of the challenges companies are having and why they are coming to you? Cause they have people that aren’t listening.
Chad: They don’t know that. They don’t know that is the reason. But the main reason is, if companies are having problems the main reason is usually there is a trust issue and if there is a trust issue then there is a communication breakdown that is happening within the team because if you don’t trust somebody their word has no value to you. So you are not going to respect them, you are not going to respect what they have to say, cause you don’t trust them and there are a lot of different things…you could dig deep deep and why are there problems with trust? But it usually starts at the top. So it is who ever the owner of the company is or the CEO, or it could be a direct manager, they create their circle of trust. If that trust is not solid then their teams are not solid, they are not going to be communicating well and then when it comes to sales people…when companies are hiring sales people they are usually looking for certain kinds of personality types. And those personality types just don’t listen that is just the way they are.
Michael: Right, so I don’t want to badger the sales folks anymore. I am looking forward to your book, I will definitely read it.
Chad: hahaha I have to do it.
Michael: Yea, totally right? I am curious about the trust element though. Do you usually get the team leader shift involved though so it is not just trust between coworkers? Also trust between different levels of management.
Chad: Well most of the people that come to us, we are not the cheapest team building company in town. We are not the most expensive but we are not the cheapest, so we tend to get the higher level executives especially when they are playing our spy game because that is our most expensive program. So we don’t come to the company and pitch them. We don’t say ‘hey we want to take these different department heads and put them together’. They usually come to us and say ‘this is who is going to be participating’, but most of the time it tends to be the department heads. It is either the department heads or one whole facet of the company. This is our finance team or this is our sales team or this is our operations team. Very rarely is it kind of everybody. I find that when it is everybody…I find that when it is all of these different department heads they tend to struggle to with the games because they are not used to having to communicate with one another. They usually only deal with their one department.
Michael: Right, got it and they occasionally have meetings where everybody is distracted, etc.
Michael: So you brought up pricing, can we go a little bit into that. How does it work? Is it like flat fee? Is it per person?
Chad: We charge per head but we do have minimum pricing that you have to hit before it goes into that per head pricing. Usually anything under 20 people is tends to be about a flat rate with us. After that it breaks down into per head.
Michael: With a disclaimer that pricing can of course change, can be customize etc. Can you give me specific examples of numbers that you would quote?
Chad: Sure, for instance our spy game is $165 a person. And there is a flat rate of $3,850. That is for us to just show up, produce the event. So if you have a team of 10 people it is going to be $3,850. If you have 20 people it is going to be $3,850 and after that it is per person because typically as the groups get larger we have more staff, we have more actors, if it gets over 80 -100 people we will split the game in two. So not everyone is talking to the same actors but they are having the same experience. So that kind of gives you an example of one game.
Michael: Got it. Some of the other companies that I have worked with and talked to, similar price point. you are right you are kind of on the high end but not the highest. So it sounds like a company works with you could expect to pay between that $3,8.., well actually, you said spy game was the highest so between $3,800 or if it was a very large team $10,000, $15,000, but that is accommodating a lot of people.
Chad: Yea, to give you an example we did one for like 180 people and it was about…I think it was $18,000 but that was for 4 tracks, you know, it was a big production. You know, we have one next week with 600 people and that’s in the upwards of over $30,000. So it just depends. That’s what I love about this business it is very scalable. You know it is just…you know we always love when companies come to us, ‘we have 100 people’. O great, cause we know we are going to have a nice pay check from those but we do have a new thing that is coming up. We have been doing some market analysis and a lot of smaller companies have I would say 20 people and under tend to come at us with very limited budgets and so they can’t reach our minimum. So we do have our minimum like our escape room is a minimum of $1,500. We don’t really make a lot on those but we do it just so that we would rather them have an experience with us and come back to us with a larger team than just loose business all together. So those are kind of our introductory games but we have this app that is coming out because we find that most people will go to escape room but those are $35 a person on average and you can probably go on groupon and get it for half that. So we have developed an app that is a puzzle solving game, like an escape room but it is story line driven, like our spy game, and it is set in historic locations. So we are based in San Diego. So our first game that we are going to build with this is going to be in the gas lamp corridor in San Diego. So you can actually follow the footsteps of a historic character and you go to all the places that he used to go and at each one of these locations you have to unlock a clue that is on your phone and then it will eventually lead you to the final location which is where this missing treasure is or it could be a ghost or whatever the story line is that we have created and at that point you have gotten all the clues to unlock this kind of treasure box on your phone and it opens up on your screen and you see it through your phone like Pokemon Go. So it has that augmented reality element to it and with that coming out we are going to be able to sell that for $35 per person and it is scalable too. So if you say ‘O we don’t have $35 per person’. Well, great, then you can just download it on your own and play it on your own and we will tell you where to start and you know…whatever, but if you want a facilitator to greet you and make sure you understand the app then that is our price point.
Michael: Right, so you are continuing to offer fuller range of services to accommodate more clients, more budgets.
Chad: O yea, cause we are losing so much business because we don’t have something in that price point. I was doing the math, we lost $250,000 last year because we didn’t have something for that market.
Michael: At least, and then you count repeat clients and all people that those clients could have referred. It gets scary very very quickly.
Michael: Ok, I appreciate all of those insights. I have asked the majority of questions I would love answers to and you have given me so much more. I appreciate that. So the last question is an open ended. Is there anything that we didn’t cover? Is there anything we could have gone a little bit deeper into?
Chad: You know the only thing we didn’t really discuss is the customizations we do. We have a program that is designed for companies that want to bring people together to excited them about their brand. Excite them about a new product. Getting people on the same page with the theme of the year, the goal of the year. We call it Apprent Race. It is kind of a cross between the Apprentice and the Amazing Race. It is our own kind of morphed event and that has been really successful for us as well because it is more creative based and we can design the challenges to be about your own products and services. So not only do you have a great team building activity and everyone feels great about the company and the competition is not as fierce either. It is not like you are wanting to outdo everybody. That one has been really great for our companies who are coming out with a new product. A company merger, thats a great one for a merger because it gets everybody kind of on the same page and excited about their brand.
Michael: Right, I love it. So the full range of services, you can customize to exactly what the client needs.
Michael: Cool, so thank you for this interview. Feel like I learned a ton, not just about your business but about team building sales folk.
Chad: Yea, thank you.
AdVenture Games Inc. Reviews
Still not sure if AdVenture Games is for you? Here are a few reviews from people on Yelp that have experienced the thrill of AdVenture Games Inc.. Due to AGI’s flexible nature they have Yelp pages in multiple locations, with many five star ratings.. Curious of who AdVenture Games Inc. has worked with? Here is a list of some of their most notable clients.
My company booked AdVenture Games for our annual Saturday retreat. I can’t say enough about how much fun this was! There was 47 of us participating in their (creatively competitive) scavenger hunt. We were put into teams and challenged with completing several tasks. It was deliberately set up so that associates/managers would collaborate outside of their usual (and familiar) politics. That made all the difference. I don’t think I have ever seen my team laugh so much during a work project as I did with this retreat. The upshot of it was that even weeks after “The Games,” we are still talking about them! So much fun! -Moana J., Yelp Review
Our company was looking for a unique team building exercise that provided an opportunity to have fun while incorporating a learning experience. Chad and his team at AdVentures delivered one of the best group activities I have ever planned. Chad was extremely professional and very easy to work with and customized the activity to meet our needs. We concluded the activity over dinner where the group was provided with a thorough follow-up on what they had learned from the experience. I hope to have the opportunity to work with AdVentures again! Our group ranked this as the best activity our company has planned! -Mary B., Yelp Review
Chad and his team were a perfect fit for what I was looking to instill in my team of employees. I expressed an interest in what I was looking to achieve and Chad delivered with some of the best team building activities I’ve seen in a very long time! I would definitely recommend his company for anyone looking to do something fun yet educational to benefit their overall success! -Haydee V. Yelp Review