escape game three

Ever wonder if you could escape from a prison? Find a hidden pirate’s treasure? Uncover clues to solve a crime for CSI?

Well, wonder no more, because now you can experience all of those and more at the Bust Out Escape Game at 2704 Central Ave., Bettendorf.

Owner Scott Carpenter opened up Bust Out in October after experiencing an escape room game first hand on vacation in Myrtle Beach, S.C.

escape game one“I was down there with my daughter, Paige, and she thought it would be fun, so we did it and we had a great time, we loved it,” Carpenter said. “I did some research and saw that the games have been going on since 2008 in Japan and there were games like this in Chicago and Des Moines but nothing in the Quad-Cities, so I figured why not open one here?”
Why not? And, it’s been a good choice. Things were slow to start, but once word-of-mouth got around, people started showing up for the chance at solving the human puzzle.
“People are really liking it,” Carpenter said. “It’s unique, something new and different in the area. And people go in to it thinking it’s going to be easy and come out saying ‘wow, that was harder than I thought it was going to be,’ so they like the challenge of it.”
But it’s not too challenging either to the point of it being frustrating, Carpenter said. On average, about half of the groups figure out the puzzle, which is on the high side for rooms of this sort.

“I’ve read where some of the games only 10 percent of the groups get through,” he said. “That seems like it wouldn’t be as fun because people like to actually feel like they have a good chance at solving the puzzle within the hour.”

Here’s how it works: A group of two to eight people are placed in a theme room – different themes can include a CSI scene, finding a pirate’s treasure or simply escaping from the room – and over the next hour they have to scour the room for clues in order to solve the puzzle.

“People love it, because it really challenges them,” Carpenter said. “Plus, it’s a great team-building activity. We have a lot of businesses book the rooms because it builds camaraderie among employees and makes them work together to solve a problem.

“It’s also great because in an age where everybody goes out and is looking at their cell phones, this forces people to interact and work together, they have to put their phones away and talk to each other and work as one to solve all the clues and solve the puzzle,” Carpenter said.

escape game twoCarpenter plans on cycling the games and changing the rooms out on a regular basis to keep things fresh and to keep repeat customers coming back for new challenges, he said.

“By September we’re going to have all new rooms,” he said. “I’ve been around to about 10 others and have gotten some great ideas for new rooms.”

Carpenter, 52, is quick to credit his daughter, Paige, 15, a freshman at Sherrard, with being a huge help in regard to the rooms, in addition to being the reason he checked them out in the first place.

“I can’t emphasize enough how big of a help she’s been,” he said. “I really appreciate her and all she’s done.”

And the big winners from their hard work are the people who go to check out the game rooms.

For more information or to book a room, contact Scott at

Sean Leary is an author, director, artist, musician, producer and entrepreneur who has been writing professionally since debuting at age 11 in the pages of the Comics Buyers Guide. An honors graduate of the University of Southern California masters program, he has written almost 30 books including the best-sellers The Arimathean, Every Number is Lucky to Someone and We Are All Characters.