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April 18, 2021

Claustrophobia: Dream Factory (Online, Moscow, Russia)

Dream Title

Claustrophobia invited us to play another large scale Zoom game called "Dream Factory". Like their first game we played (World Domination), there were six teams (four-five players per team) but this time each team represented a different movie studio. Each studio plotted towards achieving the biggest box office hits. This was more of a strategic game and not a traditional escape room as there were no puzzles to solve. We also teamed up with Room Escape Artist Hive Mind reviewers because of the scale of the game (see their review here). 

In every round of this game, each studio had to choose the genre of movie they wanted to produce, attempt to sign a celebrity to play the star, invest in advertising, tap into the paparazzi or buy marketing forecasts for industry intel.  Teams would meet in Zoom breakout rooms to discuss their selections in secret and then at the end of each of the five rounds, all teams would meet up and present their ideas.

Here is a breakdown of what each team had to be aware of.
  • Movie Stars: Each round you had to submit a single bid for one of four celebrities. If you were outbid, your movie would have no star and be adversely affected in terms of ticket sales. We asked if we could bid on two stars but were told that we probably shouldn't.
  • Genre: Each round, a genre was also chosen and the box office forecasts for each genre could be known ahead of time if money was spent on a marketing forecast. The tricky part was that the box office dollars were split equally by all studios that had the same genre so it could be better to choose a less popular theme in order to get the full earnings potential.
  • Paparazzi: Some celebrities would be caught in some scandals, thus affecting their movie box office performance. A studio could avoid this actor if they paid money for some intel.
  • Advertising: This somehow affected your revenue as well but it wasn't quite clear as to how much of a difference it made.

Highlights and Memorable Moments

Every round, each team had to present their film and it was fun but also quite stressful to come up with anything coherent in as little as eight minutes! At the end of the presentations, teams voted for what they thought was the best movie of the round and a score was presented. The goal of this game really wasn't to "win" but more to have fun with some ridiculous story telling. Once a studio had a box office lead, we noticed that they never got any votes for best movie, despite getting the most laughs or having the most clever punch lines. This was one of those games where everyone could team up and slow down the leader by simply not awarding them any votes. Nonetheless, this experience provided a ton of laughs and was highly dependent on the personalities of the individuals who participated. 

One of the movie hits was an extremely inappropriate, but hilarious NC-17 rated blockbuster that was concocted by some dirty minds.

Dream Factory
Really amazing group of people!

Room For Improvement

While there was a scoring system in the form of box office revenue, it wasn't quite clear how this was affected by the different elements in the game. How bad was it to not have a movie star or to not put any resources into advertising? We didn't have a clue. There was also some text that was still in Russian but we were able to Google translate it pretty quickly. 

Another aspect that should be considered was that shy people found themselves standing back as an observer. Perhaps a game mechanic that made everyone present something could have mitigated this?

Dream Score
From Claustrophobia

Overall Thoughts

I always appreciate the large style online games (+30 players) as it's incredibly difficult to craft an activity where so many people, for the most part, can actively participate in. Dream Factory's free flowing structure opened the door to whatever was in the minds of its participants which led to something entertaining and hilarious. It was almost like watching an Improv show where all the participants were winners. We recommend playing this game with people who don't take themselves too seriously and who perhaps have a tad of silliness in them.
  • Difficulty: Just have fun!
  • Number of players: 12-35 (we recommend 24)
  • Duration:  1.5-2 hours
  • Overall Rating: ★★★

Disclosure: Claustrophobia comped the tickets for this game