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Meet The Creative Minds Behind Hauntu & Breakout Games – Superdough [Exclusive]

Meet The Creative Minds Behind Hauntu & Breakout Games – Superdough [Exclusive]

The creators of escape games such as Breakout, Spy Game and Hauntu share the journey of how they came to be.

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Have you ever played one of those escape games? It’s the heart-pounding thrill, the mind-bending puzzles, the enveloping atmosphere, and the engaging storylines that’ll get adventure-seekers craving for more.

But have you ever stopped to wonder what goes on behind the minds of those who created these games? How did they start and what did they have to go through to create such ingenious masterpieces?

Well, lucky for you, we got into an interview with the founders of Superdough, a company behind escape rooms like Breakout, Hauntu and Spy Game to tell us what goes behind creating an immersive escape game.

Through insightful conversations with Johnny Ong, Kelly Low, and Cheah Ka Wai – the co-founders of Superdough, we explored the inception of their idea and their journey to revolutionize the world of immersive entertainment.

Origin of Breakout

It all started when Johnny Ong, Co-Founder and Head of Operations and Experience Design went to China for a work assignment and experienced his first escape room there. Then, the escape room trend was booming in China and he thought that he could do this kind of business in Malaysia too.

Johnny Ong and Kelly Low (left). Breakout entrance in Avenue K (right).
(Credit: Afifah Syahirah / Buzzkini, Breakout Malaysia / Facebook)

He then came home and told his then-girlfriend, Kelly Low, Co-Founder and Head of Business Development, who would, spoiler alert, later become his wife. Together with a few other friends, they had an idea to create something new and fun for Malaysians to do, rather than the traditional cinema and food-hunt outings people generally do.

That’s when they started with Breakout in 2014 and fast forward to almost 10 years later, they’ve created an empire of live entertainment.

If Superdough is not a baking factory, then what is it?

When they finally realize that they wanted to go big rather than just one Breakout brand, Cheah Ka Wai, Co-Founder and Head of Digital Marketing, discussed with the team and came out with the name “Superdough” for their revolutionising company.

“Dough” is a symbol of malleability and adaptability, to show how their ideas can change and fit different situations, just like their flexible activities. The addition of “Super” added a touch of flair to the name.

So they changed their company name from Breakout Sdn Bhd to Superdough Sdn Bhd, thus expanding into a variety of escape game experiences in the coming years.

The journey of immersive experiences

When they first launched Breakout in Avenue K in 2014, their game was ranked 1st on the Trip Advisor list of places to go for tourists in KL, surpassing KLCC.

The successful approach of this kind of entertainment quickly gained traction, and they proceeded to expand more brands under Superdough, including Hauntu and Spy Game.

Hauntu’s two outlets at The Linc and The Curve.
(Credit: Hauntu Malaysia / Facebook)

Hauntu is a type of escape game that has a blend of live theatre, role play, and storytelling, as well as jump scares here and there. It’s sort of like an interactive Haunted House game, but you gotta finish the game while being possessed. Kidding. Or are we?

READ MORE: TRP Team Had A “Mission” To Steal An Item In A Haunted Hotel In Hauntu [Review]

Spy Game, on the other hand, is similar to Breakout, but with an exciting espionage concept along with fancy gadgets, intricate obstacles, and gripping missions. We felt like Ethan Hunt in the Mission Impossible movies when we tried them out.

READ MORE: TeamTRP Experiences What It’s Like To Be Spies, But Some Of Us Got “Caught”!

Besides that, they also had a virtual game during the pandemic that offered remote workers a teambuilding experience online with their colleagues. They still have it now too, catering especially to international corporations with a global workforce, to have a unique teambuilding activity virtually.

Virtual Breakout game (top left). Settings for different escape rooms (the rest of the pictures).
(Credit: Breakout Malaysia / Facebook)

Here are the brands that they have under Superdough in Malaysia and a variation of escape room themes they have in each outlet. Each theme carries a different storyline with different settings and goals.

Superdough’s Games in Malaysia

  • Breakout @ Avenue K (2014) – 5 Themes
  • Breakout @ NU Sentral (2015) – 7 Themes
  • Hauntu: The Haunted Hotel @ The Linc (2019) – 3 Themes/Episodes
  • Breakout @ The Shore, Melaka (2022) – 4 Themes
  • Spy Game @ The Curve (2023) – 5 Themes/Missions
  • Hauntu: The Mystical Dance Academy @ The Curve (2023) – 1 Theme/Episode

Venturing beyond borders

When their business gained momentum, it also prompted international interest. Coincidentally, a few opportunistic tourists were interested in their concept of entertainment and wanted to bring the idea to their country.

Because of that, the team explored a licensing model by partnering with professionals who could guide them through the process. Finally, they successfully expanded their brand internationally, with audiences in countries like Canada, South Korea, Saudi Arabia, Myanmar and the United States.

So far, they now have around 70 escape room themes around the world with 6 outlets in Malaysia and 5 licensing outlets internationally.

Different themes for different escape rooms.
(Credit: Breakout Malaysia / Facebook)

What makes Superdough different?

By avoiding predictable plots, they ensure each game is an engaging and one-of-a-kind adventure. From chanting mantras to make a table move to developing immersive interactions with NPCs, Superdough’s dedication to elevating sensory engagement sets them apart from other brands.

When you watch boring movies, you roughly can guess the plot already.

We try to avoid these things so the storyline can make the game more engaging.

We want the customers to remember the excitement.

Johnny Ong to TRP

Additionally, after every game, they find it important to ask the customers for feedback. They care about what their customers think and always wants to get better. This ensures their games are relevant, captivating and unforgettable.

We are very particular about our customer’s feedback.

We don’t want to be “syok sendiri” one you know.

It’s important for us to truly get the insight for our customers to be better.

Johnny Ong to TRP

Glory doesn’t come without its challenges

In the beginning, John and Kelly said that the team faced constant scepticism and funding constraints. No one wanted to invest in them because they didn’t understand what they were offering.

The beginning is always hard.

‘What are you doing? We don’t understand you.’

Nobody understands what we’re trying to do and nobody believed in us.

Kelly Low to TRP

But their determination and innovative approach eventually led to the support they needed. They even got support from a few government organizations and plenty of malls reached out to them once people know their brand.

Breakout outlets in Malaysia.
(Credit: @breakoutmy / Instagram)

As they go along, their challenges are different. Their struggle now is to effectively maintain their steady growth without compromising the quality of their business.

As we grow, how can we make sure that you don’t grow too fast that it’s too out of hand.

But at the same time, we don’t want to go too slow that you’re not growing strategically.

It’s a challenge.

Kelly Low to TRP

Future plans & entrepreneurial wisdom

As they move forward, Superdough remains committed to expansion, both locally (currently looking at Penang & Johor) and internationally. They also mentioned that they’re ready to collaborate with any malls aiming to boost their visitor numbers or introduce unique attractions.

Besides that, they are also delving into the immersive experiences scene, branding-wise. For instance, they previously did a pop-up event called Pepsi Lost in Karak last year, an immersive haunted house experience for Pepsi. They invite those interested in creatively promoting their products to partner with them.

Breakout in South Korea (left), Pepsi’s Lost In Karak immersive branding (middle), Breakout in the United States with the name Novus (right).
(Credit: Breakout Malaysia / Facebook)

For valuable advice, Kelly emphasized the importance of identifying a niche market and crafting experiences that cannot be replicated online.

To aspiring entrepreneurs, there’s a growing demand for physical experiential activities among Gen Z and millennials.

They value memorable experiences over material products. I strongly encourage them to venture into this type of entrepreneurship.

Johnny Ong to TRP

Superdough shows how imagination, new ideas and collaboration can make big things happen. They work hard to create exciting experiences that go beyond normal limits, making entertainment better.

As they grow and reach more people, they believe that special memories and strong friendships are the best things their creations can offer.

READ MORE: Team TRP Selesaikan Sebuah ‘Misi’ Sebagai Perisik. Tapi Ada Pula Yang Tertangkap! [Review]

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