The Power of Play
By David and Lisa Spira Everything we do is predicated on a single idea: We believe in the transformative, timeless, and cross-culture power of play. Pick any time in history and any place on earth; if humans were present so was play. Play is fundamental, necessary, and powerful. Vo-Zone facilities are an embodiment of the values that we support on a daily basis.
Change Through Play
The Vo-Zone’s efforts to build community, provide opportunity, and foster hope through play have been a source of inspiration for us. Game design is all about building environments and mechanics that give your players a break from reality and a chance to learn and explore their own capabilities.
The escape room and immersive gaming world has long been shifting towards the theatrical with games that explore the human condition, and help each individual player better understand their capabilities in this world. The safety of a game environment provides an incredible freedom to step outside of your comfort zone. When it’s done well, the players learn things about themselves without trying or even realizing what has happened.
Coach Ty and his team have been doing this for years through several locations. They design games that drive empathy, build connection, and foster relationships that otherwise wouldn’t exist.
Mission Centric Leadership
The Vo-Zone facility design didn’t happen by accident. It’s the result of almost two decades of leadership from Ty Cobb. We’ve gotten to know Coach Ty over the past three years, and a few things about him have drawn us into the orbit of his work.
Ty has relentlessly pursued his mission to help heal his community through play. As dedicated as he is to his mission, he approaches it with the humility of a journeyman, always learning and willing to adapt. Ty knows when to step back and let his people execute on the shared vision that he has created.
This constellation of attributes is what pulled us in and compelled us to support Ty. So many seek support, but don’t know how to make the most of it when they have it. Ty does.
Rehabilitation Through Play
It is not only possible to build systems of rehabilitation through play, it’s wise and necessary. As a society we have endured over a century of applying rigid legal structures to rehabilitation with limited success to the frustration of all parties. The game designer’s time has arrived.
The Escape Room area in each Vo-Zone facility will also be used for rehabilitation of youth who are assigned to the Judicial Program. While games are traditionally associated purely with fun, we’ve seen incredible advancements in gaming as the designers and concepts mature. Games are more than capable of carrying potent messages. Traditional forms of juvenile rehabilitation need a game designer. All too often we see rehab programs that revolve around the same roundtables and conversations. This kind of outreach is understandable because it is easy, even if it isn’t effective. Suspending a student just gives them time to silently stew in their anger. It lacks effort. No matter how well-intentioned a roundtable or lecture is, it’s easy for that messaging to fail to resonate because it’s external.
In our nearly 1,000 escape games played, spanning 25 US states and more than a dozen nations, Vo-Zone is the only place that we’ve encountered that is ready to tackle these challenges at an unprecedented scale. The work is hard, but the Vo-Zone team eagerly embrace it.