Having held its grand opening on Saturday, October 10th, the first North American location of Boda Borg has been attracting customers from all over the state for over three weeks now. With coverage from both WCVB, and National Public Radio, it is safe to say word of Malden’s newest attraction has been reaching the attention of many people. Originating from Sweden, Boda Borg offers indoor “quests” in varying degrees of both physical and mental difficulty, creating a unique experience that is capable of challenging even the most prepared of individuals.
Malden’s Boda Borg currently offers 16 different quests, each of which is home to multiple rooms and therefore various challenges for people to tackle. There are three color-coded categories of challenges an attendee at Boda Borg can attempt: green, red, and black. Green is handicapped accessible and does not require physical activity, just mental prowess. Red is both mental and physical, but keeps physical activity relatively low with simple activities like crawling. Black is the most physical quest to attempt, with activities rivaling that of some of the challenges present in the “American Ninja Warrior” obstacle course on television. Boda Borg does require a team, with a minimal of three people and a maximum of five per quest. Possibly the biggest catch of Boda Borg, is that people must figure out on their own how to complete a quest; often the only prerequisite hints people have come from the name of the quest itself. Employees work as quest guides, giving aid to those who are truly stumped, but in the end people are responsible to complete the quest on their own.
Blue and Gold member Chaimae Eladlouni is currently employed at Malden’s Boda Borg, and offers an insight to the work environment there. Describing the atmosphere of the location as “fun and interesting,” Eladlouni enjoys greeting guests and talking to people about the quests they have embarked on. She continues, explaining that “the faces of people who get so excited when they complete a quest has to be one of the best parts working [at Boda Borg.]” Eladlouni overall describes Boda Borg as “an awesome place,” stating that “there’s something [there] for everyone, so make sure [you] bring your friends and quest, you’ll [surely] come back for more.”
This claim by Eladlouni is not at all far fetched, as literally thousands of participants have flooded into the location just in the few weeks Boda Borg has been open, with many being hooked after the first hour or so of questing. Any prior skepticism most likely comes down to the unfamiliarity of the concept of questing challenges. As Chad Ellis (the owner of the North American Boda Borg) explains, “if you don’t experience quests, it’s very difficult to understand what they are. Explaining them in words is very hard. When you do it, then you experience it, then you get it.” This idea is reflected in Boda Borg’s company tagline: “Experience the quest” or as Ellis jokingly suggests, “frustrating fun.”
It is often this frustration that often keeps participants coming back for more, as Ellis explains, “somehow no matter how many times people fail it’s just really engaging and once they get it you hear this shriek of happiness from inside the room.” Boda Borg at its highest difficulties demands said engagement, as “you really use your brain and your body together. Every quest is different. Every challenge is different. Some of them are silly, some of them are dramatic, some of them are physically difficult and some of them are trivial but figuring out what you’re supposed to do is really hard and you have to look for clues everywhere.” Ellis goes on to set apart Boda Borg from other room escapes, illustrating how “you have all of these unfamiliar challenges with no structure and no conventional puzzles. If you do a room escape it’s full of conventional puzzles like word puzzles and mathematical puzzles. Here, you’re just in a room and you figure it out, do what you want to.”
Aside from the uniqueness of each Boda Borg challenge, Ellis considers the teamwork that each quest demands a special attribute of the Boda Borg experience. “There are so many activities we do as adults where we are each doing our own thing and I think part of what makes Boda Borg so special is that never happens here. Every quest and every challenge has to be solved by the team.” Individual problem solving simply does not happen at Boda Borg and teams often feel rewarded after exerting collective physical and mental dexterity in their quests. “There’s no instruction so it makes you engage in a different way. You have to collaborate with each other and everyone has their moments of being a hero.”
Ellis has high expectations for Malden’s Boda Borg, explaining that “malden is [already heading in a] great trajectory, [he hopes] Boda Borg [can become] a part of that.” Determined to become a larger, more contributing part of the Malden community, Ellis believes that “[we at Boda Borg] bring a lot of people in and over the long term, and I would think that would help revitalize the retail sector in malden. If you have this large influx of people, [it will] help bring in more interesting retail over time.” Ellis is not only interested in the growth of Boda Borg, but in the growth of Malden as a whole, explaining that “we’re not transforming Malden, we want to be part of the transformation that’s already happening in Malden.” Experience Boda Borg at their location on 90 Pleasant Street in Malden, MA.
For a Facebook photo gallery showing off Malden's Boda Borg, click here