At Thingamajig & Doohickey, players create comically complex Rube Goldberg machines to complete simple tasks. The more needlessly complicated your machine is, the higher you score.
Ravenchase Adventures, the company behind several Richmond escape rooms such as Escape Room RVA and Warehouse 29, are bringing a fresh business idea to the RVA area. Their newest business, Thingamajig & Doohickey, opened at Stony Point Fashion Park on November 29. It provides a new take on creative group exercises by challenging customers to create their very own Rube Goldberg Machine.
A business based on Rube Goldberg Machines (devices designed to complete simple tasks in unnecessarily complex and comical ways, named after an early 20th century cartoonist who drew thousands of them) is a brand new idea to Richmond. T&D General Manager Bobby Steele says their business is the only one that he knows about of its kind.
“It’s just not something you’d really see that often, and we think there’s a demand for it,” said Steele.
Customers can work alone or in groups of up to eight people. They pay by the hour, and are challenged to build as complex of a machine as possible using the parts provided in their workspace. T&D lets players choose from a few different tasks for their machines to accomplish, such as pressing a button, or placing a hat on top of a mannequin’s head. Players also have a wide array of parts at their disposal to build with. Items range from common things like marbles and wooden blocks to gag-items like wind-up toys and boxing gloves.
“A lot of it was just looking at common items used [in Youtube videos],” said Steele. “We’re always seeing dominoes, we’re always seeing tracks. But some of them we just thought: ‘what would be fun?’”
At the end of a player’s time, their machine is scored based on its complexity, and the score is posted on the leaderboard at the front desk. Players are encouraged to compete against each other for the highest score possible.
Thingamajig & Doohickey introduces a brand new concept to many people, so they also show an introduction video to new players to make sure they understand the basics. This way, even new players are usually able to complete working machines in about an hour. Steele says many players create machines that work in unexpected or unique ways.
“I’ve been really impressed,” said Steele. “Especially some of the younger kids. Some of their ingenuity is…pretty impressive.”
The idea for Thingamajig & Doohickey came from Ravenchase’s desire to let people come up with creative solutions to problems.
“We were trying to force people out of their comfort zone and do a creative engineering exercise,” said Steele. “People really like to be challenged in that way…and there’s really very few mediums that actually do that sort of thing.”
Thingamajig & Doohickey is open from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. between Monday and Saturday, and from 12 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sundays. More information can be found on their website, https://tdrva.com/
Photos via Thingamajig & Doohickey/Facebook