Be Kind to your Game Master, the Key You’ll Find
Written by: The Bat
Wait what key!? Well, the key to having an amazing experience.
Dragon: Where there is a key and there is a keyhole. Kindness is the key. Being an asshole on the other hand well the word gives you a hint… Careful or you might get trapped without the key to unlocking the keyhole to victory.
Whether praising a good game master or complaining about a bad one, escape room enthusiasts everywhere agree that a game master can make or break an experience. And, my Readers, I fully support that opinion. Think about it:
They set the scene
Your game master presents you to your room for the first time. They may or may not give an intro, or play a character. That, of course, is not their choice, but the venue’s. However, how they do any of those activities can set the scene for your game. They can mumble a couple of sentences and bolt out the door, or they can speak clearly, make well-timed jokes, and even drop a start-off hint if they want. One of the best game masters I have ever had spoke to us and got our belongings stowed away, then disappeared for a minute and came back in a hospital gown, playing a crazy scared mental patient as she showed us into our room! And from the moment she changed, she didn’t break character until the final lock was open! That game was one of the best we have played yet.
They give the hints
Once your game starts, no matter how smart players are, it is almost inevitable that they will need a hint now and again. The game master is in charge of giving these hints. They will sometimes have prewritten hint systems, and depending on the venue, their hands might be tied as to how the hints are given. But that does not stop a game master from being able to offer extra help to their favorite groups. It’s only practical. When you watch your favorite show, you will pay more attention, yell at the screen, and be invested. And why is that your favorite show? A lot of times it is because you like the characters. If you become your game master’s favorite characters, they will be watching your game closer, probably wishing they could give the hints before you even ask, because they want you to succeed!
They have the answers
After the game, the game master will be the one to rescue you and set your questions to rest. They probably do not have time to let you try to figure it out on your own, but they will usually have time to answer some questions and give you the answers you didn’t have time to figure out. But will they give you a thorough explanation? Or blurt out the answers and push you out the door? Will you go home at peace, or have nightmares about how they got the answer to that final puzzle?
To some extent, that is up to you! While you cannot control the quality of your game master’s job performance, you can control their opinion of you. Here are a few ways to leave a positive impression on your game master:
1. Be ready to play on time!
This does not just mean showing up on time. This means leaving time to sign waivers, use the restrooms, and put your stuff away. And keep an eye on your time. Having been a game master for a few years, I can tell you it is super annoying to see a group take selfies in the lobby for 10 minutes, and then rush to the bathroom 1 minute before game time.
2. Be attentive when they talk to you
No one likes to be ignored or talked over. You may have heard the escape room rules over and over again, to the point where you can recite them as the game master talks. No harm in making a joke about that, or telling the game master you are an experienced player. But do not ignore them, talk through their speech or start messing with the props while they are talking. It would be rude in a conversation with your friends, it is rude now.
3. Help them give you good hints
Many of you already know this, but your game master is watching your game through a set of cctv systems installed by the venue. In my experience, there are limitations to what they can see through these cameras. It will help them if you show your work! Write big on the whiteboard, step away slightly from your half-completed puzzle on the table. If they tell you they can hear you, there is no problem asking specific questions about what you need.
4. Be understanding
Game masters, while their title says master, are not in charge of how your game was designed. They are not in charge of how the venue is run. They are often not in charge of whether or not a broken puzzle is fixed or redesigned, and how close together the games are scheduled. So when the hints all sound prewritten, they may be under a rule to only use those hints. If they are trying to hurry after a game, it may be because another group is waiting for their scheduled time. If you are understanding with them, they will be understanding with you.
Do all of these items seem to have a common theme? They should! It all goes back to treating others as you would like to be treated. Be decent to your game masters, and going with the idea that they are a good game master that cares about their job, they will be good to you.
One small disclaimer: This may seem obvious but not all game masters care about their job. There are some that are in it for the paycheck and are probably on their phones the entire time. If you feel like you have been good to them and they are ignoring you, there is nothing wrong with informing a manager and asking for a refund. You have rights as a player!