Find The Escape Room Mistakes!
Written by: The Bat
How many times have you been told that there is no wrong way to have fun? Just play the game, it will be great! Those people are wrong. There is a wrong way to play an escape room. But don’t worry too much, many of the things that will lead you down the wrong path are pretty easy to avoid once you are aware of them.
I’ll allow you to pick out a few of them yourself. Read about this escape room terror and try it!
The group enters the venue. They are super excited about the game. It is some of their first time, some have played before. The game master gives the opening speech, instructing them to put their phones in the lockers. One person slides theirs in a pocket, saying their children need to be able to reach them in an emergency. The game master starts to instruct them on the hint system, but one person interrupts. He says that he has played over a gazillion escape rooms and never needs any hints. He won’t be asking for them.
The game master leads them into the room and gameplay begins. Immediately someone recognizes a clue. She begins to race around the room, gathering test tubes from all angles. Then she starts to arrange them on a desk. Everyone else stands there looking confused, but she refuses to tell anyone what she is doing. Finally, they shrug and begin to look for something else to do. After 5 minutes, she tries to put a code into a lock, and it’s wrong! “I thought I had it!” The player says to the group. “You have to do it this way…” After she shows the group, someone else gets an AHA look! “ You did, but you have to order it by the colors on this chart!” The code is found, and the lock is opened. But one player is still upset. He begins to berate his friend for getting the code wrong. “You have to share with us, if you can’t get it right, we will never win.” He goes on and on. The player with their phone checks their texts, for the sixth time. Another player has begun to try to open a particular box. He pries at the box, convinced it should open. The game master comes over the loudspeaker “You need a key for that box.” She says, just as the lid bends, jamming the box shut so it will not open even with the key….
This haphazard group’s game will continue. They may win, but I doubt it. Now, my readers, can you see what they did wrong? Well after this clip, I will tell you, so log your answers now…
1) Leave your reality outside the door!
There is a reason that the game master asks you to leave your phone outside! It is a distraction from the game. You came here to escape reality, to lose yourself in the game. That means that you should do that. It is one thing to tell your kids to call in an emergency. So set your phone only to ring if it is a call, and then ignore it unless it rings! And only do that as a last resort. This is your escape. You do not want the boss, the kids, or anyone else ruining it with “Mom, he hit me!” or “Where is that expense report?”
This was not mentioned in the story, but this also goes for conversations about the real world. There is plenty of time for gossip or retelling of last night’s episode of American Horror Story in the lobby before the game, or at the tea shop after. But not during! It is taking away time from the game and making it harder and harder to lose yourself in the moment.
I have said it before and will say it again, let yourself escape!
2) Do not turn down Game Master help
Asking for hints is not a weakness. It does not mean that you are too stupid to solve a puzzle. It will not make you look bad in front of your girlfriend! It is more stupid to refuse help when it is well-intentioned and offered. I will tell you a secret. The company that runs the escape room wants you to win their game. Statistics show them that the people that win the game are more likely to come back and play another game at that business. So if the game master is giving you extra hints, those hints are not to annoy you or distract you. Also, if you are stuck, and the rest of the group is too, then you are not likely to get the answer by just standing around staring at each other. Ask for help!! Then you can go on with being marvelous, smart, and solving the puzzle!
3) Do not be a hero
You have heard this in movies and team-building activities all your life. Well, it is true in escape rooms too. Will you look like a hero if you solve the entire puzzle yourself and come up with the answer no one else could? Maybe. But if you spend loads of your group’s time trying, not sharing with people who could help you, you will be the opposite of a hero. You will either look like a fool or worse, like a puzzle hog! (Ok, I just made up that term, but it can be a thing!)
I will confess here that I have done exactly that before. I was so sure that I knew how to do one of the puzzles we played at Lost Games. I had seen that type of puzzle before! It must work the same way! And I can impress The Dragon with how amazingly awesome I am….except it wasn’t the same puzzle. I was missing an entire bit that she could have told me about if I had just shared the pieces I was holding instead of guarding them with an ego so desperate.
But I hope my lesson can help you learn. Don’t be a hero, or you might turn into a puzzle hog!
4) Don’t focus on the negative
Some people in your group are not as good at Escape Rooms as you are. Some people are better. And even the best of you will make mistakes (see above). However, it is an entire waste of time to rip those people to shreds in the room.
I am not saying that you cannot correct negative behavior in your teammates. “Hey, share those pieces.” “Please hold the light steady!” “Focus!” Quick reminders like this can keep the game going in the right direction, as long as they are well-received. (Hint, don’t focus on the negative includes don’t be over-defensive.) Whether or not you like what your teammates are doing, address it quickly and politely, and move on with the game. You are here to have fun, not to shred someone’s self-confidence before they even have time to begin to succeed.
This also goes for ganging up on your teammates. If someone has already issued a bit of constructive criticism, you do not need to say it again. The person it is directed towards will either take it to heart or won’t. Repeating it won’t help the situation.
Of course, if your team is one you plan to play with regularly, you may want to have a deconstruction session. You can air your grievances, respectfully, and think of ways to keep them from happening again. Remember to keep it light! It’s a game, after all, not a life-or-death mission.
If the group is just put together as a one-off, it is probably easier and more fun to just let it go!
Yes, I couldn’t resist!
5) Do not break the Room!
Most intros will tell you to be gentle with the props. You will not have to force anything. If you can’t move it with two fingers, it is not meant to be moved. Of course, some rooms will have exceptions to this. Hopefully, they will warn you of these. If they are a good escape room, they will warn you of these, or at least have the game master watching to help when you are too careful.
But back on track, if you are too rough with the props, you will break them. Think about it. The box you are forcing open has been opened and closed several times that day alone. The hinges are weak. The wood is worn. Do you want to smack it against that desk? It is going to break! You are not going to be able to complete that puzzle, the game may have to be paused to clean up your mess, and you will look like a major jerk.
This is not a wreck room! Don’t break it!
So did you find all the mistakes? You may have made them yourself, or seen your friends make them during games in the past. You will have more fun if you don’t make them in the future. But there is only one rule to take seriously…..
Don’t take yourself too seriously! This is a game!! Relax!!
Share your thoughts!