You’re trapped inside a room. Clues and puzzles are hidden throughout. You have one hour to escape.
Sounds pretty awesome — unless this was your actual reality, then maybe not. Escape rooms are an interactive adventure where you solve your way out of a mystery, horror scene, movie excerpt or another situation. It’s an awesome way for families, coworkers and friends to put their problem-solving skills to the test.
Exit Strategy Games will keep you on your toes through various escape room games. But there are a few do’s and don’ts you need to be aware of if you want to stay alive — we mean, if you want to have a good time, that is.
A Quick Glance Back in Time
Escape rooms are related to the oh-so-famous haunted houses, scavenger hunts and puzzle quests. Still, they have actually evolved from several concepts instead of coming about from a single brilliant idea. In the 1980s and 1990s, television stations in the United Kingdom began broadcasting shows that were a similar concept to escape rooms.
The 1990s also saw the release of 3D video games that were like room puzzles — which later evolved into escape room video games by the early 2000s. Players had to solve various mysteries by communicating with characters in the game to escape to the next level.
Between 2004 and 2013, the idea of escape rooms began to surface into reality starting in Japan, then Hungary and then to the U.S. By 2015, the term “escape room” became more solidified and more businesses began to form around the unique concept.
An Inside Look at the Do’s and Don’ts
Whether it’s your first time in an escape room or you’re an avid enthusiast, you need to follow particular etiquette to ensure a good time. No one likes the person who ruins it for everyone else because they are inconsiderate. Don’t be that person.
Here are some tips on what you should and shouldn’t do when you’re searching for a serial killer, tracking down an evil granny or looking for a sneaky spy.
DO: Your Research on What Kind of Escape Room Experience You Want
Are you into the blood and gore and all things scary? Or is a virtual reality more your style? It’s important to narrow down what experiences you like because it can impact other aspects of the game. If you’re bringing your family out for a fun night, maybe less terrifying and more exciting scenes are what you want.
Different escape rooms have varying levels of difficulty. Depending on the one you choose, you and your team can be faced with a range of challenges — some simple and some complicated. For example, many rooms involve linear progression where one clue will lead to the next, and so on until you solve the puzzle. You must solve the mystery in a particular sequence, making them ideal for first-time players.
Other scenarios have your team solve various puzzles at once, making it more challenging to determine how they fit together. These are called non-linear escape rooms and are more complex as well as time-consuming. It can be helpful to divide your team to tackle various clues.
An even trickier thing to determine ahead of time is whether or not your chosen escape room is scavenger heavy and/or filled with many red herrings. Some escape rooms will send you on a mad dash to look in every nook and cranny to discover every tiny little intricate piece of the puzzle. If you have a good scavenger on your team, this may be the room for you. If you and your team hate scavenging, a less scavenge heavy room might be preferred. Then there are the dreaded red herrings. Some escape rooms are filled with them, while others shy away from this often complained about escape room feature.
Whether the escape room is a linear or non-linear escape room experience is not always easy to find out. A quick email or call to the escape room venue can help you narrow down what escape room experiences they offer and which room will work for you. You can also ask about scavenging and red herrings, although the escape room venue might not be as loose lipped about that information. In that case, a quick search of online reviews before you book can quickly reveal if your chosen escape room is heavy on scavenging or red herrings.
DON’T: Bring Kids Who Won’t Appreciate the Escape Room Experience
Escape rooms are heaps of fun for entire families. People of all ages can enjoy the immersive experience, but you want to make sure your children understand the game. If they aren’t excited or don’t know what’s going on, it may not be fun. You also don’t want to choose a theme that may scare your kids.
Participating in an escape room can be a great activity for families. The game needs cooperation from each team member to reach your final destination. It can teach children how to work with others and communicate their findings. Get your kids involved to solve puzzles, discover clues and look for hidden hints. It can be an exciting adventure for everyone.
Have them read clues and think for themselves. Escape room games can also teach them to remain calm in stressful situations. You can all work together to accomplish the perfect team-building activity, but make sure your kids are ready for what’s in store.
DO: Think About the Crew You Are Escaping With
Are you heading inside an escape room with a group of coworkers, your family, your closest friends, or new friends you just met? Who you choose to go with can make all the difference in your experience. The idea of the game is to work together as a group to solve a mind-boggling puzzle.
It will be interesting to see your coworkers cope. Being in an escape room immediately clicks on the stress factor for almost every participant. Because you’re timed, have limited clues and have to rely on others for success, you can see how people operate in a team. Is it a sign of how they will perform at work?
Playing with your family will also show the best and worst sides of everyone’s personality. However, it can also be the perfect time to work together. Especially as a family, you know each other’s strengths and weaknesses. Finding clues and solving mysteries may be easier than you thought.
If you’re going with your closest friends, it can be a fun experience full of laughter and jokes. You’ll get to see how some of your best pals think and how some crumble under pressure. If it’s a new friendship, go ahead and test those ties of friendship to see if they can make it into your inner circle, the best way to do that is to see if your new friendship can survive an escape room.
Even if you’re in a relationship, participating in an escape room can help you see how your significant other responds to stress, fear and leadership. It’s an experience where you can help each other and see if you’re compatible. If you start by working together, that can be an assuring sign.
DON’T: Be Inconsiderate and Break the Props
No one likes a person who’s inconsiderate toward the people and things around them. Most items in an escape room will move with ease when you want to see what’s hidden behind a bookshelf or discover what’s inside a chest. But if something isn’t moving, don’t force all your weight on it. Chances are, it’s not supposed to move. If the Game Master explains which areas to stay away from, be respectful.
Escape rooms are usually labors of love. Breaking the props ruins the experience for you and others, and it’s an expensive repair for someone who is trying to share their joy with you. Unless you are given specific tasks and tools to open something, don’t waste your time taking apart the room.
Being a respectful participant also means you shouldn’t climb on the furniture. Yes, it’s something we must remind you of. All the clues you need will be in reach, so don’t worry about climbing onto chairs, flipping over desks or jumping onto a torture table — as fun as that may sound.
DO: Communicate to Win
Communication is often the most overlooked part of beating in an escape room. It’s vital to be a team player to solve puzzles and reach your goal within the allotted time. While your first reaction may be to look for intricate tipoffs, the best thing you and your team can do is think simply and not overanalyze. Search for clues and items when you first arrive, then organize them in one area to see the bigger picture. Sometimes it’s worth working backward from what’s stopping you, too.
Communication begins by indicating team roles. Try assigning a project manager to keep a grip on the bigger picture. Poor communication is what leads to failure.
DON’T: Touch What You’re Not Supposed To
Although an escape room is an interactive experience, don’t touch anything with a “Do Not Touch” sticker on it. Remember learning that in elementary school and when visiting the museums on class trips? The same applies here, no matter how much you want to.
Items like cameras, props, speakers, light switches and outlets often have signs not to be touched. Even though we are trying to confuse you, we aren’t tricking you with our signs.
Visit Exit Strategy Games for a Fun Time
Exit Strategy Games is an immersive experience where you can challenge yourself in uniquely themed escape rooms. Go all out for the creepy and bloody scenes or stick to a more fun-filled adventure. We offer private games and escape rooms for first-timers and enthusiasts in the Elk Grove area, as well as the surrounding parts of Sacramento, California.
Put your skills to the ultimate escape room test or contact us online to learn more about what we offer. Experience our torture chamber or choose to play the “game within a game” to truly psych yourself out.