5 questions answered for Escape Room beginners – #4 is very important!

I’d like to tell you a story. 10 weeks ago, I was the Managing Director of a £10m business where I’d worked for 11 years and had over 250 staff. Today, I have no staff, and I spent the morning cleaning a prison toilet. Now to be fair, that was a prop for our next game but you get the point I hope. Things for me have changed

Along with my brother, I now run an Escape Room business on Shirley High Street in Southampton called Exciting Escapes. Our aim is to make sure that the hour our customers spend with us is the most fun hour they’ve had in a long time. We want it to be something they remember, and something they tell their friends about

Our lovely new business has now been open for 3 weeks, 5 days and about 10 hours. Even in that short time we’ve heard several questions time and again and I wanted to share with you answers to some of these. At the same time, I want to address some of the misconceptions about what an Escape Room experience is.


1. What is it?

Probably the biggest challenge that any Escape Room beginner faces is understanding what on earth it is they are thinking of doing. If I were to walk out of our shop right now and stop 100 people in the street and ask them:

“Excuse me sir/madam, could you tell me what an Escape Room is?”

  • About 60 would go on to describe a panic room (like in the Jodie Foster film)
  • About 30 would look at you blankly and say “I don’t know”
  • And (at most) 10 would have heard of them, normally “I’ve seen something on Facebook” or “A mate of mine did one in Amsterdam…”

So, for beginners, lesson number one is often just trying to understand what it’s all about! We’ve had lots of conversations with potential customers over the last few weeks and we tend to say something along the lines of;

“It is a little bit like the Crystal Maze. You go into a room as a team of up to 6 people and have to work together to solve puzzles and clues and complete your mission within 60 minutes”.

If people haven’t heard of the Crystal Maze I sometimes try, it’s a bit like:

“the Krypton Factor” or maybe even (at a stretch) “Challenge Annika”

In fact, thinking about it, I really need to work on my references, stop showing my age, and think of something clever which isn’t a TV show from the 70s or 80s!


2. Is it scary?

Lots of new customers have asked us this question over the last few weeks. We assure all of them that they will be the only people in the room. There are no actors, extras, zombies, vampires, werewolves or anything else that jumps out at them! I think some of this misconception is based on the excellent “Big Bang Theory” episode which had a zombie in it.

Whilst we like the idea of a more adult or scary type theme one day, as we start out we want to have as broad an appeal as possible. In our Southampton site, we have the capacity for 5 rooms so we may well increase the scary quotient in the future…watch this space!


3. Will I be locked in?

There are quite a few different terms to describe the industry that we are in – escape room, escape the room, exit game, escape game etc. Most of them are based on getting out or getting free. Most of the imagery that Escape Room companies use involves doors and locks and keys. So by its definition people’s expectation is that they are somehow trapped in or locked in.

At Exciting Escapes, we don’t actually lock the exit. We make it clear in the briefing that the door is unlocked and anyone can leave at any point. We do say, however, that if they do walk through the door before completing their mission then they forfeit the game.


4. What happens if I don’t make it out in time?

Unfortunately, we have little choice here and if you run out of time the doors are then locked and you are stuck in. Forever.

The above is of course not true. If the team runs out of time we will occasionally give them a little bit longer to complete the room (subsequent bookings permitting), but then if time runs out we start the de-brief. We always conduct the de-brief in the room itself, an excellent way to give feedback about the good stuff (and the not so good stuff!) that they did in the room.

However, just to be clear once more, if you don’t get out in 60 minutes we do let you out!


5. Does it matter that I haven’t done one before?

In all of our briefings we say whether you’ve done a room before or not it’s all good! As we said in point 1 above, around 90% of people who play so many people are first-timers it’s important the games are designed with that in mind. You don’t need any prior knowledge or experience to successfully complete a room.
So nearly 4 weeks in and we have already had loads of great customer feedback from beginners – 100% 5 star reviews so far on Facebook, Google and TripAdvisor. But what do you think? I hope there are quite a few potential first timers reading this, maybe there is a question I haven’t addressed? You can find our FAQs on the website or please just give us a call!


Peter Gale