What NOTs and To DOs: Your Escape Room Game Plan

What is your understanding of an escape room game scenario? Have you thought about it before you jump straight into a game? Do you know what you are getting yourself in for?

Generally, anyone these days can explain, if not in detail then vaguely, what an escape room is. But not everyone can tell you what not to do and definitely to do.

In preparation mode

What type of person are you? Do you fly by the seat of your pants, or are you a cautious sort? What type of people will you be taking with you on your adventure into the unknown — the game?

You don’t need a certain type of people per se, but it does help if some of your group can perform certain roles.

To-Do 1: organise your team with a project manager, artefacts manager, and a timekeeper. It can be the same person if you wish. The person’s or people’s tasks will be to keep the game flowing, keep an eye on the time and organise/keep track of all the clues and paraphernalia.

Everyone else can be contributing members of the team.

What-Not 1: do not hold onto an object as you walk around without telling your team. When you find a clue, inform your artefacts cataloguer and project manager. The project manager will inform the room, like a town crier of yesteryear. The artefacts cataloguer will keep track of the object while the rest of you figure out how to use it.

To-Do 2: Listen to your crafty instructor prior to gameplay. They might be hiding clues within the script of information they provide you.

What-Not 2: Don’t think that everything in the room will play a part in the equation. There will be objects that have nothing to do with the game.

To-Do 3: Know what type of puzzles, patterns, locks and codes are often used in escape games, e.g. missing word or maze puzzles, shapes and colours, combination locks, morse code, braille, etc.

What-Not 3: Remember that a game is designed to account for the average person’s intelligence. Don’t overcomplicate the matter. Unless it is the theme of the game, you are not entering Wonderland through the rabbit hole.

In play mode

Once inside the room, the door is shut, and the clock begins its countdown…the pressure is on. Is it hot in there, or is that just your team’s collective brainpower you feel radiating around you?

To-Do 4: Set everyone to clue hunting immediately. When you have found the obvious clues, puzzles, etc. give them to/inform the artefact cataloguer. Once the room has been swept for objects, start working your way to understanding the objects and how they might fit into the overall puzzle.

What-Not 4: Once a clue has been utilised, don’t assume it will be of further use. A game usually will not reuse clues, e.g. one key will open only one lock. You may ask this question of the instructor prior to the game.

To-Do 5: Look under, over, between everything possible.

What-Not 5: Taking apart an antique grandfather clock, because you think there might be something hidden in the mechanism is a big no-no. The game will not be challenging you to that level. But the good news is that you might have a future in espionage if that is how you think. Talk to your boss after the game.

To-Do 6: When the game flow stops, focus on what has stopped you. Is there a lock that should be opening with your key or combination? Have someone else give it a try too before moving on to something else.

What-Not 6: Do not get stuck on a missing bit of info. The answer may not have been revealed yet. Let the project manager know. They will shout it out to everyone to be on the lookout.

To-Do 7: Ascertain what type of information is missing, e.g. a numerical digit for a combination lock, a word or phrase from a riddle, or an object you need to retrieve another object, etc.

What-Not 7: don’t discount your senses. The game might use full immersion tactics, such as plant clues using sounds and smells, lighting and perception illusions.

To-Do 8: Have fun and rise to the challenges within the room. Participate. There is something for everyone in the team to contribute.

What-Not 8: Spoilers. Don’t tell anyone in the lobby, at home, or online, etc. the game’s secrets. Keep it real for everyone.

In conclusion

Escape rooms have become ever-popular, and more game scenarios are being created. If you have never tried an escape game or it has been a while since your last adventure, give it a go.

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