If only the writers put in the same level of effort as the props and makeup teams.
Didn’t I see that on The Big Bang Theory?
A few months ago The Big Bang Theory aired an episode called The Intimacy Acceleration; I’ve been hearing about it regularly ever since because it featured a room escape subplot.
Spoiler time… Don’t worry you’re not missing much
They staged a cool-looking escape game, complete with a zombie a la Room Escape Adventures (unlike the real zombie escapes, this one is on an stupidly short chain). They threw a quartet into it, and poof! They got out in 6 minutes because our characters are just the smartest… Even though it was clear that two of the characters were totally useless due to their fear of the zombie. After 8.5 seasons one would think that their writers would have gotten tired of throwaway jokes pointing out that their characters are smart.
How could this have been better?
It could have reflected reality a little bit.
It takes about 5 minutes for first-time escape game players to get their feet under them. Plus, that’s a huge room with a ton of stuff in it. It would be very hard to determine what items are actually puzzle elements. That’s even tougher when there’s a horror element.
Horror themed games have a way of throwing otherwise smart people way off their game. The zombie’s chain was so damn short that he was prop. In the real zombie game, the zombie can charge at you, and let me assure you that actor or not, a charging zombie makes easy puzzles a lot harder.
Sometimes being overly experienced in a field really gets in the way of solving puzzles (The Outside Knowledge Trap). They could have had a ton of fun with this.
That final puzzle is legitimately dumb. If they were competent escape game players they would have checked behind the pictures immediately. No escape game designer hides the door key like that… Not even the bad games are that stupid.
Most importantly, my favorite thing about escape games is how the great ones are filled with puzzles that take different kinds of smarts to solve. What’s easy for one player is impossible for another. They could have done something far more poignant by having the whole gang stumped on a final puzzle and having Penny (the only non-genius on the show) find the solution.
That’s how these things often go in real life. Overthinking is a big problem for smart people in escape games.
Image via The Big Theory Wiki