1. What a room escape is
If you’re unfamiliar with the concept, you should start by checking out our “What is a room escape” post. It should answer all of your questions… and probably a few you didn’t think to ask.
2. They’re usually hard… You’ll probably lose
Most of these games are really challenging. That’s part of what makes them fun. So many things in this world are rubberized and give out participation medals; it’s fun to do something where it is likely that you won’t succeed, but you’ll still have fun.
3. It’s all about the people you play with
You can win or lose these games before they start, just based on your team.
You need a good mix of smart people who are packing different kinds of smart. More often than not, a group consisting of a talented artist, writer, programmer, and sales person will be more successful than a group of colleagues who all do the same thing, regardless of how brilliant they are.
You’re also going to need people who can work well together. Leave the crazy friends who must be the center of attention at home.
4. You can overdress for an escape game
Escape rooms are tactile and interactive. You’ll be moving around a lot, picking things up, and figuring out how things work.
It’s possible that a player might have to crawl or climb.
Dress comfortably and wear comfy shoes.
5. An escape room is a crappy first date
First dates bring enough pressure to begin with. There’s no need to bring a date to a game that’s designed to add more pressure.
6. Pre-Game Over caffeine
If you’ve put together a group where not everyone knows each other, then you should gather beforehand. It’s better to meet when the timer isn’t counting down.
While it’s generally more comfortable to play with people you know, if you’re booking tickets into a public time slot, you might be meeting your teammates moments before the game begins.
Either way, don’t be the player who arrives intoxicated. Grab a coffee or a snack ahead of time and save the drinking for after the game.
7. Dive in
When you enter the game, start playing: Search things, open things, move things, look for anything that could be even remotely interesting or unusual.
If you’re standing there with your hands in your pockets staring at other people playing the game, then you’re doing it wrong. Go on… Have some fun.
8. Secrets are no fun
Especially when you’re playing a team game. Seriously, you win and lose with your team. The guy (and it’s always a guy) who thinks he can “win” more than his team can is an idiot.
9. For 1 hour, your pockets don’t exist
Pockets are great! They are super useful and they store things that we need but don’t want to hold. But… forget they exist for the hour that you’re in an escape room. If you put something important in your pocket and forget that it’s there, your team will never escape, and that is a lame way to lose.
10. Don’t be a barbarian
This should go without saying, but someone put hard work and money into that room escape that you’re playing; treat it accordingly.
11. Don’t be shy
Quiet people have just as much to offer as the loud ones. You’re going to need to speak up; it doesn’t matter if you have the right answer if it isn’t applied. (This is a good life lesson.)
12. Shut up and listen
Loud folks like me need to try shutting up. Being loud doesn’t make you correct. Let others speak. (Also a good life lesson.)
13. Try obvious answers before doing weird stuff
If you’ve solved a puzzle (or think you’ve solved one), try the solution you have before you start applying strange logic to it. A good room has solid cause and effect chains; don’t overthink it. That’s a fast way to get yourself into trouble.
14. Surrender to the experience
A room escape is a game. If you aren’t going to allow yourself to have fun… then you won’t. And you’ll probably ruin someone else’s time. If you’re the type of snarky jackass who can’t surrender to the experience, do everyone a favor and stay home.
15. Celebrate with your people
However the game plays out, go out as a team afterwards. Share your experiences with your friends.
A room escape is best when shared with people you care about. Enjoy them.
For more tips, check out our Player Tips section.
My sister loves puzzles and recently she has been thinking about doing some escape room challenges. I liked that you talked about how you should speak up even if you are shy. My sister is pretty shy and that would be a good thing for her to remember.
Another tip would be to not boss people around and be nice to your teammates. I played a room before where there were 4 of us who went together and ended up teamed up with 3 others. One of those men was very bossy, rude, snapped at us, and acted like he knew everything. We did end up escaping with 20 seconds to spare, but we were hung up for a good 10 minutes on a tangent of his that ended up being the wrong path.
it seems like escape games might slowly work to shame those bossy know-it-alls into better group behavior. it may be the service to the cosmos that these uniquely social games were meant for. hopefully that guy learned his lesson……over the last 20 years, with video games and the internet being generally solitary activities, many people seem to need to be retrained in how to play nice with others…….. ahhh, escape games will solve all our problems.
A gamemaster was telling me about a big family where there was a really bossy older brother who was disregarding everyone’s correct thoughts and throwing his weight around pushing bad ideas on everyone. When they failed horribly, he asked the GM how they could improve their performance. She said something like, “You would have done better if you communicated more and listened to each other.” He immediately turned to his family and said, “See! I told you if you listened to me, we would have won.”
I don’t know if an hour of play can break a person of a lifetime of bad behavior… But I hope it can help some folks.