5 Rules For Actors in Room Escapes [Design Tips]

There are dos and don’ts for playing an escape room with a live actor.

Actors also need to be mindful of how they interact with escape room players.

1: We don’t know you or your character

You look great. Your costume looks great. You’ve clearly committed to your character… but who the hell are you? And why are you suddenly in control of my life?

Even for an experienced room escaper, actors can be off-putting. At this point, they aren’t common in room escapes and each interaction with an actor is different.

You have to build trust.

To do that, you have to build your character for us and you have to do that quickly. We have to learn that you aren’t harmful.

Detailed zombie makeup on a male actor. He looks very undead.
Photo from Seth A. Wolfson, Make-Up FX artist and escape room owner (not an actual escape room actor)

2: Most of us aren’t actors

You’re good at what you do. You probably studied acting… we haven’t. Most of us have never acted in something scripted, let alone attempted improv. We don’t know about “yes and.”

You’re going to have to play to us because most of us can’t play to you.

3: Be mindful of all of us

Every team has loud individuals who stand out and grab your attention. That doesn’t mean that the rest of the team isn’t looking to interact with you. Others may simply be more shy about it.

On the flip side, some of us might not want anything to do with you. You have to read your audience. In order to do that, you have to pay attention to every single person.

4: Don’t devour our time

When we’re on the clock, your monologues become painful to listen to.

We can see that you’re acting your ass off, but we’re having a hard time paying attention to you because we can see a puzzle over your shoulder and all we want to do is solve it.

Tell your story. Do your thing. But please, for the love of puzzles, do it quickly.

5: You have the ability to make or break our game

You are completely in charge of our game. If you don’t want us to win, then you can almost certainly prevent us from winning. If you don’t want us to have a good time, then we are likely in for a pretty miserable hour.

This power is in your hands and there are times when it’s completely acceptable to exercise it.

  • A belligerent group of drunks? Mess with them.
  • A player harasses you? Kick him out.

Most people like us are just looking for a good time. If our team plays a little loose with the rules at first, that doesn’t mean we automatically deserve punishment.

Be especially mindful of individually ticketed mixed teams. If a couple of people are misbehaving that doesn’t mean that all of us should suffer your wrath.

Games with actors can be a wonderful thing, but they can become demeaning for the players when the actor goes out of their way to mock or hinder the team.

Use your power wisely and with restraint.

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