You exit an escape room and walk down the street… and everything that you look at feels like it has hidden meaning. You’re hyperaware. It’s an oddly pleasurable feeling.
I suspect that any engaged escape room player knows what I’m talking about. Call it what you want; we call it post-escape room hyperawareness.
After playing more than 700 escape games, we often get asked if we’re bored with escape rooms… and the answer’s still the same as the last time we wrote about it: The highs are higher, the lows are lower, and we really love novelty and thoughtful design.
One thing has changed: we don’t get that hyperaware feeling anymore… and we really miss it.
Where did it go?
I’m not really sure. I’d venture to guess that becoming really practiced at escape rooms, and having learned to parse the signal from the noise in any given room, has focused our awareness. I think in our earlier days of playing, escape rooms would kick our awareness into overdrive.
I also suspect that it might be adrenaline-related. After playing so many, an escape room has to do something really special (and frequently frightening) for us to trigger that particular neurological reward.
What about you?
What’s your escape room play count? Do escape rooms send you on your way in a state of hyperawareness?
I remember the first escape room binge we went on was July 2015, about 4 months before we opened. We had just finished playing three rooms back to back in Las Vegas. We went out to the car that we had rented and I got in the passenger seat. It was a Ford Focus. I looked straight ahead and saw the Ford logo and the word “Focus” the above the glove compartment. I thought to myself, “Its a clue! I need to focus!”
It probably took 5 full seconds before I talked myself out of the fact that it was a clue and this was now real life. I think I said out loud to my husband that I thought I just found a clue in the car and we both laughed out loud. He was experiencing the same thing. A few minutes later, he pointed out an address that was 5335 and wondered if the pattern meant anything.
We get players who come in hyperaware, telling me that they were looking for clues in the bathroom. I always let them know that the last thing we want to do is lock them in the bathroom. After all, there are other people who need to use it. ¯_(ツ)_/¯
One of the reasons why I try to not play too many games. I had it last time after I played a very intense Horror game only with my girlfriend. She was too scared to think straight so I had to pretty much solve all the puzzles. Fortunately they were logical and thus we had a fair chance to finish the game in time. The rush I felt afterwards was similar to my first game(s).
I explained this feeling of hyperawareness recently when I argued with someone who put escape rooms off as merely ‘escapism’. I personally much more prefer to see it as an experience that can (at least temporarily) reshape the perception reality instead of offering just a way to escape it.
Yeah, horror games will really do it, even now.
I agree with you that there’s something special about acting in an experience rather than passively taking it in.