A recurring and simple issue that we have seen in countless escape rooms over the years is their
use misuse of telephones.
In almost all cases, escape rooms should be using speakerphone, not handsets. I’ll explain.
When player picks up a phone receiver and is delivered a clue, hint, or bit of story, the game has just created a solo moment.
That player is solely enjoying the experience and the rest of their teammates are watching, hoping that the teammate who answered the phone will successfully relay all relevant information to them.
And the better and more entertaining the phone message is for the person holding the phone, the more the rest of the team is missing out.
This is an artificial and unnecessary feel-bad moment.
Whether you’re delivering a clue, hint, or bit of story, it’s better to deliver the message via speakerphone… or better yet… pipe it through your PA system.
Yes, I know that picking up the phone receiver is more realistic and immersive, but this is a classic example of when breaking from the “more realistic and immersive interaction” makes for a better experience for all involved.
It’s better for the person who picked up the phone too. It kind of sucks as a player to have a really entertaining moment, and then have your teammates ask you what happened, and you can’t really explain what made it compelling or funny. It’s hard to retell jokes.
You can still keep the telephone receiver in the room, have it ring and everything… but when the player picks it up, blast the message out through the biggest speaker you can.
When 📞 > 🔈
There are a few instances where the receiver is better than a speaker, but they are few and far between:
- If part of the game is psychological and you’re attempting to create an air of mystery or distrust.
- In some horror experiences, you might want to create an intense moment for one player, and having the rest of the team witness their reaction is important.
- You’re attempting to create some kind of communication challenge.
But in most cases… just default to speaker.