We’re looking forward to reading your conversations with Terry Pettigrew-Rolapp of Hatch Escapes in Los Angeles, Yolanda Chiu of Asia Escape Game, and Nick Moran of Time Run and Sherlock: The Game is Now.
Thank you, Room Escape Problems. I’m honored to be part of your interview series.
I pretty much grew up with video games. I mean that in both senses of the phrase:
I grew up playing video games
Video games grew up as I did
When I first started playing first person shooters (and suffering through them while they made me motion sick because they were choppy as hell), the arrow keys on the keyboard were the movement standard.
The arrow keys made sense. They were the obvious input mechanism for controlling motion. That was, until “WASD” came along.
From Half Life and Counterstrike, to Portal and Fortnite, the movement control standard for first person games has been the “WASD” keys on the left side of the keyboard. This button mapping wasn’t obvious… and it didn’t come from a video game designer. It came from a player.
Dennis “Thresh” Fong was the top Quake player back in game’s heyday of the mid 1990s. WASD was his button mapping; he went undefeated with it. Thersh was basically a folk hero among gamers back then. This layout caught on, partially because of his notoriety, but mostly because it worked.
I remember being super skeptical of WASD as a button mapping, but it made everything more fluid and easier. Those keys were laid-out perfectly and the hand position gave access to plenty of other buttons, enabling complex actions that simply weren’t possible when your fingers were isolated over by the arrow keys.
This story is beautifully told in this video:
Why is this relevant to escape rooms?
Good escape rooms are built on top of decades of knowledge from other industries. Video games are certainly one of the biggest influences.
I’ve encountered plenty of companies that learn from watching their players. Some learn from aggregate player behavior, using their games as large experiments and iterating on them based on player trends.
I’ve heard of other designers taking inspiration for new puzzles or puzzle iterations by listening to the wrong ideas that players cook up while attempting to solve a challenge.
As a player, I’ve adopted plenty of tactics from other players… and I’ve invented a few of my own.
Players: What tactics have you learned from other players?
Owners: What have you seen your players do that you think would make for great standards?
I think that there is a lot to learn from great players, both in terms of improving one’s abilities to play, and as in the case with WASD, improving the way that games are designed.
Bypass / Circumvent – (verb) to skip over a game element. This can be intentional or unintentional. It can result from hints, guesswork, lock exploitation, game design flaws, or faulty game resets.
Caesar Cipher / Caesarian Shift – (noun, singular) an encryption technique made famous by Julius Caesar, using a substitution cipher in which each letter in the plaintext is replaced by a letter some fixed number of positions down the alphabet.
Cipher / Cryptogram – (noun, singular) a text written in code.
Clue – (noun, singular) a detail or component within the game that the players should interpret, combine, and solve in order to escape. This term can be confusing as it is sometimes also used to refer to a hint (see below).
Combination Lock – (noun, singular) a lock that opens when the correct numeric, alphabetic, or symbolic password is input.
Communication Puzzle – (noun, singular) a type of escape room challenge that requires at least two parties to exchange information.
Difficulty by Darkness – (noun, singular) a type of escape room made intentionally more challenging (and frustrating) by dim lighting. This is not to be confused with a dark room (see above.)
Do Not Touch Sticker – (noun, singular) a sticker or piece of tape affixed to props and set pieces that are “out of play.” The definition of “out of play” varies by escape room.
Drag – (verb) to feed a team so many hints as a gamemaster that the team no longer feels they were responsible for the win. This tends to be the result of an incompetent team and/or an incompetent game.
Easter Egg – (noun, singular) an unexpected or undocumented feature in an escape room included as a joke or a bonus.
Escake – (noun, singular) a celebratory delicacy used to mark the completion of a milestone escape room, traditionally cake. The concept of escake originates with the prolific UK-based “S2” escape room duo of Sera Dodd and Sharan Gill.
Escape Rate – (noun, singular)
For players: the win/loss percentage of an individual escape room player or team out of their total games played.
For rooms: the percentage of teams that escape the room in the time allotted. This is often ballparked or blatantly misreported.
Escape Room Logic – (noun, singular) a puzzle solution that makes sense in the context of solving puzzles within the game, but not within a game’s narrative. E.g. You’re a fugitive on the run from the police hunting for the information that will clear your name. Why are you counting the cups in a cabinet to get a lock combination?
Filler/ Junk / Noise / Fluff – (noun, plural) subpar escape room content (puzzles, interactions, props, or story content) that is included for the purpose of lengthening the experience.
Frontsolve / Forward Solve– (verb) to solve a puzzle as the designer intended.
Game Clock – (noun, singular) the official countdown timer. This is frequently displayed within the game.
Game Flow – (noun, singular) the connective tissue between puzzles or game elements. Game flow describes the whole experience, how one puzzle branches out into others or funnels into a meta-puzzle. Game flow be mapped as a visual representation of the escape room.
Gamemaster / Host / Guide / Game Guide / Cluemaster – (noun, singular) the person responsible for overseeing the in-game experience, providing hints, and delivering and enforcing rules.
Gamespace/ Set – (noun, singular) the gaming environment.
Glyph – (noun, singular) a symbol that (should) mean something.
Head to Head / Competitive Games – (adjective) describes two identical escape rooms that can be played simultaneously as a race. Teams competing in head to head escape rooms to can sometimes interact during the game.
Hint – (noun, singular) an additional piece of information from outside of regular gameplay delivered by the gamemaster to assist a team in forward progress. This concept can sometimes be referred to as a clue (see above).
Hint Penalty / Clue Penalty – (noun, singular) The punishment for needing an additional piece of information from outside of regular gameplay. It is commonly extra “time” added to the escape time whereby if a team escapes in 55 minutes but used a hint, it’s counted as if they escaped in 58 minutes. It can also be an in-game action, such as dancing, that the team must do to receive the necessary outside information.
Human Circuit – (adjective) describes a puzzle that requires players to form a human chain between metal props to complete a circuit to trigger an event.
Immersive – (adjectives) describes an escape room that creates such a compelling fiction that as a player, you feel that you are a part of it and forget the world outside the escape room.
Individual Role / Individual Goal – (noun, singular) a type of escape room where players are each assigned characters and/or objectives outside of the team objective. This can put the players in competition with one another, but it doesn’t have to.
Informed Choice – (noun, singular) an interaction where players have to make a decision (frequently an ethical decision) based on enough information that they can understand the context of their choice
Interaction – (noun, singular) a designed action within the game.
Key – (noun, singular) a small piece of shaped metal with incisions cut to fit the wards of a particular lock that can be inserted into the lock and turned to open or close the lock.
Key for Key – (noun, singular) a key locked up behind a key lock.
Kimmy Schmidt Crank – (noun, singular) a crank that must be regularly turned to keep the power on.
Linear – (adjective) describes a game that follows a rigid puzzle structure wherein each puzzle leads to the next. All escape rooms have some degree of linearity.
Live – (adjective) describes an element that you know will move or open in the future.
Lock Guy / Lock Girl / Locksmith – (noun, singular) the one teammate who always wants to input the combination or open the lock. This is sometimes a player who doesn’t feel they can contribute to actually solving the puzzles and opening things makes them feel like the hero.
Lock Whisperer – (noun, singular) the teammate who can always get the locks to open. They just have the special touch.
Lockout Safe – (noun, singular) a box or cabinet with a combination locking mechanism that will shut down for a period of time if multiple incorrect combinations are input. Lockout safes are generally frowned upon by escape room players.
Logic Leap – (noun, singular) a tenuous connection between a clue and a puzzle solution.
Mag Lock/ Magnetic Lock / Sensor-driven Lock – (noun, singular) an electromagnet used to secure a door or compartment. These locks are opened when they receive a signal from a button, sensor, or other controlling electronics.
Magnet Maze – (noun, singular) a common escape room prop where a small object (frequently a key) is behind a barrier and must be navigated out with a magnet.
Meta Puzzle – (noun, singular) a puzzle that unites several puzzles that feed into it. A meta puzzle is usually set late in the game and players must complete a series of other puzzles before they can tackle the meta puzzle.
Morse Code – (noun, singular) a code in which letters are represented by combinations of long and short signals of light or sound. Morse Code was originally designed for long-distance communication rather than obscuring messages.
Non-Binary Win Condition – (noun, singular) a type of escape room that doesn’t result in simply win or lose; it has different degrees or types of winning.
Non-Linear – (adjective) describes a game that does not follow a rigid puzzle structure wherein each puzzle leads to the next. Multiple puzzles can be completed at one time. Different teams can tackle puzzles in different orders.
Number Soup – (noun, singular) an escape room with so many numbers and combination locks and lack of correlation between the numbers and the locks… that your brain feels like a soup.
One-time Use – (adjective) describes props that will only contribute to one puzzle solution.
On-ramp – (noun, singular) the first puzzle in the escape room. It should stand out and be easily approachable.
Over-locked / Lock Orgy – (adjective / noun) describes a single item that is shut with many (too many!) locks.
Padlock – (noun, singular) a portable key- or combination-activated lock.
Paper Puzzle / Homework Puzzle – (noun, singular) a puzzle that does not require the gamespace and could be solved anywhere.
Parallel Puzzle – (verb) to complete multiple puzzles at once with different teammates working on each concurrently. Some escape room design allows this. This can refer to teammates working in parallel in the same gamespace or in different gamespaces as part of the same escape room.
Physical Force – (noun, singular) physical strength used to open things. This is usually in violation of game rules and may result in breakage. Note that some escape rooms require physical force.
Pigpen / Masonic Cypher – (noun, singular) an 18th-century substitution cipher created by the freemasons that exchanges letters for geometric symbols that are fragments of a grid.
Pipeline / High Throughput Model – (noun, singular) a type of escape room where multiple teams are in the experience at the same time, but in separate rooms, always moving forward through the experience, never backtracking, and never running into other teams. This is the 5 Wits style.
Plaintext – (noun, singular) any text that is not encoded.
Play the Blame Game – (verb) to blame a failed escape on puzzles that make sense to 99% of players just because one is salty about not escaping.
Private (Ticketing) – (adjective) refers to a ticketing model where an entire group experience is purchased at once. This eliminates the possibility of strangers sharing the same experience. It is the most common ticketing model outside of the United States.
Prop – (noun, singular) an in-game item. It can be part of a puzzle or a red herring.
“Psychic” – (noun, singular) a player who stands or crouches in front of one lock for the entire game trying to guess the combination instead of playing the game. The psychic never actually guesses the combination.
Public (Ticketing) – (adjective) refers to a ticketing model where admission is purchased by each individual player, thus allowing for the possibility of strangers sharing the same experience. This is a common ticketing model in the United States.
Puzzle – (noun, singular) anything that the team solves to advance through the escape room.
Puzzle Snatching / Puzzle Yanking – (verb) To take or steal a puzzle or component of a puzzle from another player, generally considered poor form.
Randoms – (noun, plural) strangers with whom you are teamed up in an escape room due to a public ticketing booking system (see above).
Recap/ Thought Journey – (noun, singular) a mid-game or late-game explanation to teammates of how a puzzle or series of puzzles has resolved in order to get the entire team in sync again.
Red Herring – (noun, singular) an in-game item or piece of information that does not contribute to a puzzle solution, but could potentially lead players to waste time thinking it would be involved in the puzzle solving process. It may be intentional or unintentional. It may also be the result of wear, breakage, or vandalism. See Ghost Puzzle and Decor for additional information.
(verb) to revert an escape room to its starting position whereby a new team can begin. e.g. “I need to reset the room for the next team.”
(noun, singular) – the act of reverting the escape room to its starting position. e.g. “We experienced a faulty reset.”
Reset Fail – (noun, singular) an improper reset where not every aspect of the escape room is reverted back to the correct starting position thereby adversely affecting the room play.
Resting Puzzle Face – (noun, singular) a look of concentration while solving puzzles that is easily mistaken for discontent.
RFID – (noun, singular) an automatic identification technology that uses radio-frequency electromagnetic fields to identify objects carrying tags when they come close to a reader. RFID is frequently used in escape rooms to release mag locks or trigger other events, often feeling magical.
Safe – (noun, singular) a box or cabinet with a keyed or combination locking mechanism.
Sandbag – (verb) to hold back in an escape room as an experienced player to maximize the enjoyment of muggles or randoms.
Search / Hunt / Scavenge – (verb) to look for hidden clues within the gamespace.
Search Fail – (noun, singular) failure to find a hidden clue within the gamespace.
Seizure mode – (noun, singular) a handheld flashlight state where the light flashes incessantly. Some flashlight have this mode. This should not be confused with a weak and flickering flashlight.
Self-resetting / Automatically-resetting – (adjective) describes an escape room that is ready to play again immediately. Players do not have to wait for a gamemaster to reset the experience. This is usually associated with pipelines.
Semaphore – (noun, singular) – a system of sending messages by holding two arms or two flags in certain positions that correspond to an alphabetic code. Semaphore is used as a cipher in escape rooms.
Set Piece – (noun, singular) a self-contained segment of the gamespace.
Signpost – (verb) to direct players to what they’re meant to be working on through subtle in-game cluing
Spin – (verb) to stall in an escape rooms and take the clues in all sorts of ridiculous directions instead of taking a hint.
Split Team – (adjective) a style of escape room where the team is separated into different gamespaces for some or all of the experience. Split team design is most commonly used as the starting situation, with the team coming together later in the experience.
Strategic Hint – (noun, singular) a hint used because of gamesmanship in order to speed up the team’s performance.
Sudden Death – (adjective) describes an escape room where you can take an action that results in losing before the game clock runs out. e.g. cutting the wrong wire on the bomb.
Surprise Satanism – (noun, singular) a genre of escape room where the initial gamespace is comfortable and welcoming, but a later gamespace reveals blood, guts, and pentagrams… or anything unexpectedly sinister.
Tech – (noun, singular) something that runs on electricity that the player cannot control completely with an on/off switch.
Here’s a simple yet advanced escape room player tip for remembering letters and numbers in games that don’t provide note-taking materials.
You’re playing an escape room that requires you to derive letters or numbers one at a time and then recall them for a code. To make matters worse, you aren’t even sure what order these digits will go in.
You haven’t been provided with note-taking materials.
You’ve got digits and you know they are important, but for some reason the game designer believes that this puzzle should also be a memory test.
Grab a discarded lock and input the digits that you need to remember. Now you have a portable external memory device. Tote it around with you until the problem is solved.
If you don’t have a used lock, save the digits on an active lock. However, keep these few things in mind if you’re using an active lock as external memory:
Communicate to your team what you’re doing. Active locks tend to get shuffled.
Remember that the active lock might get solved before the puzzle you’re attempting to save the digits for.
How Often is this Useful?
I can’t say that I have had to do this all that often in the three or so years that this trick has been in my back pocket. However, it’s been especially useful when playing escape rooms with fewer people than the recommended team size.
Earlier this year, Lisa and I played a game where we had to derive a series of 9 digits to input into a keypad. To get to these digits, Lisa solved a logic puzzle and correlated her answers to items spread across a large space. There might have been other steps. I put the first 5 digits in a lock and brought that over to the keypad. After I punched these in, she only had to recite the last 4 digits for me. We were in!
It may not be an every-game trick, but I’ve always been happy to have it when I’ve needed it.
Locks as External Memory is one escape room tactic. For more tips, check out our Player Tips section.
I’m not the guy who complains about every little change that every tech platform makes. I’ve been designing complex software for years and I get the complexity.
When I say that the latest Facebook Newsfeed updates are terrible, I mean it.
They are a disaster for small businesses like escape rooms.
What’s Going On?
Mark Zuckerberg did his 50 states tour and decided that Facebook needed to focus on creating “meaningful interaction.”
He said, “We want to make sure that our products are not just fun, but are good for people.”
As a result, the newsfeed now supposedly emphasizes “friends and family” (NYTimes).
In practicality, this means:
Content posted by your family should appear more readily in your feed.
Content from Facebook Pages of companies that you’ve liked will appear less frequently.
News content will appear more often… so long as it’s been posted by a friend.
Content from Facebook groups you’ve joined will show up all over your feed.
For me personally, this means that my Facebook feed consists of humorless political postings from the people that I know, discussions from the various escape room-related Facebook groups that I’m a member of… and lots and lots and lots and lots of escape room post-game photos.
This means that I’m looking at Facebook a whole lot less. So maybe this is a good thing?
Back to the point.
What Does This Mean For Escape Rooms & Players?
The organic reach of Facebook pages has been slashed.
This means that the Facebook content posted by businesses will surface naturally at a much lower rate.
Facebook wants businesses to pay to have their content surfaced. This isn’t new. While they’ve been operating this way for years, they’ve kept the organic numbers at least reasonable while regularly pummeling the page-owner with notifications about the treasures that will come if and only if they give Facebook some money to promote their content.
To me, these notifications always read like Nigerian Prince emails without the charm.
Update 11:45AM – This is a high performing post! Facebook wants money to make more people see it.
The Facebook user clicks “like” on pages of interest. The user is literally asking for the content. Facebook, however, algorithmically withholds it because it’s an easy chokepoint to generate revenue.
For players this means that when your favorite local escape room business announces that it has a new room, you won’t see this unless the escape room pays enough money that Facebook chooses to grace your eyeballs with the announcement.
It means that if you follow Room Escape Artist or other blogs through Facebook, you will see our content less frequently.
More importantly, it means that your local escape room businesses will likely have to spend a lot more money with Facebook to get the results that they need to operate. This will dramatically favor larger businesses who can more easily absorb the added cost.
What Can I Do About It?
You – as a player, a fan of escape rooms, and a reader of this site – have a few options to limit the damage that this shift will create:
Use your web browser as a browser and favorite your local escape room companies and Room Escape Artist. Click over to them from time to time. Visit on your own terms, not because an algorithm selected the content for you.
Subscribe to emails. A good portion of our readership subscribes to receive emails when we publish content. Just about every escape room company out there sends out promotions and information via email.
If you can’t kick the Facebook habit, and believe me, I get that too… click “like,” leave a comment, or share content that you support. Boosting the signal helps.
Another option for those committed to Facebook is to use their oddly buried subscription feature to make sure that content is served up:
When you like a page’s content, go to the page and next to the “Like” button you’ll find the “Following” button. Click that and update your setting to “See First.”
Advice For Owners
So far, we haven’t seen a significant dip in traffic as a result of this because we’ve never put a heavy emphasis on Facebook as a distribution platform. Our feeling is that we distribute to all sensible channels and let our readers decide how they will interact with us. Facebook happens to be one channel.
Our site is built on open source technology. We distribute easily to RSS and our email subscription is simple. Our preference is that people use the website as a website because that’s the only thing we can control.
We’ve taken this approach because we don’t trust Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Medium, and others to put our interests first. We’ll use them, but we won’t count on them.
Advertising and marketing is a lot of work. Make a conscious strategy. Don’t rely on one platform. Measure your results and refocus on the things that work. Don’t let yourself get lulled into a false sense of security with a single platform.
If one thing is certain about tech companies, it’s the promise of endless change… which may or may not be in your favor.
No company or individual solely created the concept, nor does anyone own the idea and name “escape room.” I explained the history of escape rooms a while back.
We Can’t Solve Your Issues
We’ve been writing about the escape room industry, reviewing games, and tracking the growth of the movement since the fall of 2014. For nearly as long, we’ve received regular emails and social media communication from people who think that we’re in charge of escape rooms.
We receive a lot of corporate booking requests… and a whole lot of customer service issues. As interesting as these messages are, we usually can’t help out. (One time we knew an answer and provided it, CCing the owner of the company in question.)
Contacting Escape Room Companies
To contact an escape room, find the website of the individual company that you will visit or have visited. It should have an email address, contact form, social media link, or phone number.
Good Time / Bad Time?
If you had a miserable time in an escape room, trust us that there are better ones out there. Please don’t give up on the concept because you happened upon a dud. This we can help with: Contact us for an escape room recommendation.
If you played an escape room and enjoyed it, there are so many more fantastic ones out there. This we help with: We have a map & spreadsheet of them.
Game design cannibalizes ideas from past games. It’s the nature of gaming in general and we see it in tabletop games, video games, and escape rooms.
We’ve seen these 3 games turned into escape room puzzles on too many occasions to count. Sometimes we see straight implementations of the classic games; others times they are well-hidden or reimagined.
If you feel like leveling up your escape room skill, mastery of these 3 games will come in handy.
A codemaker sets a secret code and the codebreaker tries to crack it through deduction, logic, and a bit of guess work. The mechanics of this game are incredibly simple, but it has a ton of depth to it.
Somehow I never encountered Mastermind in my pre-escape room life and I’m kind of sad about that.
Towers of Hanoi is a straightforward logic challenge. There are 3 pillars and the more disks you add to it, the harder (and more interesting) it becomes.
I’ve seen some especially creative interpretations of this puzzle in escape rooms.
Not an endorsement for use in escape rooms
Each of these three puzzles has its place and its virtues. When we encounter Towers of Hanoi in an escape room such that it’s fun and make sense, that’s fantastic. That said, these classic puzzles don’t belong in every single escape room.
If you design escape rooms, please don’t read too deeply into this post. Don’t replicate these puzzles just because.
One isn’t always the loneliest number in an escape room.
The concept of “single use” items is common in escape rooms, but it has a strangely fuzzy definition.
Pros & cons
Single use is a popular design choice, but it is not the only way to design an escape room. It has a few benefits for both players and companies:
For players, the benefit is clarity. If you use something, you won’t need it again. You can create a “used” pile that you never have to revisit.
For companies, that player clarity generally results in smoother game flow. It also reduces wear and tear on props, because players don’t continually investigate them for the entire game.
On the flipside, without single use, the same concept can return in different ways, enabling players to build mastery. This can add a level of player satisfaction and more interesting and innovative game design.
Every game design decision comes with tradeoffs.
The proper definitions of single use
If you use it once, you never use it again.
“It” refers to anything in your gamespace, be it a prop, puzzle, solution, key, clue, combination… or black light.
The black light alternative definition
If you use it once, you never use it again, unless it’s a handheld black light. This is lame, but can be ok if it’s made crystal clear.
The incorrect definition
If you use it once, you never use it again, unless we think you should. We’ve seen this strange definition require us to reuse journals, keys, solutions, information that leads to one solution and then leads to another… and, of course, handheld black lights.
The words “single use” should be pretty clear.
They should mean that players will rely on each item once. If that is not your definition, that’s perfectly fine. Not every game needs to be, or even should be, single use. But if you design a game that reuses anything, don’t announce it as “single use” in your pregame briefing.
If you play a lot of escape rooms, eventually you’ll find yourself in one where you’re a passive participant.
Perhaps you didn’t get enough sleep or work has been hell. Maybe mid-game you suddenly realize that you’re ill.
It’s also possible that you’re going with a group of friends to watch them play through an escape room you’ve already experienced; that has happened before.
Whatever the reason, you’re in the room and you’re putting yourself on the sidelines.
The good news is that there are only few things that you need to do before sitting back.
Step 1: Choose a campground
Find a place that’s out of the team’s way, but allows you to keep up with the goings on. This is easy if you’ve played the game before, but could be challenging if you haven’t.
Stay out of the way so that you aren’t an obstruction while you aren’t contributing.
Position yourself so you can follow the progress of your team in the event that you perk up. That way you can dive back in should you find the energy. Or if you don’t, maybe you’ll piece something together passively while your team keeps working.
Step 2: Search before you sit
I’m not kidding. I’ve seen some talented escapers take a break only to realize that they are sitting atop a critical clue.
It’s really funny when this happens… but it’s best avoided.
Before you sit anywhere, whether it’s in a chair, on the floor, or atop any other prop, search the hell out of it. Search it more thoroughly than you would if you were actively gaming. If you sit down on a clue, the odds are that your team will need to burn a hint in order to learn that you need to move.
You should also search before sitting even if you’ve previously played the game. Sometimes things change.
When we travel to a new city, we like to play a lot of escape rooms back-to-back-to-back and we aren’t the only ones.
In order to make the most of your escape room marathon, follow these tips:
To maximize escape room quantity, create a plan before you start booking. I recommend a spreadsheet.
If you are scheduling multiple games at one company, optimize their booking schedule (to the best of your ability) to book directly back-to-back. It can be helpful to call the company to ask about scheduling concerns such as whether a post-game walkthrough will take additional time. This is especially important if you are booking into escape rooms with public ticketing.
If you are moving between companies, consult a map as you plan the order of your journey. Keep in mind whether you’ll need to leave extra time in between bookings to account for things such as rush hour or finding parking.
Be certain that you know how you’re moving between games. Plan out your use of mass transit in advance, if that’s the best method.
If you’re planning to use Uber / Lyft, verify that they operate in the city you will be visiting (cough Austin, Texas & Buffalo, New York cough).
If you’re driving, research parking ahead of time and plan for refueling breaks if you’re covering a lot of ground.
Be organized. Before you start the trip, make sure you have the following information handy:
Start times for individual room escapes
Special instructions for finding the facility or parking (sometimes the first puzzle is finding the place)
Make sure other incidentals won’t hold you up. For example, put gas in the car and have coins on hand for parking meters, if applicable.
We put everything in Google Calendar after the plan is set. This makes it easy for everyone to access the information and pull up driving directions.
You will get tired. Make sure you take care of other bodily comforts, so that you don’t compound your tiredness.
Plan meal stops ahead of time. Or, if you aren’t planning the exact restaurant, at least make sure there are restaurants in the area before relying on Yelp the day of the escape room marathon.
Make sure you are traveling with snacks and beverages.
Wear layers. You will undoubtedly encounter variable temperatures in the different escape rooms. You want to be able to be comfortable in every game.
Wear comfortable clothes and shoes. You’ll be on your feet and moving around a lot.
As you play multiple escape rooms back-to-back, it can also become tough to keep the rules straight from game to game. (“Are we supposed to take the furniture apart here?”).
Communication becomes even more vital. Speak up as you play.
If you are even contemplating an escape room marathon, you should try one. The fact that you’re considering it suggests that you’ll likely enjoy it… but not every moment will be fun.
You will get tired. You will get hungry. You will get frustrated. These will be amplified when you’re experiencing bad game design or poor customer service.
There will be ups and downs and these moments may not be the same for everyone on the team(s). Don’t let your downs bring down the group. When you aren’t having fun, keep that to yourself so that you don’t ruin other people’s experiences. Be mindful about your bottoming out and don’t be a jerk to your teammates. Take a break, have a snack, drink some water or caffeine.
I repeat: Don’t be a jerk to your teammates (or your gamemaster).
Similarly, if you notice one of your teammates having a rough time, don’t push them. Give them some time to get it together.
Bad moments happen, but you’ll bounce back. Just be aware of your own mood so that you can maximize the fun for your yourself and your teammates.
A day’s worth of adventure puzzling is a lot of fun, but it takes some planning and self control.