Be That Person Who Knows About Escape Rooms

I’d bet most of us are known as “that person who knows about escape rooms” to at least some of our friends and family. I suggest we all lean into that. Be that person. Why not? It’s cool to be an expert. Maximize your role as that person who knows about good escape rooms.

Two hands reaching out for one another.
Continue reading “Be That Person Who Knows About Escape Rooms”

Vintage Rotary Phone Tutorial… Or Why They Are Confusing

Rotary phones in escape rooms are sort of a running joke. They are period-appropriate for a few decades of history, but for those who don’t know how to use them… they are completely unintuitive.

An old rotary telephone with the receiver off the hook.

It turns out that they weren’t exactly intuitive when they were released either. Here’s an infomercial from 1936.

The biggest problem with the rotary phone interface is that it doesn’t do much to imply its own usage. It’s truly designed with the assumption that the user will be taught how to use it.

If you want to see this in action, give this Kids React to Rotary Phones video a watch. It’s adorable.

Level Up Your Tally Marks

I remember learning tally marks in elementary school. It never crossed my mind that there might be different ways to tally.

About a year ago this image showed up in one of my feeds and I saved it:

3 different ways to tally up to 5 from around the world.
I’m not sure of the origin of this image, if you know, please contact me.

Since saving this, I’ve tried the other two methods of tallying (mostly while puzzling) and I have some opinions and conclusions to share.

I love the “box” method

After trying all of these out, I’ve found what I’ll call the “box” method is considerably better for me.


Drawing the box feels better because I can do it without looking, and without picking up my pen.

With the other two methods, I have to at least be aware of what my pen is doing and where it’s placed.


At a quick glance, the box method has a visual distinctiveness that I find easier to process than the other two.

With the vertical tallies that I grew up with, sometimes I have a hard time visually processing whether there are 3 or 4 lines.


According to Dig Mandarin, “Chinese tally marks add up to make the shape of the Chinese character 正 (pronounced zhèng), which means “correct” or ‘true/right.'”

I think it’s really cool that there is a tally method that has meaning in addition to function, but I couldn’t comfortably make this work for me. However, I imagine it would feel a lot more natural if I grew up drawing Chinese characters.

There’s No Right Or Wrong Way

There’s no right or wrong way to tally. Speaking for myself, I’m glad that I found a new way to accomplish this task.

I would have been fine using the method that I grew up on for the rest of my life, but I am happier with this new one. I always find it cool when I learn a better or different way to do a thing that I had assumed was only done one way.

10 Escape Room Misconceptions [Video]

Joel with blue hair leaning over a table covered in locks, puzzles, and boxes. Labeled, "10 Escape Room Misconceptions."

REA Hivemind Reviewer Joel Smileypeacefun created this video, ESCAPE ROOMS: 10 Common Mistakes And Misconceptions. In it he explores and acts out 10 different ways that newbies tend to misunderstand the escape room medium.

  • 00:00 Intro
  • 00:30 No. 1: Mr. Know-it-all
  • 03:25 No. 2: Kids in Escape Rooms
  • 06:06 No. 3: Not listening to the gamemaster…
  • 08:32 No. 4: Being way too intense!
  • 10:25 No. 5: Communication is key
  • 11:52 No. 6: Giving up without actually trying
  • 13:23 No. 7: Cheating?
  • 15:04 No. 8: Know how to operate the most common locks
  • 17:37 No. 9: Chaotic people
  • 18:54 No. 10: Playing the same Escape Room twice in a row
  • 20:40 Outro

Give it a watch. He did a great job:

Yes those are Joel’s Guinness World Records. They are for domino chain reactions… something that I’d never have the patience for.