Here at Cerebellum Carnival LLC, escape rooms are one of our many passions. We’ve been to several cities in the United States with the main intent of finding the latest and greatest escape rooms. So, what’s the fuss you ask? (You did ask, right?) There are many preconceived notions and fears about escape rooms we have heard while talking to those who have never played one. “Oh, those things are scary, right?” or “I think I saw some movie about that.”
They’re Not Scary
Okay, so SOME escape rooms are scary. However, of the hundreds we have played, roughly 90% have NOT been scary in any form or fashion. There are an infinite possible number of themes and stories (and some very cliché ones such as jails and Egyptian tombs). It should also be noted that most states and cities are not even allowed to lock the door in case there is an emergency. There is always a way to get out of the room. However, the time will not pause if you need to leave.
So if it’s Not Scary, Why Do They Call It an Escape Room?
When escape rooms initially started, most had the goal of escaping from the room. However, you escape through a series of (hopefully) logical puzzles instead of brute force. The escape room climate has changed in the past few years. The term “escape room” has become a bit of a misnomer. Often times there is a winning goal such as robbing a bank, finding a lost jewel, or even pretending to be a dog finding his favorite red ball (Yes, that room exists. Does that sound scary?).
How Do I Book an Escape Room, and How Long Do They Last?
Well, it usually starts out by turning to your friends and family and saying, “Hey, do you want to try one of those escape room things?” Some are excited, some are scared, and some have never heard of this “escape room thing”. You go online and find a local escape room to book a time slot. Some do take walk-ins, but we have found it’s best to book online. Most rooms run on a pretty tight schedule, so they will ask you to arrive 15 minutes before your start time. Be on time! A typical escape room lasts one hour plus a few minutes after to take pictures. There are rooms out there that are not an hour, but those are less common.
What Happens Once We Arrive?
Once you arrive, you’ll be greeted by someone who will ask if you have a booking. Most of the time they will have you sign a waiver. However, don’t let that make you nervous. Injuries in escape rooms are VERY rare. The waivers are just to protect the business if something were to happen. You will be introduced to your game master (often called GM in the escape room community). He will be your guide for the game who tells you the rules and asks if anyone needs to use the restroom. We advise you to go because most games last an hour. The game master will then explain the story of the escape room and the final goal. He’ll bring you into the room, and sometimes go over any room-specific things such as items you are not allowed to touch or climb on. Listen to the game master – he’s not telling you those things to fool you.
The Clock is Counting Down – Now What?
Welcome to your first escape room. We know it can be confusing or intimidating, but if you keep an open mind, you’ll catch on to the flow of things. Look at everything in the room. You may see weird symbols, colors, books, things to search inside and under. Look everywhere! You will eventually start to see how puzzles fit together, and you will have “aha!” moments. This is when things start to become fun.
What if We Don’t Know What to Do Next?
Remember when we talked about the game master? Well, the GM will be listening and watching to you at all times. Before the game, he should have told you how to ask for a hint. Every escape room does hints slightly differently. Some give unlimited, some give 3 max, some penalize you in some way. That last one is rare, and it should not exist at all. Escape rooms are about having fun, not frustrating the player! The game master will point you in the right direction. He may say something like “check the coat pocket again”, or “did you see those symbols on the ceiling?” Whatever it may be, they’re there to get you back on track. Do not be afraid to ask for hints if you feel stuck. Again, escape rooms should be fun and not frustrating.
What Happens if We Don’t Escape, or What Do We Win if We Do?
If you don’t escape, the game master will walk into the room and may explain things that you missed and walk you through the rest of the room if time allows. Some venues won’t show you the ending, but most will gladly do it. If you win, well, you get the satisfaction of winning. It’s like an interactive movie or video game. It’s merely another form of entertainment. Although, it is always exciting if you’re able to get on the leader board. Some places may give you a t-shirt or a bumper sticker or some other form of gratitude, but it shouldn’t be expected.
Do You Have Any Tips?
In fact, we do have some tips for playing escape rooms!
- Communication is key (pun intended). If you find or see something in the room, tell everyone! If communication breaks down, it’s a sure way to lose an escape room.
- Share ideas – Do not be a puzzle hog. If you aren’t able to figure something out, maybe someone else in the group can. Everyone has their own way of thinking.
- Look everywhere! Unless something is glued or bolted down, or if the game master told you a rule specific to the room, it’s fair game to search there!
- Don’t be afraid to ask for hints! Many groups fail to use hints because they see it as a failure to need any help. Every room is designed differently, and sometimes one hint is all you need to progress and gain momentum
- And of course – Have Fun! Escape rooms should be a fun and exciting activity to do with your friends or family. Sure, it’s natural to become frustrated in a room from time to time. However, escape rooms are just another form of entertainment.