What is an escape game?
Maybe you've heard of an escape room? Escape the Room? Puzzle Room? Exit Game? Room Escape? No matter the name, the concept is the same.
An escape game is a real-life experience where you and a group of other players are literally locked inside a room and have 60 minutes to escape. (Note: Some rooms only give you 45 minutes...lame).
How do you escape? No, it does not involve an axe or battering ram. You escape by working together to find elements, follow clues, and solve puzzles within the room. Most games, the good ones, have a flow to the process. The elements start separately and eventually converge into the finale where you burst through the exit door to freedom!
This is how the whole thing works:
1. You book a game online for a specific day/time. You can book for yourself, you and your better half, a group of friends, teammates, coworkers, your nuclear and/or extended family, etc. Booking is required in advance to reserve your spots.
2. You'll arrive about 15 minutes before the start of your game to check in and meet your team. The moderator/game master/employee will explain the rules, go over any game-specific information, and send you in. The rules are usually standard; Leave your stuff in the locker in the lobby, don't force anything (nothing more than a finger's strength), and don't climb on the furniture are the basic ones.
3. Now that you're in the room and the clock is ticking (most games use a monitor in the room to keep track of the time and give you hints), you need to start searching. Look everywhere! Triple-check all drawers and cabinets. Look on top of things, below things, inside things. How many locks are there? Which have numbers? Which have letters? Collect everything you find and lay it out somewhere to assess.
4. Start assessing! Did you find multiple of something? Are there numbers on that thingy? What do the different colors mean? Does this belong in that contraption? Communication is key! The beauty of playing with a group is that each mind looks at things a little differently. You noticed the colors, but maybe someone else noticed the shapes. There will be some false information and 'red herrings' so don't get overly focused on one thing. If your'e stuck, let someone else have a try.
5. Check the time and keep moving. An important thing to remember is to never lose a sense of urgency in the game. Do you feel like you are almost done, but there are still 30 minutes on the clock? You're probably not as close as you think...
6. Eventually, time runs out or you escape. It's one or the other. Either way, things aren't over. You'll exit to the lobby and typically take a picture of triumph or a photograph of shame. But the best part is, you probably won't be able to tell the difference because you're smiling in both scenarios.
7. Last but far from least, you debrief. This is where you break it all down with your group. This is arguably just as fun as playing. In fact, you'll likely play it through all again in your conversation. This can last five minutes or it can last hours. The better the game, the more you'll have to talk about!
In the end, you have to play to really understand it - the experience is like nothing else you've tried. Start your experience now.