Escape Rooms: On Both Sides

Group of men in an escape room.

I recently posted on Facebook something like this:  “Audrey: 4  Escape Rooms: 0”

Yes, I suppose it was bragging. But, I have done four different escape rooms (Escape Game Nashville, Which Way Out Knoxville, Escape Game Knoxville, and The Chamber in Columbus, OH) and I have been in a group that has escaped successfully all four times. In two of the rooms, I knew everybody in the group. In the other two, there was a group I knew but we were joined with another group for the experience.

That makes a difference.

I have enjoyed them all but some more than others. I have been thinking why. I think the novelty of the experience made the first one I tried my favorite. But, it also had the widest variety of puzzles to solve and required more teamwork than the others, I thought. In one game, there were 12 folks.

That is too many.

Yes, you need a team to get out in the time allowed. I don’t know how a team of two could do it, truthfully. And in one of the rooms, I know that I would have NEVER figured out one of the combinations based on the information given. I am just glad my brother was there who did figure it out. He explained it to me several times and I am still not quite sure I understand the logic.

These games are fun because you have to think and think fast. And think creatively. And work together. And communicate. The puzzles range from math word problems to listening to audio files and deciphering what is being said to reading maps and many more fun ways to test your mind. I think that is why I found it so techy-feely! You really have to apply both sides of the brain to get out of these rooms.

So, after telling some friends about them, one of them asked me to create a game room for their Halloween party. Sure, I said. That sounds like fun.

Oh boy! It was WAY harder than I thought it would be. I found myself drawing all kinds of flow charts and diagrams to make sure I didn’t make the room impossible to escape by locking a solution up in something that couldn’t be opened without that information. And, to get a wider variety of puzzles without making any real changes to the room (it was someone’s house rather than a commercial environment set up for an escape room business) was more of a challenge. I also wanted a theme to go along with my friends’ home and life. I did it. And, I thought it was pretty good. I also vastly underestimated how much time it would take a group to finish it. I thought 15 minutes but it was more like 30 with several big hints along the way. I wish another group had tried so I could compare some experiences.

I think if you are into puzzles and games, you are more likely to enjoy the experience. When I tell someone that you are locked in a room for an hour and have to try to get out, I mostly get reactions of fear and claustrophobia. It really isn’t like that. There is always a way out of the room. There is someone watching you and providing hints if you need them (or ask for them – up to a point). I think they want you to succeed. Although, the success rates for these rooms from what I can tell hovers between 25-30%, which I find astonishing.

I assumed that folks would start posting how to escape and the rates would go up, but when I was searching for inspiration for creating my own escape room, I was struck by how little information is out there on creating them or solving them. So, folks are keeping the secrets safe – which is better for the businesses and the experiences as well!

I found them fun. I will do more, I am sure. I also know I probably will meet one that I cannot defeat. Oh dear.


Photo credit: MYSTERY MANILA – Sinister’s Symposium-16.jpg