Jun 232015
 

Last week I was in Edinburgh for a few days. One of the things my girlfriend and me did was do an “escape room”.

An escape room is a real-life adventure game. And Day of the Tentacle was the best of them: Get the fake barf from the ceiling, flush it through the toilet to send it to the future so that the person there can use it to disqualify Harrold from the "best human contest" so that instead your long-dead mummified pall can win (after you give him hair consisting of spaghetti with meatballs of course...)

An escape room is a real-life adventure game. And Day of the Tentacle was the best of them: Get the fake barf from the ceiling, flush it through the toilet to send it to the future so that the person there can use it to disqualify Harold from the “best human contest” so that instead your long-dead mummified pall can win (after you give him hair consisting of spaghetti with meatballs of course…)

For those of you new to the concept: It’s a room filled with puzzles which you have to solve to “escape” the room (e.g. find the key which allows you to open the storage box which contains a riddle that points you towards the code for the vault…). There is a timer, you have exactly one hour to do this. And it’s awesome fun!

So, I was inspired! And having planned to have some friends over last Saturday, I decided to let loose my diabolical creativity and challenge their grey matter to the hilt. Puzzles, locks, numerical series, codes, even playing the saxophone!

The evening was a great success, everybody absolutely loved it! It took slightly longer than planned (2 hours instead of my estimated 1, but we had time so that didn’t matter so much). And they needed quite a few hints and prodding to get everything right.

Which results in a few observations:

One of my friends twittered about how much she enjoyed the escape room. Promptly there were two replies back from companies which would be happy to list my escape room in their index. Maybe this is an interesting career switch?!
  • Some of the clues I thought were blatantly obvious were completely misunderstood by the group. People will think differently…
  • It can be staring in your face, but people won’t see it. An A4 with the code to one of the locks was out in the open and completely ignored. Next time I’ll write next to it: “Secret code”?
  • The group ran with whatever bit of a clue they had. When there were two songs to be played they quickly got the first one (“You can leave your hat on”, sending them off to my collection of hats and removing the pieces of paper from all of them), but completely ignored the second song (“Under the bridge” by All Saints, with the file renamed to “Be original”; it should be obvious that the original of Under the bridge is by the Red Hot Chilli Peppers and that they obviously needed the red hat. Right? (Yeah, I made this one too complicated…)), meaning that they they didn’t know anymore which piece of paper came from which hat.

All of the above says nothing about my friends, but it says a lot about me as a game designer (or communicator). One thing I took away from this:
If it isn’t blatantly obvious, people will misunderstand (i.e. hints don’t work (I’m looking at some of my ex girlfriends here! 😉 )).

I think this will help me quite a lot next time I have to give a presentation or write a report (or design an escape room!).


Bastiaan ReininkI’m Bastiaan. This blog is meant to give you some insight into the things I run into and perhaps to inspire you to go in search of your own life extraordinaire.

If you enjoyed this (or another) post, if you have something to add or to ask, I would really appreciate it if you would leave a comment!

  3 Responses to “Escape room”

  1. It was absolutely amazing to do the escape-room-thing in your house! So many thanks (again)!

  2. btw, we did one with my family last week in the Netherlands, and it was frigging AWESOME. It was actually Escape the Villa in an actual villa, with 4 different rooms to be solved (including a corpse in a swimming pool). We actually failed, and the butler died (he had an hour left to live when we started…)

    http://www.escapethevilla.nl/algemene-informatie.asp

    If you ever want to do something fun with friends and for god-knows-why find yourself in Wierden (Twente), you should check this place out…

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