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Welcome back, dear reader! If you have read all of our previous posts, filled with valuable advice and knowledge you must have decided to give this escape room thing a whirl. Maybe you’ve assembled a team (carefully conducting interviews and callbacks) or have been training for months. Well if so, you overdid it. Bring it down a notch, friend. But that enthusiasm will serve you well. So, what do you need to be successful in your escape? That’s what this blog is here for. Welcome to the noob’s guide to playing an escape room.

This blog is filled with the top four things that anyone playing their first room should know. You are going to have plenty of missteps as you play different rooms and get familiar with this form of entertainment. But there are some things first time groups or players often do that could be prevented if they had someone giving them sage advice. These top tips are presented in alphabetical order by importance, chronologically. No, it’s the opposite of that. These are in no particular order.

The beginning is the hardest part

You should know right off the bat that your first 5-8 minutes in any escape room are the hardest minutes to play. You haven’t done anything yet and the whole room looks like a space full of potential. This is where you will most likely imagine your own puzzles or overthink something in a desperate need to find the beginning. It’s super easy to get frustrated at this point. Understand this feeling is completely normal and you should hug it like a 6-foot stuffed bear and hold on. In most cases, puzzles lead to more things so once you find your starting point the rest of the room flows smoother.

So, what do you do? Don’t be afraid to try a theory out or touch something. Unless your host said “don’t do that” during the rules it is probably ok. Keep your mind open and clear, like a Kung Fu puzzle master.

Not every puzzle can be solved in the beginning.

Ok, so you found some puzzles. Good for you! That’s why you’re here! Now you have to bear one thing in mind. Those tricksy game designers sometimes give you bits of a puzzle but not all of the information you need. Maybe you find literal puzzle pieces but you don’t have all of them. Maybe you have a picture of something but it looks like part of it is torn or a book with pages missing. Whatever the case once you start trying to solve it you may start to feel like you’re spinning your wheels. In some cases that is exactly what you are doing.

If you find something, don’t leave it where you found it.

This isn’t always the case, as I once discovered while playing with a roller calendar (a fun story for another time). But if you have explored a desk and opened a drawer to find some kind of a box inside you should take the box out and tell the team you found a thing! They may respond with positive reinforcement and high fives. Let’s be honest, everyone needs a high five now and then.

You are in a room where things are hidden on purpose. Finding them is part of the game and if you have access to it now or get access to it later there may be a reason you have it. Take it out and tell everyone because someone else may have what goes with it and doesn’t know because they don’t have what you have. See that? Teamwork! Yes!!

Make sure you are clear on what your goal is in the room before starting.

As a newbie to escape rooms you may not think to ask about this. Make sure your host tells you how long you have in the room and what you are looking for to end the game. Classically this involves a key but it may not always be the case. I played a room once where the goal was to find the money in the bank vault. Don’t assume it’s always a key. Otherwise, you may think the goal is to find the last Jedi or something weird.

That’s all for this installment. Hopefully, you have found this helpful or motivating, maybe both (if you didn’t please don’t say anything.) And of course, we hope that you will think of Escape Games Live as your gateway to escape greatness. In our next blog, we will discuss the proper care and raising of baby unicorns and why pancakes are delicious. Either that or something else about escape rooms.

James Kirk

Yes, his real name is James Kirk. No, his middle name is not Tiberias.
James is a super nerd that has been playing games at a table or on a screen or with the sanity of others since he was about 6 years old. Some time may or may not have passed since then. James has been hosting Escape Rooms for over two years and also manages both locations for Escape Games Live as the GM. He has also played numerous escape rooms and has learned much through personal experience watching and playing rooms. In his time away from work he enjoys life with his wife and daughter as well as volunteering time with The Bodhana Group, which is a local organization that uses tabletop gaming as a form of adjunct therapy for those in need of their services, helping to develop critical thinking, planning and strategy, social skills and building self-esteem and identity by exploring each individual’s “character”. He is a fan of all things nerd which is good because his name would be a waste otherwise.