I seem to have been mentioning room escape games for months on this blog, with the promise of a longer post later on several occasions. This post has been in draft for ages, so I thought I would finally commit to sharing a bit about this hobby that has got me hooked!
So, what is a room escape game? I have heard some people describe it as being similar to a Crystal Maze or Krypton Factor type activity, and this is partly true. It is a timed activity, although typically at 45-60 minutes a lot longer than a room on the Crystal Maze, and generally it involves logic and puzzles rather than much physical skill - no Krypton Factor style assault courses here!
In truth though, my experience of room escape games, goes back many years, when they were (and still are) popular as online computer games such as these, where you point and click around a locked room, finding clues and objects to help you escape. Many a happy hour as a geeky teenager (and if we're being honest twenty-odd-year old) was passed completing the puzzles with The Husband. It seems to have been in the last year that real life versions have taken off in the UK, although apparently they have been around a lot longer. They are growing massively in popularity, often topping Tripadvisor lists of activities in various cities. There are so many to choose from, and as my friends have started going and taking part and agreeing how fabulous they are, I feel somewhat vindicated, and increasingly proud of my geekdom - turns out I was cool all along, just ahead of my time!
So what actually happens? Well the rooms are generally designed with a particular story in mind, the ones we have done so far have varied massively, there have been crimes to solve, science experiments to investigate, and even missile launches to stop. You are generally given the back story by your helper, who takes you to the room, and then watches your progress from outside, and can offer hints if you need them. The room will be set up to look like a "proper room" with furniture, pictures, books, etc, and you have to work out what in the room is relevant, and use it to solve clues, work out codes, unlock boxes, and eventually get out of the room. There is a timer counting down, and you frantically try to get out before the sixty minutes runs out.
The rooms often vary in difficulty, and generally can be done by 2-6 people (although this varies depending on the place). The Husband and I have always done them as a pair, and have thoroughly enjoyed all 6 that we have done. I'm going to write a bit more separately about the different places we have visited, as they they are all quite different. I don't plan on turning this into a room escape blog, as I realise it might be less than interesting for most people, but much like sharing the books I have read, I decided I'd like to share some of room escape experiences on here too.
When I tell people about it, a lot of people think it must be either claustrophobic or scary (or both!). Personally I've never found it to be claustrophobic, the rooms have all been quite reasonably sized, and all have a means of exiting in an emergency. I don't tend to think of myself as being locked in, more as having to solve the puzzles, so I think knowing that I could get out if I wanted to helps, although obviously other people could well feel different. In terms of it being scary, one or two of the rooms have had elements that made me jump (and maybe scream, just once), but there are plenty to do that don't include anything that is frightening - except for the fear that sets in in the final five minutes!
If you like puzzles, and logic, and fancy doing something a bit different, I'd highly recommend giving one of these a go. This brilliant site tells you where does them across the UK. They seem to be really popular with families, and from what I see on the twitter feeds of some of the companies, children quite often put parents to shame when it comes to code cracking! The Husband and I are definitely fans, and it is a really good way to spend an hour together, it's fun to feel like we have shared the experience (and definitely a good test of any friendship or relationship - there has occasionally been episodes of snapping - me, and not listening - him!). We always come away with tons to talk about, and so far have managed to escape every time, albeit cutting it very fine on a few occasions. I'll share with you some more detail of our different experiences on a few future posts, but what do you think, is it something you would try?