Several years ago, the creation of Escape Rooms was just beginning and now this engaging, challenging, adventurous, puzzling, hair-pulling, and exciting game is taking place all over the world. And yet, you could ask friends and neighbors if they have ever heard of Escape Rooms and they’d probably shake their heads.
What are they? Escape Rooms are game rooms with themes, usually, with a wide assortment of décor and props to fit the theme, clues to find, puzzles to solve, locks to unlock, evaluation of what you discovered and back-tracking skills for the things you missed! There can be several in close proximity, each with a different theme, or additional Escape Rooms nearby in the same city.
According to Scott Nicholson, a Game Design Professor at Wilfrid Laurier University in Brantford, Ontario, the Escape Room is a team-based challenge to find clues and solve the clues with the purpose of getting out of the room in a pre-determined time—usually 60 minutes. Nicholson explains, however, that some Escape Rooms have a different goal, which might be to find a treasure, solve a mystery and be with real people, aka friends who you enjoy, instead of passively watching TV or your other screens.
It’s an adventure, pure and simple, which gets you out of your box, thinking and problem-solving some challenges and interacting in different ways, as he says. After starting in Asia, you can see why Escape Rooms are popping up all over the world; it seems to be a universal need for challenge, excitement and engagement with others. Professor Nicholson has studied hundreds of Escape Rooms and knows what he’s talking about.
Okay, even without the pertinent background knowledge, which I strongly advise, we made reservations at Xtreme Escape Game room on Marco Island, one of four Escape Rooms that they currently have on–site. Be sure and check to see how many people can play each Escape Room. If you have the limit, you’re good to go. If you have less, you may be joined by other participants.
You also have the option of purchasing the remaining vacant spots to ensure that you have the room to yourself. Pros/Cons are that you are only with your own group and you pay for the two that aren’t participating and if you are with some strangers, it might take some time to bridge the communication gap and “connect with” the additional participants in the 60 minute time frame.
We were told by the staff about each of the “escape simulations” which was very helpful. They explained the format—searching for clues and how to obtain “hints” when we were stumped and yes, we used that option! We chose “Lost in the Everglades” because we hoped our out-of-town guests would learn something about our area after we supposedly “crash-landed” in the swamp. Special thanks to Michelle Jordan, who answered our questions on the website and was very supportive.
Enthusiastically, we “boarded” our flight and after the door closed, we searched for clues on, under, inside the airline seats, luggage, and other assorted props; can’t divulge the secrets! It took us a while to exit the airplane and find another room full of clues, puzzles and… heads. Yes, heads. We started problem-solving again and it was definitely challenging.
Did we make it out? Did we have fun? Was it entertaining and a bonding experience for our family? YES!
Marco Island is fortunate to have this stimulating, problem-solving choice of activity, which is getting great reviews on various sites. We plan to go back to XtremeEscape and try their other three Escape Rooms.
There are now Escape Rooms all over Florida (Bonita Springs, Fort Myers, Cape Coral, Key West and many more), the United States and all over the world! In fact, more than 30 countries have Escape Rooms. There is a plethora of information and ratings of Escape Rooms easily accessed on the Internet.
Here are a few interesting rooms from around the world:
- Trapped in a Room with a Zombie – even adds an actor to the mix, the Zombie is chained to the wall, but the chain gets one foot longer every 5 minutes! This escape room has been licensed all over the US and the UK.
- Claustrophobia Escape Rooms – based out of Russia, there are over 100 across Europe, some with more actors and roles for the players with pulse-pounding experiences.
- Mr. X Escape Room – in Shanghai has six different rooms, equipped with Gothic artifacts and multiple paths. Players need to escape from all of them in 60 minutes.
- The Basement in Los Angeles – the setting is really a basement and a serial killer wants the players to prove they are intelligent enough to earn their freedom. This Escape Room has electronics and movie quality sets.
Who knew there are awards for the best Escape Rooms? “Sherlocked in the Netherlands” was rated the best escape room in the world; it’s very challenging and won The Vault Award.
Now, if you are a little bit like me and wondering how all this happened without me/us being more aware of what’s going on in the world, maybe I/we need to step up “our game” and get with it in 2020. Escape Rooms are fun, and we sure need more fun in our lives!