The Importance of Escape Rooms in Today’s Society
Today we have the luxury of being connected to people across the world with simply the touch of a button. We can keep up with the ongoing life occurrences of relatives/friends/coworkers through social media posts. This too easily creates a false since of connection to these people without having to directly engage with them. Life events are celebrated through “likes”, “retweets”, and “shares”. We’re given reminders to tell someone happy birthday, so we no longer need to know when that individual’s birthday is. We find amusement staring into a screen laughing at “silly cat” videos as time passes by. We connect with people by scrolling through hundreds of pictures daily, peering into the lives of those we “follow” and feeling like we know exactly who they are and what they are going through. Even as I write this blog, I’m lost in a moment typing into a computer screen.
As I’ve gotten older, I believe we have become lazy in our relationships with others over the years. To me, all relationships take work through time, communication, and sacrificing. In my own little world, I have tried to use the things that are important to me to build connections with others. For example, as a board game enthusiast I am always encouraging others to play a game with loved ones around the table. It’s not about the games though, it’s about that direct connection you can have sharing time with the people you are there with and sharing a moment away from the distraction of TV, cell phones, and computers.
The escape room industry is another avenue to foster connections with people. I love it when I have groups come in to play an adventure in our facility because they want to have intentional family time even if it’s just for 1 full hour. Escape rooms provide an avenue for that intentional time and strengthens relationships through three key areas – communication, cooperation and teamwork.
When I go over rules before a group jumps into an adventure with us, I heavily discuss the importance of communication. As the group tries to look for clues and puzzles, I tell them how important it is to communicate with every teammate what you see, understand, and assess. Thinking out loud when playing an escape room is great way to communicate to your teammates. In groups that keep to themselves, time and time again you will see players in a group looking at the same items time and time again without any discussion to contribute to the group. Communication in an escape room is important to make efficient use of time and to ensure everyone remains on the same page.
Every now and then I’ll have a group say, “we argue a lot”. Now it is no surprise to me when I find groups having disagreements when working through an adventure. But every now and then I find a member or two of a group that refuses to help another player in their group which blows my mind. The goal of the game is to cooperate together as one and solve the room. There is no plot twist or secretive point system that an individual can earn on their own merit. Cooperation among all team member ensures everyone is able to succeed.
When you see a room start up from my point of view you are able to quickly determine the “alpha” players in the group. Sometimes this can be a good thing. If they are good leaders and delegate tasks as things begin to unfold in a room, it helps groups stay on task and stay efficient with their time. But other times you have the type that think all of their solutions are correct and constantly shoot down the thoughts of others. It amazes me when I hear one player discuss the correct solution to solving a puzzle and get shot down by another player in the group before that solution is implemented. In an escape room, different people will view puzzles and challenges in different ways. Groups are most successful when everyone’s point of view is considered with equal importance.
While many of these assessments sound like negative moments and occurrences in fact they are quite insightful. My favorite moment when running an adventure for a group is the conclusion. Whether the group wins or loses there comes an incredible moment of discussion time afterwards. As a game master running the room, I get to step in and debrief with a group about what they just experienced. A flurry of emotions from the group unfolds. I can only describe what they’re feeling as a sense of wonderment. To read their body language before they enter the room to when they leave is so often night and day.
As a group departs the facility, they’re often jabbering away at what they just experienced together, with their phones tucked away and firmly connected with those around them. When it was no more than just an hour earlier seeing the same group walk in completely different. A quarter of them occupied with their phone, the other few not really excited about being dragged into this experience, and the often one lone culprit who convinced everyone to jump into this adventure to begin with. It really captures a fascinating before and after picture that I haven’t seen in any other setting over such a brief amount of time.
When is the last time you had a real moment with your family, your friends, or even your co-workers? A moment where you put away all distractions and shared a time together. A moment completely made you feel like you accomplished something unique together and learned a little something new about each other. Perhaps an escape adventure would be a great change of pace away from the norm of just going to the movies or sitting in front of the TV watching a show and calling that family time.