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Race to Escape

Photography by Jeff Zorabedian

Escape Rooms are the latest craze — a fun and brain-stretching array of clues, puzzles, and physical challenges that players must solve within a certain period of time to escape from a room they are locked in. Before the game begins, a game master briefs the players and gives them the rules of the game. Then the door is closed and locked, and the countdown begins.

Players quickly begin to explore the room, looking for clues. There are usually numbers, symbols, and pictures on the walls, but no obvious explanation for why they’re there. The players must search through drawers, boxes, pockets, and underneath and behind furniture, looking for a way to begin. The team members call out what they’ve found and try to figure out how the clues come together.

The solution to one puzzle will lead to something else — it may be a code for a padlock, the first step to another puzzle, a door that opens to another room, or simply a red herring. If they’re stuck, there’s usually a way for the team to get a hint to help them continue. As time ticks on, the puzzles become more complex, often feeding into a final puzzle that will provide the team with the key or code needed to open the door and escape.

You can create your own adventure story and invite others to be a part of it. Ready? Here’s what you need to do:

  1. Create a storyline that fits the theme and setting. A storyline will give the escape room challenge a direction to go in. Perhaps your players have to leave the room to deliver top secret intelligence — or they might have to break into a room to successfully defuse a bomb. Whatever the storyline, make sure it’s easily digestible to your players.
  2. Add some puzzles. The puzzles should challenge your players, but they should also be fun and enjoyable; they shouldn’t be too frustrating to solve. Alternate easier puzzles with more complicated ones to keep the momentum going. Puzzles include deciphering codes, untangling backward messages, and solving riddles.
  3. Choose props to make your escape room authentic. For example, use candles to add a historical or spooky theme; put glow sticks in clear containers around the room to create a futuristic vibe; or add branches, rocks, and dirt to create the feeling of a forest or cave. Don’t forget smells, textures, sounds, and even tastes, which can be used to enhance the realism of your story. Employ objects that look like decorations but are actually tools for solving a puzzle, such as a calculator on an office worker’s desk, a credit card that can be used to open a lock, or a magnet that can be used to retrieve an essential item such as a key.

Set the timer to the allotted amount of time and let the tension heat up! Let your players know that they can receive up to three hints throughout the challenge. (It would be pretty unusual for players to complete the challenge without any help along the way!)

(Excerpted from Family First, Issue 619)



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