When looking for a local Haunted House or Escape Room while traveling, I found lots of websites attempting to keep up with current listings. Haunted Houses and Escape Rooms usually have seasonal or evening operational hours. Some are open just for a few months, others are open year round. Most of these entities don’t keep their websites up to date after the season concludes. It is good to have a few listing websites bookmarked to quickly find a regional business. While traveling to different cities for business, I find visiting the occasional haunt or escape room with co-workers builds relationships with team members. Many co-workers have never experienced either type thrill.

One listing site that stands out is the The Scare Factor, a review website for Haunted Houses and Escape Rooms. They seem to keep up to date information and have a wide range of listings to help you find the most popular and also the most obscure attractions.It has a reputable website reputation, as these types of sites go. It is worth bookmarking this site for future reference.

My first experience with a computer adventure game was Zork. I played Zork on a Commodore-64 back in the 80’s. It was already a classic. It only had a command line interface and originally was developed for midsize (DEC PDP) computers on college campuses.

You entered commands at the prompt, similar to a DOS command line prompt. It understood “go north”, “pick up knife”, “drink potion”, “open door”. It had all sorts of puzzles and mysteries that needed to be solved. Like a book, it left much of the visualization to your imagination.

Zork Map

           Figure 1-1 (A map of the Zork empire)

One puzzle I remember that many other games had copied in later years was the “slide the paper under the door and poke the key out from the opposite side of the keyhole.” Basically you are locked behind a door and can see something in the keyhole. You assume it is the key. You happen to find a newspaper and stick in under the opposite side of the door and poke loose the key so it drops on the paper so you can retrieve it by pulling it back to your side of the door. You then unlock the door using the key.

King's Quest was one of the first graphic adventure games that seemingly had an entire production crew of writers, illustrators, similar to a movie production.. It had an elaborate backstory and quest (mission). A lot of the game was inspired by fairy tales and many of the puzzle solutions were inspired by these tales. A player with prior knowledge of the tales would have an advantage. But if the player didn’t have any knowledge of them, they could figure things out with other clues within the game.

Kings Quest Clue Puzzle

           Figure 1-2 (a puzzle in King's Quest)

Video games have changed graphically over the years, but the basic components remain the same. A good backstory, the idea of mystery or secrets that need to be solved, challenging puzzles, and a feeling of accomplishment.

Escape Rooms add the element of time or urgency to the game play. Not everyone wins in a 60 minute time frame.

 

For those who have not experienced an escape room, here are some example puzzles that you may have seen or encountered that might resonate with you.

Remember the “Water Jug Riddle /Puzzle” from the movie Die Hard 3? It went something like

You've got to defuse a bomb by placing exactly 4 gallons of water on a sensor. The problem is, you only have a 5 gallon jug and a 3 gallon jug on hand. How do you accomplish this? The answer involves getting the right amount of water in the 5-gallon jug. Does this ring a bell? This is exactly the type of puzzle that you might need to solve in an escape room.

Die Hard Water Jug

          Figure 1-1 (Die Hard 3 water jug puzzle)

How about the Indiana Jones movies, there were lots of puzzles in the Raiders of the Lost Ark. Remember the staff scene, where the length of the staff with the head piece revealed the Well of Souls once the sun shined through it while in the map room?

Staff of Ra

          Figure 1-2 (Staff of Ra Puzzle)

The National Treasure movies were all about secrets and clues to solve puzzles left by the Knights Templar. These types of clues that lead to solving puzzles that lead to more clues and more puzzles. This is the kind of excitement and success that awaits you in a good escape room.

National Treasure Puzzle

          Figure 1-3 (National Treasure Puzzle)

The Da Vinci Code is another good movie to draw from. Century old conspiracy theories, spies, secret orders, all set up a good escape room correlation.

What’s keep you from the fun? Join us for an escape room experience!

Music, clothing, pop culture and entertainment trends seem to make it to the midwest last. We are influenced by the west and east coasts and a lot more these days by social media. Escape Rooms have been around for a while, the first one created in Japan in 2007.

Escape Rooms started in the US around 2012. The initial rooms starting in the west. The midwest is still waiting for Steam Punk to catch on. We are still waiting for the term escape room to be a commonly known term in Indiana.

When marketing an escape room, it seems like only a few know what it is. A good elevator speech is hard to come up with. People want to know if it is scarey, is it dangerous, does it requires physical strength and endurance. It is hard to get through to people that have no context on what an escape room and its purpose.

Simply put.

  • It is a game, real-life adventure game.
  • More mental effort is needed than physical.
  • There is a 60 minute time limit.
  • The object of the game is to escape (solve all of the puzzles in the allotted time).
  • You have help, your friends or other participants playing to reach the same goal.
  • 4-10 players (participants) is common.
  • You play with friends, co-workers, and/or strangers.
  • You are “pretend” locked in a room(s) and your objective is to unlock the lock, escaping.
  • The room contains clues. Clues in plain sight, clues hidden, clues locked away.
  • Using teamwork and problem solving, all of the participants solve puzzles to escape.
  • Clues can lead to solving puzzles that result in new clues that require more puzzle solving.
  • Some rooms have more than one room.
  • Many clues result in combination numbers or letters to open locks. Locks to doors, cabinets, briefcases, boxes, etc.
  • Puzzles include ciphers, decoder rings, maps, morse code, etc. Anything that can be solved or a tool to solve a puzzle.
    Fun.