When you’re young, (say, under 100 years old), self-esteem is a big thing. You spend time trying to protect it, improve it and generally finding a way to feel ok about yourself. That’s, at least in part, why you always want to win.
If you’ve lived in Atlanta more than 20 minutes now, you’ve seen these places called escape rooms pop up all over town. It’s a simple concept really, where your group is taken into a specially themed room, and you’re given a series of puzzles and clues to solve in order to escape the room. You’re usually only given 60 minutes. It’s the fastest hour of your life, and the real challenge is to leave with your self-esteem intact.
But, it’s more than just protecting your self-esteem really. The average rate of escape for escape games around Atlanta hovers around 30%. That’s an amazing little statistic when you think about it. That means that any escape game you play, you’ll be facing some daunting challenges.
That’s why we’ve assembled the largest list of tips and tricks for how to escape an escape room we’ve seen yet. We understand. You’ve worked hard on yourself. We want to help you to continue to feel good about you.
Before we give you our list of secrets however, we want to provide a brief disclaimer. No matter what escape game you play- whether you pick an escape game in Atlanta or somewhere else, the tips and tricks below are valid. We’re not going to give away any specifics about any escape room in particular, so the strategies and tactics below will be useful no matter where you go to play an escape game.
Also, understand that we feel qualified to compile this list because we’re one of the oldest escape games in Atlanta. We’ve seen thousands of people play our escape rooms, so we’re sitting on a pile of experience. We’ve seen the worst as well as the best escape room players.
Whether you are interested in playing an escape game to see what it’s all about or for some sort of team building activity, this is a really great way to bring people closer together in a really fun way.
Escape Room Tips & Tricks
These are listed in the order they occurred to us, so, here’s our list of ideas about how to escape the room:
- Communicate– we always encourage this in everything you do, but during an escape room, communication becomes vital. Talk to your team frequently, clearly and loudly so everyone can hear.
- Plan– teams that do well in escape rooms have a battle plan going in. While this is smart, it might have been Colin Powell who once said, “No battle plan survives contact with the enemy.” This means, develop your plan but be flexible once the clock starts.
- Don’t Forget The Clock– you only have 60 minutes in our escape rooms, and that time goes by really quickly. When you think about the difficulty of the clues, you’ll need every minute.
- Wear a watch– some escape rooms have more than one room which means you can’t always see the clock ticking down. Having a watch and checking it periodically helps keep you on track.
- Dress Comfortably– now, you won’t be doing burpees in our escape rooms, but you may have a need to sit on the floor or look high and low. Doing all that in a three-piece suit may not work for you.
- Alcohol– while we’re big fans, we don’t recommend you come to our escape rooms wasted. Any person living in a college town will tell you that alcohol makes people stupid sometimes and with an escape game, like many aspects of life, there is just no reward for stupid.
- Gather Clues– over time, we’ve seen groups of players hoard clues which never helps. Part of good communication is letting everyone know about all the clues, so everyone has a chance to put the pieces together.
- Divide Up– when you first start playing the escape game, there’s a tendency for everyone to want to do everything all at once. It’s a good idea to divide up parts of the rooms into zones to look for clues.
- Call Out Clues– again with the communication stuff! Successful teams call out clues that they find which can help others put pieces together. This may seem awkward, but it really helps people bring what they’re working on together.
- Know When To Give Up– We all have our gifts. Some are better with numbers. Others are better at words. Some are just better left out (just kidding!). If you’re not a numbers person and you find yourself developing beads of sweat while working on a numeric puzzle, tag someone else in when you get stuck.
- Decide Going In About Accepting Clues– We’ve seen a lot of groups go in where there’s one guy who wants to solve everything without any hints. The problem is the rest of the group wants to escape at any cost. This can lead to time wasted arguing about whether or not you’re going to accept any clues. Tick tock people!
- Play With Friends or Coworkers– It’s always better if you can play an escape game with people you know. The reason is you don’t have to spend time reading them, getting to know them or anything that might waste time. Plus, when you play with people you know, you have a sense already about their strengths and weaknesses. You can account for those and move forward faster.
- Work Where They Ain’t– poor grammar aside, people tend to cluster. When that happens, spread out and pick up pieces that aren’t being considered. It can move the entire group along faster.
- Spectators Aren’t Helpers– While there is temptation to stop and watch the action (because, after all, it IS cool), just remember that if you’re spending time watching, you’re not actually DOING anything to move the group along. Congratulations, you’ve just become a team liability. Get in there!
- Make Piles– once clues are used and no longer needed, toss them into a discard pile. Keep the clues & puzzles that haven’t been used or solved together because you never know when a piece of one thing helps solve a part of another.
- Stay Organized– it’s always a good idea to keep similar clues together to help members of your group focused and this always saves time.
- Never Use Force– keep in mind that you’re not the first person to ever try this escape room. That means all the puzzles have been solved, and there is a solution to everything. If something doesn’t work, forcing it will only break it, so that’s clearly not the answer. Don’t be that guy.
- Stay Positive- nobody wants to work with Doug or Debbie Downer. See your success. Be your success. Ok, we’re starting to sound like Tony Robbins.
- Be Thorough But Not Goofy- Search the room completely but not like a crazy person. You don’t need to start lifting ceiling tiles or use power tools to take things apart. Whatever you’re supposed to find, you will, in fact, be able to find without a jackhammer or rezoning permits.
- Decide Together When To Ask For Help- at Three Keys Escape Games, we give up to 3 “keys” or hints to help the group keep their momentum. Decide as a group when to ask for a clue from the game master. Don’t collectively decide to stay stuck.
- Ignore Some Stuff- not everything is a clue. Sometimes a book is, in fact, just a book. It’s easy to waste time on stuff that won’t help you solve anything. Remember the clock.
- Work Fast AND Smart- when faced with combinations, try logical ideas, but don’t linger over what doesn’t work. When watching games, we’ve seen people act incredulous when their idea doesn’t work while the clocks ticks away. We’ve also seen people try the same solutions over and over again. If it didn’t work the first time, it’s not going to suddenly and magically become the right answer. We promise.
- Solve What You Need- with some puzzles, it’s not always necessary to solve the entire puzzle to move forward. We’re not sure we’ve mentioned it, but you only have so much time; so if you have enough of the puzzle to get to the next thing, keep moving!
- Nurture Your Inner Spock– escape games tend to follow a logical course. Ideas like Occam’s Razor (the simplest solution is most often the right one) are super useful.
- Balanced Thinking Wins– always keep the big picture in mind to balance with the “smaller” picture of the puzzles and tasks at hand. We see a lot of players get lost in the details of the puzzles and clues only to lose sight of why they’re trying to solve all this stuff anyway.
- Leggo My Ego– everyone wants to contribute, but we’ve seen players try to be the hero by trying to solve everything themselves. This is typically a recipe for failure. Accept help when you hit a rough patch, and don’t take your struggle personally. You’re not the first and your definitely not the worst!
- Think Backwards- sometimes, the best way to solve a problem is to consider reverse engineering the problem. Start with the solution and work backwards. It may sound awkward, but it can often lead to thoughts you haven’t had before working on it from the front end.
- Observe, Observe, Observe– one of the coolest things about an escape room is that there can be things there that everyone just misses. Use your powers of observation, and you’ll be surprised what you find.
- Pick Your Team Wisely– Holiday dinners should prove that not all friends and family are created equally. Decide going in if you’re going for super competitive, just to have fun or somewhere in between.
- Pick Your Escape Room Wisely– these days, many escape rooms have an escape rate on their website (well, GOOD escape games do!). Pay attention to those numbers because they’ll tell you something. You can pick a room because of the theme, but just go in eyes wide open about the numbers. It can help set appropriate expectations.
- Lead, Follow AND Get Out Of The Way– when dealing with all the challenges of an escape room, there are times when you need to lead, times when you need to follow and, well, you get it. Pretty straightforward advice actually. Be flexible enough to do all three.
- Never Be Late– if you book an escape room for 6 pm, don’t show up at 6:15 and get mad when they won’t let you in. Once the game begins, it’s disruptive to let new players in. Most escape rooms won’t let late players in- even with really good excuses.
- Always Avoid Outlets– any escape game that includes a clue in an electrical outlet places their players at risk, and that’s just stupid. Thankfully, precious few escape rooms want to pay this kind of insurance payout. Short of plugging normal stuff in, stay away from outlets as a general rule. Consider all outlets clueless.
- Believe The Signs– if the sign says, “Do Not Touch”, then you can be completely sure that thing isn’t part of the game. Leave it alone.
- Take The Right Number Of People- again, helpful escape game websites will give you a guideline on how many players work best in each escape room. It’s a good idea to take just under that number. That way, you’re not running over each other, and everybody stays busy.
- Attend To The Group Dynamics– this one’s really on you. If you take your mother in law to play an escape room and you don’t get along outside the game, things aren’t going to get any better. Playing an escape room is like being on an episode of Survivor without the tribal council. Since you can’t vote anyone out, you have to figure out how to work around players who aren’t contributing.
- Take A Deep Breath. You’ll Be Ok Without Your Cellphone– most escape games don’t permit cell phones inside the escape room (you’re being watched on a closed circuit TV, so don’t even try it. Seriously, you’ll ruin it for everyone). Even if you had your smartphone, it wouldn’t help. You can’t google the combination, correct numeric sequence or answer to a riddle. Just focus on the challenges and you’ll be amazed what an hour off Instagram or Facebook feels like. You’ll get a glimpse into how your parent’s once lived back in ancient times.
- Stay Cool– while this is always good advice, it really applies in an escape room. As your time is coming to a close, you have to stay cool. If you panic, your body dumps adrenaline, which inhibits your mental ability to effectively solve problems. Sure, it’s great if you unlock a box and find a grizzly in the room, but it’s not so helpful to get that last combination solved.
- Don’t Open The Door If All The Puzzles Aren’t Solved– it doesn’t happen often, but sometimes players get anxious or frustrated and leave the room. If one player opens the door, it’s game over for the rest, so again, don’t be that person.
- Practice Frustration Tolerance– it’s just a fact that not everyone can be a ninja. During the course of playing an escape game, nearly everyone runs into a puzzle or problem they can’t solve. It’s ok. Don’t go gonzo. Just keep at it, and ask for help when you need it.
Bonus Secret About Escape Rooms
Here’s a super secret tip about all escape rooms. (Move closer….closer…a little closer…ok, move back, you’re too close). The room is actually NOT locked. We know they say you’re supposed to find all the clues and solve all the puzzles to escape the room, but fire marshals everywhere frown sternly at the notion of locking your customers in a room. So, technically, you could walk out any time, but what where’s the challenge in that?
We hope you’ve found this to be the most helpful list of tips and tricks for success in any escape room around Atlanta. We find that once you try an escape room, they’re so much fun that you want to try others. We have players who have gone through all our games and are in the process of trying all the escape rooms in Atlanta. It’s really a family friendly activity.
Escape Rooms Are The #1 Team Building Activity In Atlanta
It doesn’t matter what type of team you have- sports team, scout troop, sales team, C-suite, church groups, etc, escape games challenge you in a way that few other team building activities do. They force you to work together in a fun, safe way. In fact, all of the characteristics that you need to be successful at work are necessary to escape the room. Here’s a quick list:
- Leadership skills
- Situational awareness
- Deductive reasoning
- Problem solving
- Positive attitude
- Ability to work under pressure
- Logical thinking
- Abstract thinking
- Ability to follow as well as lead
At Three Keys Escape Games, we have a conference room where your team can come, have lunch and talk about the experience you had in the escape room to solidify the “coachable moments” for your team. The skills are directly transferable to the workplace and frankly, escape games are the type of team building activities that HR Directors love. No one goes to the ER. No one calls in sick the next day. It’s a safe and effective way to bring your team together. In fact, many of the teams that come play our escape rooms tell us that we have the best team building activities in Atlanta. (Click here to learn more about team building activities for sales teams in Atlanta)
Atlanta’s Only Escape Room Challenge
It’s pretty clear that around Atlanta, not all escape rooms are the same. There are some cool themes, but we thought it would be a good idea if we could take your team and split them in two- one team goes into one escape room and the rest go in another. Both teams compete to see which team, if either, can escape before the other. That’s why we created our Spy vs Spy escape room challenge.
Both spy escape rooms have their own style and personality as well as their own set of puzzles and clues. But, both have the same relative difficulty level. This leaves us with one question- is your team up for the challenge? Only one way to find out. Book an escape game challenge today.
If you’re up for a challenge and a fantastic way to spend time with people you like, then you’re ready for our escape rooms. Come try ours first, so you have something to measure the other escape games by. People tell us they talk about the experience for weeks afterward.
Three Keys Escape Games has Atlanta’s Favorite Escape Rooms. We have 5 escape rooms and the only escape rooms in Atlanta where you can play against your friends. Book your next escape room adventure today!