On Monday, I nearly considered dubbing this games week on the blog. But if I’d wanted to do that, I should have been more considered with what I was going to post. I may still do a themed week at some point…but that week is not this one. Not quite. Instead we get three posts (Mondays on Tabletop Day, Yesterday’s about Vintage Puzzles) that are all about play in one form or another. Today is about an activity that I’ve done twice now, and would happily do again, and that’s an Escape Room!
A quick search through my email tells me that I first heard about escape rooms in 2014, and it was likely in December. Back then I told the Boy that we should do one, and he was on board. And then we did one for my birthday last year, and it was so much fun. And a week or so before we did it, Felicia Day did one too, and I was so jealous that she had beaten me to it (even though I would be doing one so soon!).
The premise is that you and your friends pay money to be locked into a room for somewhere between 30 minutes and an hour. There are all kinds of hidden clues in your room that will help you figure out how to unlock it. There’s usually a theme (last year’s was a double agent spy), and you must use all the clues to figure out what you’re doing. It can be really difficult, and more people isn’t necessarily better. But it does help to have a few brains working on any particular problem so you don’t get stuck. But the more people you put in a small-ish room…the less space there is.
So when I suggested to my 20s and 30s group from church that maybe we should do an Escape Room, (really – this was my way of trying to find other people to do it with me) I was excited when so many other people jumped at the chance! After much back and forth coordinating of calendars we finally picked a date, and found a group of five of us who would meet up at Escape Room Live in Alexandria to try and defeat the room known as Moriarty’s Madness!
You can’t take pictures in the room itself, but this screenshot from the virtual tour of their facility is pretty evocative. We had 45 minutes to escape. There wasn’t anything scary in the room, but occasionally one of the clues popped out in a way that was surprising, and as a person who startles easily, I definitely shrieked a couple times. Part of the fun of Escape Rooms is engaging your brain in a new way and trying to focus on your particular puzzle while someone else focuses on theirs, and then finding a way to put those answers together. It’s also fun trying to figure out what is a real clue, and what’s a red herring. My personal challenge in these kinds of situations is to not take over. Having done one before, our group initially looked to me to be “the leader”, and while that can be fun…it’s also nice to just be a group together. So I tried to do well, but not be the one doing all the clues, because that would be selfish. It’s more fun to escape as a group, and that’s what we did.
That’s right – we got out (for the one on my birthday last year, we did not, but were SO CLOSE). For this room, we only needed one hint, and that was because we had done the correct thing, but the system behind it didn’t work quite right, and so we were prodded to go back and try again. We had just under 9 minutes remaining, but as you can see from the leader board above…we were nowhere near the record for a team of five. 23 minutes remaining is RIDICULOUS. That’s less than half the time used. I don’t even know how they did that.
Anyways – we had so much fun. SO much fun that our group decided we would do one of these again, and encourage more people to join us. And it’s definitely not my last escape room. I coincidentally chatted with a friend last night about doing another room in DC soon, and I recently backed an “Escape Room in a Box,” so expect a review of that sometime early next year. This is definitely an activity I recommend. It’s a fun team-building experience, and a great chance to prove your puzzle smarts. Even if you’re not in the DC area…chances are that there’s an Escape Room somewhere near you. Happy puzzling!
Details: Escape Room Live Locations in Alexandria and Glover Park (Georgetown location coming soon!)
814 King Street, 2nd Floor, Alexandria, VA 22314; Book online
2300 Wisconsin Ave. NW, Suites G-101 & 102, Washington, DC; Book online