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Confessions of a Game Master

When playing an escape room, have you ever wondered what your Game Master was thinking? In this brutally honest article, you get to dive deep into the thoughts of an escape room Game Master.

If you think we’re laughing at you, we probably are.

We’re human too, guys. Sometimes you miss the obvious, sometimes you make silly mistakes, and so yes, we laugh.  Don’t take it personally though, we laugh at almost every game.  In fact, sometimes it is more fun to watch than to play!  You keep us entertained and excited to go to work at an escape room.  Plus, every room we play we know we are entertaining our Game Master…

If we ask if you want a clue, you really need a clue. You’re probably way off in left field.

desertOur job as a Game Master is to help ensure you have a fantastic and fun experience.  We do not like to see you frustrated, and we are cheering for your success. We’ll do our best to nudge you back on track by offering some advice from us all-seeing game masters. Don’t worry, asking for a clue isn’t a sign of weakness – even the most skilled escapees need some guidance. If you get a suggestion, embrace it and take the clue.  It’ll make your experience more fun.

Consider our advice if we suggest an escape room for your team to play. 

We know our rooms – and one may be a better fit for your team.  In our Charlotte escape room facility, we recommend West for families with younger children and for first-time escapees. Precinct, on the other hand, is better for experienced players seeking a challenge. We always aim to make your team’s experience outstanding, but if you have a less experienced group and opt for a difficult room, it can be harder to ensure you have a great time.  In that instance, we’ll likely be much more aggressive in providing clues to help keep you moving through puzzles.  But generally, if you align into the better room for your team, your team is more likely to have a memorable and challenging time without getting frustrated.

If you say you don’t need any hints, you’re probably wrong.

Whether it is your first or 50th escape room, virtually everyone can benefit from some guidance. Our rooms are built to be challenging. We do our best to align our clues and hints to point you in a direction, without spoiling any of the “ah ha!” satisfaction of solving a puzzle.  Often, if you dial down your ego and allow us to give you a nudge, you’ll have the opportunity to solve more puzzles in a room, creating more of those cool “ah ha!” moments.

We know “book-smart” may not beat “street-smart” in an escape room.

Even though it sounds backwards, sometimes common-sense trumps book-sense. Having a genius friend may be great, but she may miss a less obvious, but simpler solution.  One of the biggest mistakes people make is to overthink a problem. “Hang on – I need a 5-letter code, and the lock is close to a US map, and its the first lock in the room – so I probably need to figure out which of the original colonies is five letters long!  Let me google that!”  Uh, no.  Maybe you should try “state”.  Hey, don’t get us wrong – playing with Einstein and DaVinci could be great fun.  But you may find that the resourceful Bear Grylls of the world will help your team even more.

We can get frustrated sometimes.

We see you try to figure out a puzzle, but something blocks you from completing it. Behind the scenes, we’re biting our nails in anticipation. We want you to succeed. You are so close! We are cheering you on!  Then you give up and move on.  Or even worse – you think of a solution – but don’t actually try it!  We groan, sigh, or even (ever so quietly…) scream because of it.  If you ever get a “I think you were on the right track earlier” clues, it is probably is veiling a “hey, just try it!!!” sentiment behind the scenes.

We get just as excited as you when you complete a puzzle.

When you solve that puzzle you were stuck on for 10 minutes, we cheer for you and your determination. When you are on that last puzzle in the room, with just seconds left, we nervously wring our hands awaiting your success.

We are rooting for you. We want you to succeed!

Even though we make fun of you, we are on your side. We strive to make sure you are having the best experience by helping you along the way when needed. A game master’s job at an escape room is successful only if the team has a great time.  Win or lose, our goal is that everyone has fun and gets the satisfaction of helping solve a tough puzzle.

Resetting the room can be a pain.

No one thinks about what happens after they escaped the room. One of the biggest duties as a game master is to reset the room for the next group. That means putting each clue back in its spot, locking all the locks with the correct info inside, and cleaning up the room so it looks perfect. It is time consuming and the biggest pain of the job.  Sometimes teams make it easy – creating a central pile for solved puzzles and used keys, or leaving keys in their locks.  Other times, it looks like an F5 twister just came through.

We know the puzzles by heart, we could do the room blindfolded.

By game mastering the room and resetting each time, we get to know every nook and cranny in that room. We know all the codes to the locks, all the puzzle solutions and where all the keys are placed. In fact, it actually sounds boring – but in practice, every group brings a unique take on the room, making things exciting.

So now you know some of our secrets!  Hopefully this gave you a peek into what happens on the other side of the cameras and mics. Does it sound like fun?  Come in and chat with us! We are often looking for great folks to join the team.  And if you still just want to play – come in and whisper the secret phrase (“you blog like a BOSS”) to your game master during your briefing.  You may just get a few extra minutes to make your escape! 

Works for Timed Out Escape as Game Master, Audio Designer, and Writer