Growing up my favourite film was Jim Henson’s Labyrinth with Jennifer Connelly and David Bowie. (So much so that our youngest fluff ball is called Ludo, named after the biggest fluffiest character from the film). When I met my now husband, Ross, he was delighted to see we had this favourite film in common.
My obsession with this film stems from my dads own enjoyment of it. He used to talk us through the riddles and puzzles as kids and he got me in to brain teasers, logic puzzles, IQ tests, Mensa puzzles, anything that challenged our powers of perception, logic and deduction.
And yet... despite being the man who lit the fire of passion for puzzles within me, when I told my dad I was opening an escape room business he replied, "A what?"
Could it really be true that the source of my excitement, the driving inquisitive voice in my head, the man who taught me to always ‘figure it out’ had never heard of the most exciting, engaging and immersive puzzling/logic experience to have ever been developed? Yes. Apparently so! And now, I realise, there are loads of you! These poor innocent souls who have either never heard of an ‘exit game’, ‘escape room’, ‘puzzle game’ ‘breakout room’... whatever you call them...or you’ve heard of them but have yet to experience the thrilling, frustrating exhilaration of taking part!
I can pretty much guarantee you know someone who has completed an escape room, ask around. It’s like a secret club that everyone is welcome to join and once you have, you’ll have the bug. You can’t complete ‘just one’ escape room; it’s addictive and for so many different reasons. For some it’s the bragging rights, or the need to improve, or the camaraderie (or, if you’re anything like me, it’s the opportunity to call your partner an idiot for an hour straight and get away with it) whatever the symptoms, the outcome is the same, you’ll want to have another go... and another... and another!
"What ARE they though?" My dads next question. Closely followed by "Why would you do another once you’ve done one?". I could give a million answers to the second question so I shall simply say this, give one a try. Give ours a try! (Shameless escape room plugging!)
What are they? Well, that’s *slightly* more straightforward. The premise is simple. You will be locked/shut/confined for a pre-determined period of time in a ‘room’ and you will be set an objective to complete within the time frame. Traditionally you would have 60 minutes to escape the room using puzzles, mazes, clues, intuition and trial and error. I say traditionally because the industry has blown this concept wide open with possibilities. Every room you encounter will have its own rules, it’s own themes, it’s own objective and, particularly with independent companies, it will have its own quirks and charm.
So why are you still sitting there? If you really want to find out what the fuss is about, get out there and try one! Grab a mate, or four, and go get yourselves locked in a bunker, a prison cell, go investigate a cold case, get in the middle of a zombie apocalypse! The opportunities are endless!
Just don’t ask my dad to go to one yet, he’s going to be our test subject for our horror room, after all, he has no idea what he’s getting himself in to, and how easy to manipulate and terrify him is that going to be!
If you’re interested in popping your cherry with us keep your eyes peeled on our Instagram, Facebook, website, Twitter...
So! We dragged my dad along to his first Escape Room... The Escapement in Margate, we had so much fun we completed both their rooms, one after the other. Safe to say he enjoyed it, as I knew he would! (You can witness the outcomes on their Facebook page)
Our team consisted of me and Ross, my mum, my brother Roy (Hi Roy!), and my dad.
First we tried the Polaris Pirate room and we ran over the 60 minutes by 16 seconds. But it was incredibly fun and immersive. Annnnd maybe a little tiny bit frustrating.
Well. In all honesty, the reason we failed to escape was my parents fault.
Lets just say there was a tricky final puzzle, which we finally established my mum was the weak link on, the woman can't follow direction. My dad was just spectating at this point as there wasn't a required role for him, and my goodness was he enjoying himself. At the point we all realised my mum was utterly useless and was costing us valuable time and effort due to her ineptitude (I get really frustrated, really quickly, can you tell?) we called upon my dad to take over. He refused, due to the fact he was far too amused at watching my mum try and repeatedly fail.
Actually, to be fair, in hindsight it was entirely my dads fault that we failed to escape, owing to his sadistic enjoyment of watching my mum. He sabotaged us.
Our second room was a triumph. I will never tire of telling anyone who will listen how we achieved the 5th fastest time for their Exodus room. And even then my dad managed to delay our time. This time was due to his poor eyesight and pedantic nature. I can't say more without revealing vital room detail.
My final thought on my dad and escape rooms? Yes, he enjoyed it, and yes he's probably going to want to do many, many more... but he won't be doing them with me, if I can help it.
Top Tip: If a team members primary motive is their own entertainment, not the teams escape, they're nothing but a liability!
I can't wait to stick him in one of our rooms and if he starts misbehaving, I might really lock him in....