We here at Riddle Room have been running escape rooms in Minneapolis for about five years now, and in that time we’ve noticed a few patterns. The strange thing is, all the best pieces of advice for how to be good at escape rooms are also the best pieces of advice for how to be good at life. There are five things.
Don’t be a jerk.
Let’s say you were working on a thing on the floor. You had it all laid out and you were really getting it done. But then someone else comes along, doesn’t see you on the floor there, and kicks all your hard work across the room and steps on your hand in the process. That person is inconsiderate and unobservant! But here’s the thing: you are not the hand stepping police. It’s not your job to exact revenge on someone who was thoughtless and oblivious. Chances are they didn’t even know they were oblivious (corollary to that: by definition, you have no way of knowing how often you have been an oblivious, thoughtless person). Your job is not to withhold information from them, or to bad-mouth them to your other teammates. Your job is to move on and not be a jerk about it. Let them know what they did if you need to, but the less kind and helpful you are, the less kind and helpful people will want to be to you.
If you see something interesting, tell someone.
You work hard to open a box. The combination was not easy to decipher, the lock was complicated to figure out, and it did not go at all as you had planned… but you did it! And there’s something inside! Sure, you could shrug and walk away without telling anyone. But why? Why are you doing that? Tell everyone who can hear you. It will feel great to let people know you have figured something out and it might help them in ways you don’t realize.
You have to keep moving.
The puzzle is solved, your friends have been notified, everyone has celebrated. But now you’re onto the next thing and it’s not going your way. You’re spinning your wheels on something that is not moving forward and you’ve been at it for probably too long. I have news for you: spinning your wheels for the rest of the allotted hour won’t do the trick. Move on. Work on something else. Maybe you don’t have everything you need and maybe the puzzle is not what you’re best at. Or maybe you just need to take a break and come back to it. Grinding at the thing that isn’t working will only waste your time and the time of everyone around you.
Ask for help.
Teams exist for a reason and that reason is called BEING HELPFUL. But none of us are mind readers, so if you need help (and let’s not kid ourselves: you do, I do, we all do) ASK FOR IT. One of the best things in escape rooms is working together with someone else and figuring something out together. Neither of you could have done it on your own, but together you did it. But help doesn’t just show up: you must ask for it. Every time.
The only person who thinks you look like an idiot is you
You’re doing something new and it feels weird. You’re self conscious because you don’t think you’re supposed to talk out loud as much as you are, to no one in particular but also to everyone at once. You’re saying made up words that are attributed way more importance than a made up word should have, and you have to take it seriously. You feel like an idiot. But guess what: everyone else also feels like an idiot. All that energy you’re spending on feeling like an idiot yourself is blinding you to how ridiculous everyone else is acting and the fact that you don’t care. Spend less energy on feeling like an idiot and you’ll do a lot better.