Program Idea: Escape the Room Game

You are locked in a room with 11 others. The room is filled with mysterious and puzzling objects. Can you put the pieces together to find the key and escape in one hour?

A few weeks ago, I went with some friends to try Puzzle Break in Seattle, a live escape the room game. I can’t give too much away (spoilers!), but you have to work together to solve puzzles of various sorts to find a way out of the room you are in. This was super fun and I can’t wait until they release the new puzzle, so I can go again. There are also variations in other cities, including SCRAP Entertainment, which puts on events in Japan and on the west coast, and Escape the Room NYC. Adventure Rooms Canada even offers it for classroom groups. I also thought it would make a fun teen library program!

It would take quite a bit of planning to set up a cohesive game, but I think the concept would be easily scalable for a group of teens. I think of it as a mix between a murder mystery game — there should be a cohesive theme or story that the puzzles revolve around — a scavenger hunt, and puzzles. It could be set up in a meeting room, or even done in the whole library after-hours.

According to Wikipedia, these are some common escape the room game tropes to possibly include in a real-life scenario:

  • A wastepaper basket in which or under which is a clue
  • The safe holding an important key or clue
  • The dresser or set of cupboards, whose drawers must be individually searched
  • The bookcase, each of whose books might contain a clue
  • The flat surface whose underside might hold a clue—e.g. tables, chairs or benches
  • The two-sided flat object, such as a poster or painting, whose reverse side holds a clue, tool or key
  • The inexplicable object that the player discovers early in the game, which later turns out to be one of many such parts that combine to form an outlandish but necessary device (e.g. rounded prongs that turn out to be the ears of a toy rabbit that completes a set, thus opening a hidden compartment)
  • The rug whose corners flip over to reveal tools or keys or trapdoors
  • The movable box, chair or table, which either reveals a hidden object or allows the player to reach high shelves and ledges
  • The cushion or pillow that must be slashed open with a knife to reveal some important object inside

If you’ve ever played any of the Professor Layton video games, those would be a great source of puzzle ideas that utilize different learning/thinking styles and are appropriate for a teen audience.

If I get around to implementing this idea in my library, I will share how it goes!

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