Even if you (and your wallet) haven’t fallen head over heals into the board game craze, chances are you know someone that has. This, after all, is a ‘golden age of board games’; each year, thousands of new board games are launched—and these aren’t your grandparent’s careworn copies of Monopoly and Life. You remember those games, right? The dusty ones splattered with the tears of childhood trauma?
These modern board games break new ground with clever and innovative gameplay. In fact, if you’re still bitter over the time your sister snatched up all the good spots in Catan with a few lucky rolls, or the time Grandpa laughed at you when he rolled yet another Yahtzee, many of these new board games not only let you avoid those childhood ‘feel bads’ by prioritizing cooperation over competition, but they also let you sidestep the luck of those older games by challenging your wit and ability to problem solve.
It’s here at the crossroads of cooperation and problem solving where board games and escape rooms meet. But unlike board games, where much of the “action” is experienced internally, as one player after another plots their turn, escape rooms are tactile puzzles full of discovery and deduction. Few board games can rival the feeling of your entire family or network of friends meandering through a set of devious puzzles and riddles together. I’ll never forget the moment my shy sister burst out of her shell by shouting loud enough to wake the dead that she had the answer to the lock the rest of the family had spent nearly ten minutes agonizing over. I won’t forget the moment I took a step back and saw my friends playfully poking fun at each other over their shared inability to solve a problem. And I certainly won’t forget the many times I’ve been a single clue away from escaping, watching the time tick down to zero, and the whole room exploding with laughter as we won or lost.
So what’s my point? It’s definitely not to slander board games, because I love them more than most. But a good escape room offers something no boxed game I’ve played can: an expansive, inclusive, story-driven, puzzle-packed, laugh-out-load experience that’s always fun, whether we win or lose. And because of what they have in common, board games are a natural stepping-stone to escape rooms. If you love one, chances are you’re going to flip for the other. So take a couple hours away from the gaming table, grab a few friends, or your family, or co-workers, and challenge yourself to an escape room!