Now that you know what an escape room is, you’re probably asking Google for ‘escape room games’ and now you have plenty of choices! Honestly, maybe too many. Simply searching ‘escape rooms’ could lead you to our friends Crack the Code Escape Room in Virginia, or The Eureka Room in Bellingham. There are several things to consider when searching for escape rooms.
When looking for an escape room, the first thing to consider is capacity. How many people do you think will be in your party? Just you, or you and thirteen other people? Escape rooms for the most part have a designated maximum, usually for safety reasons, so consider that, but also keep in mind that most will also have a large quantity of things to do in a short amount of time. Some games scale the content to fit the group size!
With that information in mind, now it’s time to start Googling. Specificity is the simplest and easiest way to find nearby escape rooms. Instead of your ‘escape room’ search, try plugging in a city, or even adding ‘near me’. Searching ‘Seattle escape rooms near me’ will be much more fruitful for games you can actually visit.
You’ll see a lot of sponsored links in the top search results, before the actual company websites. But you will also be able to find their entries for Facebook, TripAdvisor, Google Reviews, or Yelp, and those are a great way to judge the experience of players before you, as well as the personality of the company if they’ve responded to the reviews. Most often, good responses to bad reviews let you know the company understands where their clients are frustrated, and that they’re willing to work with them to solve the problems- if any- the client had.
These, along with the companies’ websites, will also give you an idea of the themes their rooms are based around. Whether it’s Egyptian mummies or ghostly pirates, through their location photos, their customers’ tags and their group pictures. The company’s website should be considered as well, for usability and ease of booking. If the website design is well-thought out and booking is clean and simple, the room may also be well-thought out. Disorganization and unprofessionalism is hard to cover up.
One final resource: escape room review sites! They may be niche, but escape rooms are quickly growing popular, and with popularity comes reviews. I love the Room Escape Artist blog and review site. David and Lisa are excellent reviewers and are a great resource for finding games that fit your preference. I also recommend the Escape Room Tips blog; William has a great scoring system for players both new and experienced.
- Tailor your searches to specifics, like your city, or ‘near me’
- Check review sites and blogs for previous players’ opinions, and how bad reviews were handled
- Pick a room theme that you like
- Explore the company’s website; disorganized or confusing content bodes poorly for their games
- Don’t be afraid to email or call and leave a message!
- It’s okay to ask for a special time or private game; they may say yes!
What if you can’t get a babysitter, or your kids are interested in coming with? Easy enough! Just search ‘family friendly escape room games’ to your google search and it will net you games that are great for kids ages 12 and up. As someone who’s run thousands of kids, adults and whole families through games, I’ll let you in on a little secret. I don’t want to shout, so come closer… closer… KIDS ARE GREAT AT ESCAPE GAMES! Our rooms are frequented by groups of 12-year-olds for birthday parties, and family-friendly games and are easy to run. Some kids need fewer clues, win more regularly, and win faster than all-adult teams. I do recommend contacting the company beforehand and asking if it’s age appropriate for your kids.
Why? I think it’s because as we get older, we gain more experience, but it also makes us jump to conclusions and think too outside the box, which leads to getting off track or making connections that aren’t necessarily feasible. Meanwhile, kids in school are taught to read, comprehend and then follow their directions to the letter, which gives them a very methodical, practical thought process. Kids also ask for help more frequently, which keeps them from getting stuck too long, like some adult groups do. Adults are great and may be better problem solvers for some things over others, but sometimes a fresh-faced whippersnapper just sees the answers we adults overlook.
Are kids better than adults in Puzzle room games? Probably not, but sometimes they are as Paula Swann describes on the Facebook group “Escape room enthusiasts”
Paula recounts her experience with this story “Last year when my son was 10, he kept trying to tell us that putting a bottle of water in front of a picture, changed the direction because he’d learned that in school (or from a book). I kept telling him he was wrong and to stop interrupting while we tried to solve this puzzle. The Game Master got so annoyed with me brushing him off that she put on the clue screen, “LISTEN TO THE KID!!” … My son has gotten a lot of use out of that quote for the past year!”
But the best reason to play escape games with your kids is that you will build some great memories with them. You may not win the game but you can’t lose if you involve your kids.
When not wearing a paper pirate hat and making silly faces, Seth Wolfson is the co-owner and creative director of Hourglass Escapes in Seattle. He has been in the film and theme park industry since 1989 and has worked for Universal Studios, Disney, Ripley’s Believe It or Not Wax Figure Shop, and more. His work can be seen at makeupfxartist and you can hear him speak on art, make-up effects and escape rooms on the podcast Original Lines episode #5 or on an episode of “So you’re in Seattle” with Gregr and 107.7 The End. See his other blogs here.