What is an Escape Room? A Basic Guide

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What is an escape room? Escape rooms are themed games that require solving puzzles within a time frame to break out of a closed door. These games can be in physical spaces, done virtually on platforms like Zoom, or in a digital format. The purpose of these games is to challenge participants, encourage collaboration, and exercise problem solving skills.

You can also learn about how long escape rooms last.

This article contains:

  • What is an escape room game?
  • How to play escape rooms
  • What is an escape room puzzle?
  • What is an escape room party?
  • What is an escape room business?
  • What is an escape room in education?

Here we go!

What Is An Escape Room Game?

An escape room game, commonly referred to as just an ‘escape room,’ is usually an adventure-filled game involving players working together to solve clues and puzzles. Team players should ensure they solve their puzzles within a limited time to win or break out of a closed door. Usually, escape rooms last for 60 minutes, although some can last as long as three hours.

Most escape rooms have classic breakout themes, with the most common being bank heists, murder mysteries, prison breaks, horror or supernatural occurrences, and zombie outbreaks. There are usually two main versions of escape room games, physical or in-person escape rooms and virtual escape rooms.

1. Physical Escape Room

As the name suggests, the physical escape room is a live version of the game. Here, the game master places players in a physical space or room with the task of moving items and objects and finding hidden clues in the room. Physical escape rooms are trendy because they give players a real-life thrill of what it takes to solve puzzles and overcome challenges.

These rooms are often located in malls or near other attractions like theme parks and restaurants. Some providers even offer mobile escape rooms to bring the challenge to a specified location like an office or event space.

2. Virtual Escape Room

Virtual escape rooms are online versions of the games that players can play from the comfort of their homes. As long as there is an internet connection and a smart device, players can team up and try solving their puzzles to accomplish the goal before the time is up. Participants typically use Zoom, special websites, digital documents, or online portals to play these games. Some online escape rooms involve an actor streaming from a physical escape room with remote players guiding their actions. At the same time, other options are self-led and involve the group answering a series of questions and puzzles on a form.

Learn more about online escape rooms and digital escape games.

How to Play Escape Rooms

Escape rooms are quite easy to play. First of all, players form cooperative teams of between 2 to 20 players, on average. Then, after choosing the teams, the game master delivers a brief narration of the game’s rules and instructions. In cases where there are no live game masters, this narration takes an audio or video format.

Players have to solve puzzles that are usually related to the game’s theme and can only leave the room after completing the task successfully. Once players enter the room, the timer immediately starts counting, and each team must ensure that they solve the puzzles quickly. Often, a solved puzzle means that teams can progress to the next level. In cases where teams get stuck with puzzles, there is often a chance to ask for hints. For example, some escape room facilitators only allow teams a maximum of three hints.

Teams automatically fail the game if they cannot solve all of their puzzles within the stipulated time. Some escape room facilitators group team losses into ‘Good Endings’ and ‘Bad Endings’ for dramatic effect. If players can get out of the room ‘alive’ or are close enough to solve their puzzle before the timer stops, then the scenario is a good ending. On the other hand, the situation is a bad ending if players are not close to solving their puzzles or get ‘killed’ before the end of the game.

If you are playing an escape room for the first time, it is important to note that escape rooms do not necessarily require physical strength. Most escape room games are intellectual-based and focus more on mental strength and problem-solving skills. Once you are smart and have a way of solving problems while working with a team, there is a high chance that you will beat the game.

What is an Escape Room Puzzle?

Puzzles are a huge part of escape room games. While preparing to play an escape room game can be very exciting, it is essential that you know the type of puzzles that you may encounter and how to solve them. Here are the most common types of puzzles you might likely see when playing an escape room game:

1. Written Puzzles

Written puzzles are one of the most common found in escape rooms. You do not necessarily need to be a math wiz or genius to solve these clues. These riddles usually appear in crosswords, math equations, or simple math problems and even finding the missing letters.

2. Physical Puzzles

Another common type of escape room puzzle is the physical puzzle. These challenges are often in the form of moving objects in the room around or even untying knots. For instance, some escape room facilitators may tie the key to unlocking a door in the most complicated knot to make the game more challenging. At this point, you will need to untangle this knot to be able to solve that puzzle piece.

The game may require moving items from one place to another. Moving items can be tricky, and it is vital to pay attention to the rules and instructions of the game at the beginning. Unless the game master says to move items, you may not need to do so as it would only be time-wasting. It is also important to note that you should not force movement or damage the property in the room. You should also not touch any potentially dangerous items in the room, for instance, electrical outlets.

3. Sensory Puzzles

It is easy to overlook sensory puzzles, which is why most escape room players never actually win the game. Sensory puzzles are easy ways to hide clues and favorites among escape room facilitators. Usually, sensory puzzles involve light and sound. If you notice light shining on a particular spot, then this sign might be your cue to check the vicinity for hidden clues. In the same vein, if everywhere in the room is well lit except for just a tiny spot, then pay attention to that area and search for clues.

A record player might be playing songs in the background as the team solves their puzzles. You should pay attention to the lyrics of the song. There is a high possibility that the song may hold the answer to one of your puzzles. Most escape room organizers use this trick frequently since most players will likely not pay attention to the song playing in the background.

4. Visual Puzzles

Since every escape room follows a theme, escape room facilitators may decorate the room in a way that contains clues to solving the puzzles. Therefore, it is advisable to pay attention to the detailing of the room. Most times, facilitators may deliberately hide Morse codes in the guise of decorative patterns.

You should also pay attention to the paintings and artifacts in the room. If you notice any object that seems out of place, analyze it thoroughly to see if it houses any clue to your puzzle. In cases where the game master hands you a blacklight, make sure to use it on every part of the room, including painting surfaces, to ensure that you do not miss any valuable hint.

5. Combination Puzzles

Just like its name, combination puzzles combine a variety of puzzles. Frankly, this type of puzzle is usually more complicated than the others. For example, when checked carefully, a picture may contain secret codes or texts. It takes a level of mental agility and patience to decipher combination puzzles. Combination puzzles generally require players to combine different puzzles into a single piece. For example, a picture with multiple hidden codes or a logic puzzle.

You can learn more about this format by studying DIY escape room puzzles.

What is an Escape Room Party?

An escape room party is a party curated to look like an escape room or a party at an escape room. Escape rooms are a popular venue for birthday parties and office holiday parties. Nowadays, more people, especially corporations, are hosting escape room parties for team-building skills.

A great way to foster bonds among friends or colleagues is organizing escape room parties. Since escape rooms involve teammates working to solve puzzles, these occasions are an excellent way to build cooperation and bonds among players. Even if participants are meeting for the first time, the games allow folks to get acquainted and foster future beneficial relationships.

Since escape room parties are unique and fun, they are a nice way to create happy memories with people you value. It is almost impossible to forget an escape room party, so organizing one allows you to create long-lasting memories.

Tips for Organising the Perfect Escape Room Party

If you are thinking of organizing an escape room party, the following tips will help:

1. Choose the right room

It is imperative to choose the right room when organizing an escape room party. While large rooms are a great choice, ensure that the surfaces are not too hard, especially if the game is for young children or teens. A medium-sized room is often the best option because it helps reduce the time players spend searching the room. Be sure to also consider the difficulty level of the room and the skills of your team.

2. Pick a great theme for your escape room party

When organizing an escape room party, you will want to pick a great theme that will fascinate your invitees and leave them itching to play the game. There are several escape room themes to choose from, and you can always refer to website sources for help in choosing the best. Examples of escape room themes include the classics, comedic rooms, family-friendly, back to the future, and abstract rooms.

3. Craft a compelling story plot

A compelling story plot is a great way to have your invitees interested in playing an escape room game. It is better to fill your story plot with the right amount of suspense and imagery. When there are several scenarios to imagine, players become highly motivated to solve their puzzles and be a part of the story.

4. Create fascinating yet slightly challenging puzzles

The party is more fun when your invitees are interested in solving the puzzles. While the puzzles should be easy to solve, you do not have to make them too easy. Easy puzzles kill the game’s buzz and may not be as exciting as you intended.

5. Make sure your invitees are willing to work together as a team

Even though escape rooms promote teamwork and communication, it is important to read the room. It is advisable to pay attention to your guests and be sure that they would be willing to work together when placed as teammates. If players are not ready and you unknowingly place them in a team, then the result may be chaos and arguments.

6. Spell out the rules of the game clearly

Before starting the game, make sure you spell out the rules and instructions of the game and how to win. Aside from that, be sure that every player understands the rules to avoid arguments at the end.

7. Ensure you have a backup plan in case of emergencies

No matter how careful you are, you cannot be too cautious with escape room parties, especially those held at home. It would help if you had a backup plan in case of accidents. For instance, you should have a complete first-aid kit with antiseptic wipes, bandages, and other medical supplies to take care of a cut or bruise.d\

Here are more escape room tips to learn.

What is an Escape Room Company?

An escape room company is a service that provides locations and escape rooms for players wanting to participate in the game. Escape room businesses are pretty lucrative, and it may seem like a very tempting idea to start one. However, owning and running an escape room business goes beyond providing great locations and fun for game lovers.

To start an escape room business, you should pay attention to certain factors to ensure your business grows into what you planned. Here is a quick guide on getting started on your escape room business.

1. Know the game

To be successful as an escape room entrepreneur, you need to understand the game’s nuances. Although leaving the design to game suppliers can save you time, understanding the game gives you an insight into players’ minds and what they expect. You have to have played the game yourself many times to know what concept will be unique to your brand. Also, learning how to solve escape rooms will help you craft hints for your guests and improve the customer experience.

2. Understand Your Purpose

People start up escape room businesses for different reasons. Before thinking of starting an escape room business, you need to understand the startup’s purpose clearly. You should clarify if you are opening the escape room as a full-time business or as a hobby. Identifying the intention makes it easier to align your plans accordingly.

3. Network With Escape Room Owners And Community Members

To have first-hand knowledge of what it takes to start and run an escape room business, you will need to network with owners who have been operating escape rooms for some time. Quite frankly, aspects tend to appear easy on paper until you have an actual experience. Talking with leading experts in the industry and networking with a community gives you a more accurate source of information on how to handle your business.

4. Carry Out Your Market Research

You should learn more about the intricacies of running an escape room business. Identifying your target audience, location, brand perception, and other necessary factors needed for a successful business venture is advisable. You should also research your competitors, get to know their operations, and identify their unique selling points.

5. Have a Detailed Business Plan

A detailed business plan is one of the key ways to a successful business. Developing a concise business plan makes it easier to spot areas that need more work and elements that are most functional. Your business plan should contain important information regarding the funding, plan execution, team management, and website creation.

Learn more about escape room companies.

What Is An Escape Room in Education?

Escape rooms are not just highly intellectual games played by fun-seekers. Corporate bodies and educational institutions now employ escape rooms as the latest form of learning and interaction. An educational escape room involves making students solve problems or puzzles relating to a particular subject. Many educational professionals have incorporated the problem-solving yet exciting attributes of escape rooms into classrooms to build a sense of cooperation among students, while still carrying out the learning process.

Most times, educational escape rooms do not take place in locked rooms. Instead, these rooms feature students trying to solve puzzles and identify clues that will help them unlock puzzle boxes. Teachers are starting to advocate the inclusion of escape rooms in education. The reason is that educational escape rooms introduce new and exciting ways to engage students in various subjects and help them enjoy the learning process.


This article extensively covered the definitions, general game overview, what it takes to start an escape room business, and educational escape rooms. This information gives you a clear understanding of the game and what to expect when participating in one.

Next, check out these escape game movies, and this list of the best escape room board games.

Frequently Asked Questions: What are escape rooms?

Here are some frequently asked questions on escape rooms.

What is the definition of an escape room?

An escape room is a game that requires a team of players to solve puzzles within a locked room to break out before the limited time, which is usually 60 minutes.

What is the point of escape rooms?

The point of escape rooms is basically for players to successfully discover and solve puzzles before the stipulated time.

What is the purpose of escape rooms?

Escape rooms are excellent for game lovers seeking highly intellectual ways of having fun. Aside from the fun, the purpose of escape rooms is to foster cooperation, communication, and promote team-building skills among players.