Escape room

Build Your Own Escape Room at Home

Thanks to the covid-19 situation, many of us have been spending far too much time indoors. With curfews in place in many countries, for many people this year represents the most time spent in our own houses...

Thanks to the covid-19 situation, many of us have been spending far too much time indoors. With curfews in place in many countries, for many people this year represents the most time spent in our own houses. As social animals this is not the healthiest way of living and so it's no surprise that some people will be feeling frustrated and even depressed. After all, there are only so many times you can watch reruns of Friends, or play the same game of Monopoly over and over. So we thought it would be a good idea to see how easy it is to set up our own escape room game to be played at home.

If you've ever played a real escape room game, then you can imagine the amount of time, effort, money, and planning that goes into creating this activity. But for our own escape room game at home we don't plan on spending 6-months to design all the puzzles and clues. As a matter of  fact we're going to try and achieve a perfectly playable and immersive escape room game, all in the space of but single afternoon. To help get started, we've listed some basic ideas that should have your game up and running in no time at all. 

Keep It Simple

It's important that the game is not over-complicated. All it needs to ensure a decent gameplay is a few key components. The first one will be the narrative. This is the story that sets the scene and provides context and depth to the gameplay. It also creates a common goal that the players are working towards during the course of the escape room game. Of course, it wouldn't be an escape room if it didn't have it's puzzles, closed spaces, and objects that need to be found and unlocked. Youíll also need some sort of countdown device, whether clock or a timer, which if audible, will help add even greater suspense. Finally you should add some mysterious music which will help create a more immersive environment. A quick search on YouTube and you'll find plenty of mysterious music to play in the background.

Create A Strong Narrative

If you have played at escape rooms before, then you'll know that the plot tends to follow and embellish a clear theme. Whether it's in a sunken submarine, trying to diffuse anatomic device or trying to escape from a laboratory, as flesh-eating zombies are pounding at the door, most games will have a strong narrative. Interestingly enough, the story's believability is only second to the tail being told itself. Providing the story is told in such a manner as to be fully immersive, then the minor details within the story itself become of little importance. Once you have the bare bones of a strong narrative, then everything else will fall into place.

Create Obstacles

On the one hand, you can go nuts creating as many interesting and difficult obstacles as possible. On the other hand, you should keep in mind that you wish the game to flow smoothly. As you're playing at home you can use many everyday household objects that people wouldn't immediately think could be part of an escape room, by simply labelling them. For example, hiding something within a suitcase with the combination lock needing a clue to be solved to open it. One popular option is to put clues and puzzles on various USB sticks and hide them throughout the house.

Hide Numbers, Letters And Codes Within Riddles

It's very easy to hide numbers and digits within words. For example, replacing the letter ìAî with the number ì4î within a piece of text. Likewise, you could have a riddle ending in the letter ìsî and then in the next sentence start with the word ìevenî, which would then give you the number ìseven.î

Be On Hand To Help Out

In a real escape room scenario the game is being constantly monitored at all times by the game master, who is then able to step in when he sees that the players are stuck over a clue or a puzzle. He's able to give subtle hints to help them find their way forward. Whoever is organising the game at home should also be on hand in case the players need a nudge in the right direction. Also you'll be able to see first-hand which of the puzzles and clues work, and which don't. This will allow you to ensure that the next game has better puzzles and functioning clues.

Don't Overcomplicate Things

A simple Google search will reveal a huge number of puzzles and clues that can be used or adapted for use in an escape room game played at home. There's no need to reinvent the wheel. On the whole, you want puzzles that are relatively simple to solve or can be acquired with a logical mindset. If the puzzles and clues are too difficult, then the players will rapidly lose interest in the game as it will quickly become boring. The gameplay needs to be relatively easy to understand, so that it runs along smoothly and without any hiccups. 

Don't Make The Game Too Long Or Too Difficult

It's true that some players like puzzles and would be happiest if the game was to continue for much longer than the normally allotted single hour. But we would suggest that no game should last longer than this, as there is always the risk that some players will become both impatient and frustrated. To that end, it's important that you make up a certain number of clues depending on the number of players, i.e. a comfortable clue to player ratio. Also you want to ensure that players don't have too much time or they will fall into endless discussions about the clues and the puzzles. You can utilise the pressure of time to increase the game's excitement and to ensure that the puzzles and clues are found and solved quickly and without too much discussion. It's a fine balance, as a short game will not give the players enough time to solve all the puzzles, whilst a long game will become increasingly boring and tiresome.

Remember To Have Fun

You might be surprised as to how many people start to take these games super seriously once they begin, and forget that the main reason for playing is to enjoy themselves. Don't be one of those bores, whereby the only important aspect of the gameplay is to win, and to win at all cost. With the Covid lockdown, on the whole, this game is going to be played by families in their own homes. So let's try to relax and have a great time. 

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