Live Escape Games: On Expedition

Here I am. A man, his crew, his sword, a map… and totally lost. Somewhere in the south-american jungle, far away from any civilization. I hear wild animals screaming, every rustle in the woods is making me nervous and my stomach aches for hunger. Why should a man want to do this?
Gold. Much gold. The myth-enshrouded treasure of sun god Hitchako should be to our feet. But here is just a giant tree.
“See this!”, yells one of my fellows. It stirs up my blood. I run around. Could it be? Is this the path to wealth?
Below a big root is a little entry. We worm into the little hole and end up in a cave. I light the torch and one of my companions cheers. There is a golden door. Did we really make it? Is this the legendary treasure of Hitchako? Driven by the greed I make big steps towards the golden door. I push a button and the whole surrounding rumbles. After five seconds, that feel like an eternity it stops and I have to cough from the whirled up dust.

The entry hole is now filled with stones, it is pitch black. I light the torch again and I hear a jarring scream. Next to Anna lies a skeleton.
Is this really the place where it all has to end? In a cave somewhere in the jungle? I should have listened to my mother. Get this job as a civil servant, find a beautiful wife, get a little house in the suburbs and eat Miss Adams cheesecake. Miss Adams cheesecake… I would kill for that cake!
“Here is a hint!” – And suddenly I am far away from Miss Adams cheesecake and the heart of the discoverer beats again. Let´s do this!

There is no escape from escape games
What sounds like the script for the next Indiana Jones (well, maybe without Miss Adams cheesecake) is not just a fictional story that is as far away as the south american jungles. To be more precise, stories like this are only a few minutes away. It is called Live Escape Games and in Germany you have more than 400 rooms with stories in 91 cities.

A surprising fact if you keep in mind that the first Live Escape Rooms started 2007 in Japan, inspired by computer games, where you have to solve quests to “escape the room”. Designers took the concept wider. While in some rooms you have to find an exit, you have in other rooms to dismantle a bomb in an hour.

So what is the fascination of Live Escape Games really about? Is it our drive to solve riddles in a context of a (fictional) higher mean? Or is it just another possibility to do a “Team Building”-Event because the third time in a row playing Lasertag sucks.

The Temple

Our Experience
We went on our own expedition to bring light into the darkness. Literally. For the first room “Temple” we were equipped with mine lights. Prior we got a little introduction with our “Match Master” Nils in Frankfurt at Escape-Events (escape-events.de). No, this is not related to Tinder. The Match Master gives you a frame of what you will expect in the room. You have one hour to find the golden statue, we shouldn´t climb on stuff and finally the most important thing is to work together. No place for little dictators.

The rules are simple, let´s get it started! As mentioned we are having mine lights, a sword and a map. We enter the room, leaving Frankfurt and arriving in the jungle. The scene is set. While in museums you have “Do not touch”-signs everywhere, it is here the other way around. Touch everything!
Every object can be a help on your way to wealth and glory.

After collecting a lot of objects we are kind of stuck in this room. We hear a sound and an advice appears on a screen: “Take a closer look on the tree”. Similar to the German discounter LIDL you have in every room a camera where the Match Master can watch the game. This is a big help and necessary because sometimes you focus too much on an object or there are difficulties with the technique, for instance you have to push buttons harder. This advice are also a big success factor of Live Escape Rooms in my experience because they are creating a state of flow. Often riddles can be annoying if you can´t find a solution. On the other side it should not be too easy. Through the advice which were really good timed you have the perfect relationship from challenge to skills, which is in psychology described as flow, a state of happiness, where time seems to rush.

As a result we are taking the advice. After a few minutes we find a way to pass this room and end in a big room with a skeleton, a giant door, paintings on the wall, a shrine and a lot of riddles. Here begins the true journey. And we understand why our Match Master emphasized the importance of teamwork. Some quest can only be fulfilled if you work together. Even mechanical.

As smart students we don´t end like the skeleton and finally open the treasure where we can find the golden statue. Well, it would look good in my living room but the cameras are scaring me. As a result I don´t get the golden statue but we can also play the second room “Bio Hazard”, where you have to create an antidote to secure the whole humanity. This room was more technical and you had to use roboter-arms or a microscope. In 50 minutes we mixed the antidote, which is responsible for that you can still read that Blogpost instead of living in an contaminated environment. (If you want to donate for our rescue of the world please mail the admin)

Sorted by size… Dennis had to ruin it. Room “Bio Hazard”. Tim is still guarding the golden statue.

Preparation for Assessment Centers? Escape Games!
Who thinks, Live Exit Games are only fun, is on the wrong path. After the games we could get a little more background and even look at the building of a new room, which is called “Atlantis”. Atlantis told us much more than the story of a city floated by water, we got insights in the business strategy of exit games. Atlantis is bigger and more complex than the other rooms. Poseidon is sculpted into the wall, which shows the passion of the designers. You need arguments to distinguish from competitors. Atlantis has also a stage involved. One reason for the stage is that Atlantis should also work as a creative room for workshops and other company events. Businesses will become one big customer group for the escape rooms and companies start to move the assessment center to Escape Rooms. There they can see team work and how fast one group finds the solution. For example, you have three rooms of “Bio Hazard” at Escape Events in Frankfurt which offers the possibility to compete three groups at the same time. Need preparation for the assessment center? Check out Escape Games.

We left Escape Events in Frankfurt with a smile even we couldn´t play the third room “The Bomb”. We have to come back. Time is ticking.

New challenges are waiting.

References:
https://www.escape-game.org/presse/

http://www.rundschau-online.de/magazin/test-in-koeln-was-hat-es-mit-dem-hype-um–live-escape-games–auf-sich–23007694

https://daringtolivefully.com/how-to-enter-the-flow-state

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