CMU School of Drama

Thursday, February 09, 2017

#101Wednesdays - The Great Escape (...Or Not...)

NFPA Xchange: “Escape rooms” seem to be popping up everywhere. For a fee, you’re locked in a room with a group of friends. The goal is to escape from the room by searching for clues and solving a series of intellectual challenges within a given time-frame. Businesses use them as a fun team-building activity. Others go just to test their wits and see if they can solve the challenges before time runs out. It’s a great concept… except for the being locked in a room bit.


Marisa Rinchiuso said...

I thought this was a very interesting point of view. I'm glad someone addressed it though. I had a similar realization back in October when I read an article about the "horror escape rooms" that were popping up all over Los Angeles. I know the idea of an escape is relatively friendly and fun-going. However, I kept thinking about what would happen if someone really used this new fad of escape rooms as a way to truly trap people. One of the horror escape rooms was actually one where they restrain and blindfold you at the beginning. Although that would deter me, many people still went. It brought up the question for me, are people really paying attention to the companies they are going to, or is it the spectacle that draws them in too quickly? In addition, how can the industry keep regulations and safety going at the high-speed pace as the escape rooms are growing?

Sarah Boyle said...

I went to an escape room a year or two ago. There wasn’t a door handle on the inside of the room, but they explained at the start that we weren’t really locked in in the sense that there was a gamemaster. The gamemaster was watching the room on the screen the entire time. There was a button inside the room, so if you needed to get out, you just press to talk and the gamemaster opens the door. Until this article, I hadn’t even considered the potential fire safety risk, or even if the gamemaster just fell asleep or walked away and someone needed to get out before the time ran out and the door opened. No, the experience probably isn’t as cool knowing that you can leave at any time, but it is safer. Besides the fire hazard concern, at least when I went, there were some strangers filling out the group. No problems with them, but with enough of these escape rooms, there have to be cases of being “locked” in a room with someone creepy, so its best that you don’t have to wait until the 45 minutes is up to get out of that situation.

Julian Goldman said...

As far as I’m aware, the vast majority of escape rooms don’t actually lock the players in the room, it is just suspension of disbelief. I’ve thought about escape rooms a lot since I created one a couple months ago. Creating one not only meant going through the process of coming up with a story and puzzles, but I also listened to group after group solve the puzzles and escape the room (or not). It doesn’t surprise me that escape rooms have become popular. What I saw again and again in the groups going through our escape room was the rewarding aha moments when they figured out a puzzle. Solving a problem is very satisfying, and it is rare in real life for us to be presented with a series of problems that have been designed for us to be able to solve them. And, usually when someone faces a series of problems in the real world, there is stress attached to them that doesn’t exist in an escape room. There is a lot that can be done with escape rooms both in terms of storytelling and with creating interesting puzzles and interesting ways the team needs to collaborate to solve them.

Taylor Steck said...

To be honest, I've never even though about the safety of these escape rooms in regards to their ability to actually "escape" theme if there were to be an emergency. However, this may be because I've never been through one of these escape rooms. I realize now that just assuming these companies have the proper safety precautions is definitely not safe, or smart, by any means necessary. I think one of the major issues with this problem is the fact of how new escape rooms really are. The creation of these escape rooms has really only gotten it's widespread popularity sometime within the past few years or so, with more and more popping up here and there. As a form of entertainment, the safety for the audience and staff are crucial to the execution of these rooms. We already know the safety parameters to theaters and the movies because they have a more extensive history, I just hope that it doesn't take a disaster in one of these escape rooms for someone to implement a safety regiment.

Annie Scheuermann said...

I don't think this author did their research very well, I have done a number of escape rooms, as well work on the marketing team for one, and the very first thing that the employees tell you before you go in is how to get out in case of an emergency. I first did the escape room here in Pittsburgh 3 years ago and had a great time, and have done a lot since, which a range of different people. I will say that I have never been brave enough to do the haunted versions, that I could question the safety of. I can understand where fire risk could be an issue, however most of the rooms I have gone to are dressed to be like an actual location (jail cell, bank, ect) so how it that any more risky than the actual place? I am the Marketing director for UnLocked Escape Room in New Jersey and one of my favorite parts of the job is to hear about what different people have tried in the room. Also, we have never had any injuries of customers. Some people do get more adventurous like climbing on top of things and playing with electrical work, but the thing we always tell them, is that it is a designed room, which does not redefine any laws of science, so if you stick a fork into an outlet you will get electrocuted. They are as safe as you make them as a participant.

Chris Calder said...

Over thanksgiving break me and my family decided to try out escape the room as a little bonding experience. Some of my other family members had previously done it so I had some idea of what I was walking into. All in all, it was a pretty good experience that was an entertaining afternoon. It is a little bit pricy considering they are locking you in a room but after you get over that you can have some fun with it. I think they could be a bit more interesting when it come to the story line. The one that I did was called “the office” and it was a pretty much an empty room with a couple of desks and chairs in it. That being my only complaint I would totally recommend this to any group that is bored on a Sunday. You can even turn it into a little composition by racing another group to see who gets out first. Fun fact: the kids destroyed the adults on getting out.

Claire Krueger said...

Safety of the participants is always a priority. My high school used to do a maze in our black box as a fundraiser until a few years ago it was inspected and revealed a ridiculous amount of fire code violations. I’ve heard other students complain about fire codes being enforced and having to change plans and designs because of it. But if the escape rooms can operate around fire code shouldn’t anything be able to. Maybe a more businesslike and formal approach would encourage things like fire safety to be more present in the minds of planners so as to better accommodate for down the line. It goes to show how important taking into account the fire code in the beginning of the endeavor instead of at the end when the fire marshal says no no. This can be applied to almost anything in the sense that planning early is always better than being forced to adapt later.

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Keys weren't labeled, couldn't get in

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