This blog is meant for those out there that are on the fence about trying out an escape room for the first time!
There are quite a few questions people have when they find out that I work at an escape room. After I’ve answered the obvious question of “what the heck is an escape room?!”, usually the next concern is “Are escape rooms scary?”
Well, the simple answer is it depends.
Just like movies, escape rooms can encompass many different genres such as fantasy, adventure, action, Sci-fi, and even horror. It’s pretty straightforward to understand just how scary a movie is based on the rating-- because the movie industry has a standardized system. Unfortunately for the escape room industry, there is no standardized measurement to tell how thrilling a room will be. One business’s scariest room could seem like a walk in the park when compared to more extreme escape experiences. Because of this, the best recommendation I can give is to call the business before you book if you are concerned about the horror elements in a mystery room.
For the record, Next-Gen escape has a few “jump scares” but we try to avoid intensely scary experiences so that our rooms are more widely available and can be enjoyed by all (as long as you can handle a startle or two).
There are many elements that affect the “thrill level” of an escape room. What is scary to some is sometimes laughable to others. Here are a few common questions regarding the “scary” part of puzzle rooms.
There are a few movies, appropriately named more or less “Escape Room”, and are all horror movies. Unfortunately this paints Escape Rooms as horror experiences similar to haunted houses, but not all of these puzzle rooms are intended to scare. Even look at Celebrity Escape Room and you can see the crazy potential in non-horror themes!
Is the door locked?
For most escape rooms, the doors will never actually be locked as this is a hazard. Not all escape games work the same way, but there are four ways escape room businesses approach locking doors:
- The goal of the game is not to escape the room, and thus the door does not need to be locked. For instance, we have a room at Next-Gen Escape that involves disarming a bomb. The goal of the room is not to escape a locked door, but instead to disarm the bomb before it blows! You can leave at any time but that does not mean you win the game.
- Some rooms require you to exit from a different door than the one you entered in. This is my favorite type of room to play as it allows you to be immersed without actually being locked in or having to ‘pretend’ that you are locked in the room. An example of this is our room “The King’s Keep”. The story of the game revolves around you in the dungeon, and escaping from the door you entered from will cause you to be ‘caught’ by guards- so you must find another way out.
- In rooms that are locked there is typically an exit button to immediately leave the room. These locations are looking for a more intense game by offering the experience of being locked in with the option to leave at any time. Do note that if you end up having to hit the escape button that your game will most likely end. Only hit it if you need it!
- Some locations do lock the door. While this is not my personal preference, some people really do enjoy the more extreme experience. Locations that lock their doors typically try to give as an authentic experience as possible. Buyer beware!
The best way to check what the location’s policy is is by contacting them directly. Many websites don’t list if their doors are locked or not and a quick phone call or email can ease a lot of tension!
Are escape rooms claustrophobic?
Most Escape Rooms are the size of a normal bedroom or office.
Due to the nature of the business, games can take place in all manner of real-world locations. Office buildings, old retail stores, homes, and even prison cells have been used as games. If you feel comfortable in a normal bedroom then most locations will suit your needs just fine!
On a side note, Escape Room games are kind of like tents: if a tent says it can fit 8 people in it comfortably you can try to fit 8 adults, but you will probably enjoy it more with half the capacity. This isn’t universal but a good rule of thumb!
To further reassure our guests that suffer from claustrophobia, we also allow our games to be played with the door propped open. It isn’t the intended way the game is meant to be played but we strive to accommodate as much as we can. After all, the experience is supposed to be fun!
Is there an escape room that exploits my phobia?
Escape rooms encompass many different themes, so if you have a specific phobia and are concerned that the room you want to play may have elements of that phobia, call the business ahead of time to ensure that the room is safe for you to enjoy. Obviously, if you have a specific fear then you should not play an escape game that has your fear as the theme. For instance, I simply don’t like clowns, so I don’t expect to play any killer clown or circus theme anytime soon!
Are escape rooms dangerous?
Out of all the rooms I have ever played the most dangerous thing about them has been the players themselves. For some reason it seems like guests are more willing to do things they wouldn’t normally do if they are in an escape room. For instance, some people will stand on chairs to look for clues. As we all know, you could fall and hurt yourself. In addition, I have seen quite a few players show up to their session drunk. Unfortunately, this makes the game much harder and increases the chance injury. Save the drinks for after the game celebrations. Our location has been open for about two years and we have never had a player get hurt in one of our rooms.
Here is the best tip I can give: if you die in the game you die in real life.
Are escape rooms safe and appropriate for children?
Again, the answer to this question is it depends. Some rooms have a lot more horror elements than others.You may or may not be okay with your little one seeing some things in horror themed escape rooms. For instance, there are a few games that have excessive gore, which may give some children nightmares depending on their age and if they are allowed to watch horror movies.
There are also some escape games that have inappropriate language. Most escape rooms have an FAQ page where you can find out what age is recommended to play the games. Is the game is “Crisis in Candyland” or another family-friendly game you will be fine!
Overall, should you be afraid to play an escape room?
You should not be afraid to play an escape room, unless you are specifically looking for that kind of experience. If an escape room is trying to terrify you, a quick look at their website and room descriptions will help you find out. If you are trying to convince someone that has never played an escape game to try it out for the first time and they seem really unsure about it, try booking a more lighthearted themed escape game or just send them this guide!
I have played more rooms than I can count and none them have ever been so scary that I couldn’t handle it, or have even come close to that. We have a haunted cabin themed room at Next-Gen Escape that had a 3 year old player, and if he can do it then anyone can! If you are really worried about the horror aspect of escape rooms, I would recommend choosing themes that are more light hearted, like fantasy or action themes.
I absolutely LOVE escape rooms and like to encourage people to try one out! These are the questions and hesitations that I hear constantly from people that don’t know much about the hobby so I hope it answered any questions about how scary escape rooms really are!