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Cutting out an escape room puzzle

How to Create an Escape Room, For People Who Don’t Like Games!

Got a puzzle-shy friend who's not sure about this whole 'escape room thing'? Don't worry, I'll show you how to create a newbie-friendly escape room game they'll actually enjoy.
Show me the guide
Shirley watson puzzle master
Chin-up. By following these easy tips, your friends will feel engaged, and empowered, and have a great time playing your escape room games.

The First Step - Make It For Them!

So, you want to design a great escape room for your friends but hate the excessive whining? 

"It’s too scary! I won’t be good at this! I hate puzzles and games! There’s no prize money!"

Before you give up, let me show you how to create an escape room that even your pickiest friend (yes, that one) will love. Or at least enjoy. Or at least not complain too much about it!

The first rule - know thy friends. Understand what makes them tick. Do they like to read? Do they cut math classes in high school? Do they consider a full, rich day one spent watching cat videos and eating bonbons (who are we to judge, we could watch cat videos all day!)? Knowing your friends will help you understand how to create the perfect inclusive escape room. Just remember, you're making this for them. So instead of focusing on fun, 'evil' puzzle ideas, focus on what they would want to see in an escape room game.

Then, once you've got them hooked, follow this escape room game design guide to make something a little more intense!
Epic game night with a printable escape room game

Don’t Try To Intimidate Them

Laughing while playing Lost Mummy
Seriously. We know, being evil is sooooooo much fun. Watching someone open a jar with a spring snake splits your gut every time! You were the master of moving someone’s chair from under them at the last second in high school. However, all good things must end, or, at the very least, take a short holiday.

You need to simplify some elements to put reluctant players and newbies at ease. Don’t construct a game in a small place if you think claustrophobia may be an issue. Your friends will have no chance to solve a puzzle if the size of the room terrifies them. Put it in a more open space, like a living room or backyard patio.

Don’t restrain or incarcerate your friends. One of the best escape games I have played involved being locked in a cell to start the game. All eight of us were locked in different cells. Our first challenge of the game was reaching the keys to get free. It took a few minutes, but we got free and ultimately made a successful escape.

By then, we had played close to 20 escape games in several different cities, including some designed with movie-level special effects. You wouldn’t subject a second grader to a calculus lesson. Take it easy on your friends and keep the game beginner level. Don’t restrain them.

Don’t use actors. As much fun as it may be to see the look on their faces as the mummy on a chain rounds the corner, coming ever closer as the clock ticks down, you will put them off of escape games for life. And possibly lose a friend.

We have one friend who enjoys escape games immensely. She has played several. We still can’t get her into a game with an actor, even when she knows it is an actor. Save that element for another time, when you are with a more daring set of friends.

How To Create An Awesome Escape Room Using Obvious Goals

This isn’t the Escape Game Olympics. You don’t need category 5 rapids and a Mount Everest climbing competition. There’s no need to keep the players guessing at the eventual solution. When creating the escape room, make it obvious!

We don’t mean that you should make it super easy. That’s no fun. Make sure that the puzzles lead into each other. Follow this plan, and make sure that they logically connect with the story. As the players solve the connecting puzzles, the excitement level builds. The adrenaline rush leads to a successful game, whether or not they escape.

After they have a few games under their belt, you can create an escape game that requires a little more thought to connect the puzzles. When dealing with whiners and newbies, especially whiny newbies, make sure the connection is crystal clear!
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Don’t Make Them Beg For Clues!

Kids solving Lost Mummy puzzles
You’re the gamemaster. It’s a little like being Zeus. Unless the supplicants offer the right sacrifice, a bolt of lightning comes down from Olympus to deny their request! A-ha-ha-ha! Except, that’s not quite the plan for this game.

Clues are a standard part of any escape game. Some escape rooms allow three free clues before adding time to a team’s score (never, ever deduct the time they have to get through the room). Others allow an instant time penalty for each hint, although usually a smaller penalty.

The best gamemasters are the ones that offer clues before they are asked. Some have told us to reread a puzzle because they heard us skim over the correct answer. Some told us to double-check a combination because they knew the lock was a little too sensitive.

Gamemasters have walked into the game several times to help us with a puzzle. Twice it was because the puzzle was not set correctly. Other times they simply wanted to help us get unstuck, and no other intervention would help.

Tell the players the rules before the game. Let them know if they get free hints or if asking for clues comes with a penalty. After that, be proactive and give them hints when needed to move the game forward. You’ll help them enjoy the game more and might (might!) come out the other side with a reputation as a nice gamemaster and good friend!

Set Your Friends Up For Success

You know your friends. Dick has not read a book since high school. Jane outsources the balancing of her checkbook. Sid the Sloth plods through every problem as if it had a minimum time for completion.

Tailor the puzzles to their strengths. My wife reads 70 books a year (seriously, even now, I hear an audiobook playing). In determining how to create an escape room for her, I would definitely include some type of audible word puzzle. It would put her at ease and give her the best chance for success.

According to the VARK theory of learning, there are different types of learners, Visual, Auditory, Reading, and Kinesthetic. Try to determine what type of learners your players are, then design your escape room with them in mind.

You don’t have to try to find common ground. If you have people with different learning styles, design puzzles for each one’s strengths. This will allow each team member a moment in the sun and have all of them glowing after they escape, knowing that they all contributed to the team’s success!
Totally winning Rebel Revolt

Don’t Kill Them With The Plot

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When deciding how to create your escape room, don’t overcomplicate the plot. Your newbies will be worried enough about what types of puzzles they have to solve. If they have to digest a complicated plot, they may fall apart before reaching the first puzzle.

Some escape rooms hire actors to communicate the plot. They make cringy videos even a Tik Tok influencer wouldn’t post. The plot contains more twists than this week’s Netflix special. The players enter the game overloaded with information and lacking clear direction. While this may rev the engines of an experienced player, it is likely to turn a newbie off.

Keep the plot simple. Follow this plan to make an easy, relatable storyline. The players are stuck in the mummy’s tomb and need to escape. They need to get out of town before the zombie apocalypse. They need to finish your yard work before dinner gets cold (good luck with this last one. If it works, let me know). They’ll be more engaged and have a great time.

Adjust The Clock

One of the first considerations when considering how to create an escape game is time. One hour is pretty standard for escape games. However, no law forces you to make the game an hour long. Feel free to reduce the game time to 30 or 45 minutes to make their first game a touch easier.

If they love the game, they’ll want to play another. You can make the next an hour long and a little more difficult now that they know what to expect.
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Emphasize That They Are Part Of A Team

Playing Escape Room Z at home
Carefully explain that this is not a competition. There are no prizes for solving the most puzzles. In fact, success solving puzzles will more likely occur if all team members collaborate on puzzles. Nobody wins escape games by themselves.

An escape game is just a fun way to pass an hour with friends. If they escape, great. If not, also great. Everyone will have a good laugh talking about it after either way.

Design An Awesome Afterparty

When considering how to create an escape room, think about designing the entire party, not just the game. After the game, you can have drinks and food, and everyone can relive the experience, which may be the best part of any escape room.

You could even incorporate the escape room into one large, themed party using these tips.

We recommend that you play the escape game as soon as all players arrive. This allows less time for the new players to get nervous and more time for reliving the game after. Not only will this keep people’s minds at ease, but it will also increase the chances that they want to play another escape room.
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Stack The Team

Playing Lost Mummy escape room game at home
If you are designing an escape room for newbies, put some experienced players on the team. It may relax the newbies to have a guide. They’ll feel less lost in the experience.

We don’t recommend that you have only one newbie on the team. They will feel like a hog at a barbeque cook-off. They will probably allow the more experienced players to dominate the game. They will stay right where they were at 8th-grade dances --- on the wall.

Having more inexperienced players will allow them to bond with a team member over the lack of a shared experience. They can try to solve problems themselves and will have more fun during the afterparty retelling their stories.

Begin Creating Your Next Escape Game

If you followed our advice on how to create an escape room, we know that your friends had a great time. If not, get new friends and try again. 

While you may have to water down the escape room for the newcomers, you can unleash the full measure of your evil powers on the next escape room game. Have fun!
Kids having a blast playing Lost Mummy

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Kids escape room box
KIDS BOX $49
4x Escape Room Kits for
Lost Mummy
Rebel Revolt
Escape Quest
Frost
Bonus: Treasure Map Pack
Show Me

$49

The big escape room box
BIG BOX $49
4x Escape Room Kits
Envy
Escape Room Z
Lost Mummy
Rebel Revolt
Bonus: Skulls Card Game
Show Me

$49

VIP escape kits tmb
VIP BOX $99
All our escape kits (7x)
Envy, Lost Mummy,
Escape Room Z, Rebel Revolt, Escape Quest, Frost & Wasteland
VIP early access to games
5x kids edu-venture games
Halloween, Thanksgiving, & Christmas packs
Bonus: Treasure Map pack
Bonus: Skulls Card Game
Lifetime FREE copies of all future games. Boom!
Show Me

$99

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