Escape Room Clues: It’s An Art

April 1, 2019

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Escape room clues… most of us need them!

People ask about our escape room clues or game master hints all the time. Some are relieved when they hear we offer clues from the outside, as most escape rooms do. Some folks are even more relieved when we tell them there is no limit and no time penalty for clues at ConTRAPtions. Others say ‘we don’t want clues!’ To them, it’s more satisfying the fewer clues they need. A good escape room should always be solvable without external hints, even if most groups do need a few. But since the primary goal is have fun, no one should feel bad for needing a little help from the outside.

External (meaning outside the room) escape room clues come in many forms. Some clues come verbally from the game master to the players. This is usually via an intercom or walkie talkie. Other clues are notes scribbled on pages from a book, clandestinely slipped under the door. Still others come as audio clues, played in the room and voiced by a character from the story line. If you get a little more techy, you’ll see the hints on a monitor in the room somewhere…. or on a Human Machine Interface screen such as those in our very own Plight of the Margo. Here your outside information comes directly from fleet command, and will help you to accomplish your mission in outer space.

Is our victory dependent on clues?

Sometimes people ask us if the game master can make them win or lose based on the clues they give. The answer is, not exactly. A reasonable number of escape room clues will help a group enjoy as much of the room as possible if they get stuck, but won’t necessarily secure them a win.

Gauging the pace and dynamics of a group can be a fun challenge. Game masters must determine whether or not to hold off on a clue if they feel the group is close to solving something. Give a clue too soon and it steals some of the joy of discovery. But if they wait too long to offer a clue, groups can get frustrated and stuck. Some groups don’t mind puzzling for a while over a challenge they really want to crack, while others see it as just another step to the main goal and don’t want to lose momentum.

Picking up on social cues and interpersonal interactions within the group is key in order to properly tailor external clues. This is where the game masters at ConTRAPtions really excel. When it comes to the art of escape room clue-giving, we think they are some of the best GM’s out there, but of course we’re biased:) Book a game with us and come see for yourselves!