Coolest Prize Ever

I wont bury the lede on this one- I went to Sixty to Escape Milwaukee this weekend, played three games, and snagged the coolest escape room prize currently in my possession: an oversized gold pirate coin, prop quality, with the business and room name etched in code around the side.

Or did I bury the lede after all? The three games we played back to back to back (Pirate’s Curse, Invasion, Merlin’s Legacy) were all extremely impressive, all standouts within my near-500 pool of rooms completed. That alone is worth extended coverage, but for today, I’m focusing on that coin.

Hand crafted by the escape room’s owner, the coin cannot be purchased. The only way to get it is to play the Pirate’s Curse room, and before finishing the room, to solve a series of five challenging bonus puzzles that do not allow for hints. Apparently we’re only the eighth team to accomplish this feat since the room opened in early 2020, and we couldn’t be happier. The coin is now prominently displayed in our living room.

It wasn’t easy- teams definitely have to work to get the coin. We had a great run and solved the main track of the room with about twenty-five minutes to go, and we solved the last bonus puzzle with just over three minutes left. It definitely takes a good run, plus smart use of time and hints to ensure there’s enough time left to focus on the bonus. It also might not hurt to bring along a bonus friend to help with the bonus puzzles, since all can be solved at the same time!

Enough gushing about the coin itself, though. There’s a bigger point here, albeit a little more academic. This coin is a unique application of how the peak-end theory can be used to predict how customers remember the experience.

The short version of the theory is that memory of an experience is most heavily formed based on two factors- the most intense moment of the experience and the end of the experience. There are all sorts of studies about this, many involving sticking hands into buckets of ice water, and the studies reveal some counterintuitive outcomes that are only explained by an emphasis on intense moments and endings for how we remember experiences.

The coin is a great example of an ending element that blew me away. Pirate’s Curse had a few standout moments within, but my favorite is a unique set piece about halfway through the game that I had to stare at for about thirty seconds to confirm my eyes were deceiving me.

Anyhow, my lede was the coin, so I’ll circle back around to that. Super cool, super unique, super memorable. Sixty to Escape has four experiences that not only retain high quality throughout but also have incredibly memorable moments contained within (I still think the best “wow” moment belongs to Casino – arguably the single best “wow” moment of any room I’ve ever done – but the others are all impressive as well), and I’m thrilled to have a cool memento of the experience on my shelf.

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