Strangers Can Be Awesome

As we’re getting the Chicago escape room meetup going, it’s probably a good time to talk about what makes meeting up with new people exciting. I always love getting to play escape rooms with new people, and whether those people are trying their first escape room or thousandth, it’s more likely than not going to be a great experience.

I’ve seen people nervous about joining strangers, and I admit I have a few negative experiences from joining up with random people. Every single one of those negative experiences is linked to one of the below takeaways, so I’m hoping this list helps provide some thoughts on how to make the most of these times.

Leave Your Preconceptions At the Door
Some of my most fun random pairings were with groups you wouldn’t expect. First time players and children always approach escape rooms with a sense of awe, and I’ve been impressed so many times by families and couples with no puzzle experience communicating remarkably well.

Let Everyone Play
Eager players often jump on every lock, clue, or new prop. When playing with strangers, it’s especially important to be considerate about giving everyone a turn to be the first to dig in.

Don’t isolate yourself or stick to your own mini team. When paired with strangers in games where the team gets split up, I even recommend having the groups of strangers mix at this point to get to know each other and make communicating group to group easier. I also recommend complimenting strangers and newcomers when they find something important or solve a puzzle- it’s a great way to help the team feel cohesive!

Even if an escape room novice has some off-the-wall ideas, one of those ideas might be right. And even if they’re not right, talking through the challenge is often the best way to get unstuck.

Don’t Naysay
Someone wants to spend twenty minutes counting the number of tiles in the ceiling? That’s ultimately that person’s prerogative, and at a minimum it’s not keeping you from working on the real puzzles. Explain why you don’t think it’s right but always let them know they’re welcome to pursue their ideas!

Be the “Guide”
If you’ve done a lot of escape rooms and the others haven’t, it’s a great opportunity to be a gracious guide for the group. Let the least experienced players be the ones to be front and center for the coolest reveals. Encourage others to play with the props and keep an eye on if anyone is feeling lost. On the flip side, if you’re new to rooms, don’t be afraid to dive in first, if only for a minute!

In general the principle is to focus first and foremost on having a good time. If you take your time to be a good partner, you might not set the room’s record like you would partnered only with teammates with a clear system, but I promise, it’ll be just as fun, if not more.

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