Doing It with Strangers

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There are two questions people ask me and Lamya most when it comes to escape rooms. The first is “are they scary?” People are sometimes confusing escape rooms with a haunted house. Sometimes an escape room can have a really creepy vibe but nothing and no one is going to jump out and grab you or anything like that. A lot of rooms are designed around a murder mystery of some sort but once again they don’t really want you to feel like you’re in danger but the possibility that anything can happen is one that makes escape rooms fun.

The second thing people ask us is how many people are required to go to these escape rooms. They want to know if two people is enough or if you have to go with a big group of four or six or even more. The truth is that most rooms can be attempted with just 2 people. There are some that are designed for more people sometimes because groups may start off separated into two.

Lamya and I really love doing escape rooms and they do cost money and sometimes we can’t always get more than just the two of us together. Unless you want a really good challenge you’re going to ideally want to go with a group of four. It’s a nice number and sometimes there is a lot to get done in an escape room. Two people just isn’t going to cut it. You want to have a few different perspectives on some of the challenges. This may mean doing the escape room with people you don’t know.

We were recently in Calgary and, of course, did a couple escape rooms while we were there (Yay! More reviews!). Both times we had something a little weird happen to us when it came to doing the room with strangers. The first time we arrived about a minute after a group of four. They entered before we did and asked to do the room that we were about to do. The employees told them that there were two other people already attempting the room for the next time slot and then the group said they’d come back later and try it after we were done. No big deal.

The second time we arrived at the escape room place and the employee let the couple that was there waiting know that we were going to do the room with them (we had booked earlier online). We said hello and introduced ourselves and then the guy put on his coat and promptly left the building. A minute later he called his girlfriend on the phone and let her know that he “felt weird” about doing the escape room with other people. He was waiting for her outside in the car. Extremely embarrassed by the situation, the girlfriend apologized to us and left, even though they had already paid. Once again, no big deal for me and Lamya. We like doing the escape rooms as a couple but that was definitely one of the most awkward things that I’ve ever been a part of.

Escape rooms are not like laser tag. You don’t just go into a dark room and do your own thing for 45 minutes and then leave. You have to interact with people the whole time or you are going to have a bad time. You need to work together and help each other. When you’re doing that with people you know you feel like you are already prepared for such an occurrence. Everybody has their own established roles in the group relationship and everyone is more or less used to everyone else’s personality pros and cons. When you do an escape room with people you don’t know, you have to get to know them right away. Unless you are the most outgoing person in the world you will feel awkward really getting into things. If you’re typically a take-charge person you might hold back in telling some guy who’s on a first date to hurry up and get this lock open bro! Once we did an escape room with a middle-aged couple and their adult children. The dad sat down on a stool and tried to open a lock like a safe cracker. He just started to randomly spin the dial around until the safe opened. He didn’t seem to realize that we had to solve riddles and use the clues to get the combination to the lock. I obviously found this pretty frustrating and was thrown off my game for the rest of the night. I didn’t really enjoy the whole experience.

In my opinion I think that there is more opportunity for success if you have at least a group of four. I don’t always want to do an escape room with strangers but I know that sometimes, if your group can gel even in a small way, you will enjoy your experience. I recommend that people give it a shot once or twice. Escape rooms are already a unique thing so why not try to make the experience even more unique. Last summer, Lamya and I did another escape room in Calgary (our addiction was already in full swing!) and we did a room with a group of six women and a baby. Yes, a baby. He was in the BabyBjorn the whole time. The six women all knew each other and had never done an escape room before. We had a full ten minutes of some awkwardness because nobody wanted to act like an alpha but after that we just flew through the room. It was pretty awesome. We escaped with lots of time to spare and the baby barely made a peep. Success with strangers is possible!

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4 thoughts on “Doing It with Strangers

  1. The first time I tried an escape room, I was in Vancouver – my not-home – and I only had one other person to go with. Knowing 4ish was a pretty standard and good number of people to do it with, I totally assumed booking protocol would be to put smaller groups together or add them to larger ones… and was surprised when I was given such an odd look when I suggested this to the host. I understand that some people might feel uncomfortable with interacting with strangers, but the whole point of an escape room is to put you in an unfamiliar situation filled with unknowns. Adding some strangers to the mix doesn’t seem like it should be that foreign an idea. Now, most of the time, I’ve been able to find a sizable group that fills or almost fills up a room, and having strangers added hasn’t really come up, but a lot of the booking systems look like you might be able to add yourself to a partially filled room. Is that something escape rooms in Edmonton are doing – can you book with strangers?

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    1. I believe that you can book with strangers at most places. The booking system will tell you how many spaces are left. I think most people understand that you might end up going with strangers if you’re a small group. I know that SmartyPantz books the entire room for any amount of people. So if 2 people book a room then they just pay for 2 people and nobody else joins up with them. I think from a business perspective you want to always have full rooms but you also want to make sure people are having a good time in the room. So you need to strike that balance.

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  2. I’ve done three rooms with strangers, they were all first-timers. In the first, I had to explain what a Sudoku puzzle was to the dad. The second involved a couple with religious objections to the wife touching other men, which make getting out of handcuffs more complicated. The third was a husband and wife, their college-aged son and his girlfriend. The mother was the only one into it. The other three were lumps who got in the way. I’ll still book rooms with strangers, because we are usually just two people, which limits our options. I would like to try a room with some experienced strangers sometim.

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    1. I ran into a lot of the same issues – it was always just my husband and I with strangers, who would often cancel last minute and we would be stuck in a room by ourselves. You know how I solved it? I joined a meetup group and now I organize events with strangers who are all interested in doing it! I’ve done about ten meetup events now for escape rooms, on top of the rooms I did with friends before that. Highly recommend it. The meetup group I start the events in is called “Edmonton Do Something” if you are interested. Hope that helps! We always have a blast!

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