Most escape rooms do not provide food and alcohol because your time is limited to solve the clues. You’re not even permitted to use your cell phone in the room. The cost of the adventure typically ranges from $18 to $30 per ticket.
Some examples of puzzles found in escape rooms are blacklights used to shine on walls and surfaces to reveal information, “jail cells” for which teammates must figure out the lock combination and, in newer escape rooms, secret passages and trapdoors reveal new clues and mysteries to uncover.
Some offer even more interactive features. Room Escape Adventures, which operates escape rooms across the country, has live actors pretending to be chained up “zombies” trying to attack players as they try to solve the clues.
Many companies — such as FedEx, Frito Lay and 7-Eleven — use the activity for team-building exercises. It also has become a staple of birthday parties, bachelorette parties and fun Saturday nights with friends. The activity involves groups dividing, conquering and communicating through the various areas of the room to solve the clues collectively.
Many escape rooms have their own theme. One escape room in the Washington, D.C., area takes you through a time portal back to the 1980s, VHS player and all.
The sleuth work does not require exceptional detective skills, but it doesn’t hurt to have friends who are great with word puzzles and numbers. Those who are too analytical can be at a disadvantage because of the time constraints.
“Accountants overthink and financial people tend to overthink things,” Traci McJanett-Smith, co-founder of Escape Expert, told CBS News. “It can be a problem because if you’re looking into something too deeply and the answer is right there in front of you; you can miss the clue completely.”
The concept, inspired by a Japanese computer game, has become a popular and relaxing real-life computer game that gives friends and co-workers a chance to bond over puzzle-solving and clue-finding in a race against time. But take note: According to some stats, the success rate of actually escaping is only about 20 percent.