If you want to sharpen your ability to work well in a team, escape rooms are the perfect activity for you with Melbourne hosting a wide variety of these unusual venues.
What is an escape room you may ask? An escape room is typically an enclosed space with a theme to set the scene. It might be escaping a serial killer or avoiding death row – it’s not as scary as it sounds. The goal is to solve the mystery and escape your fate in the fastest time possible. Each team must crack a series of codes and solve the puzzles hidden in the room within a time limit to escape and avoid the risk of failing the challenge. The phenomenon kicked off in 2013 according to review website Escape Room Hunters statistics.
Melbourne has 16 venues offering the escape room experience for groups of friends, family, or even a date with your partner. Age restrictions vary among venues, however generally it is appropriate for those aged 16 and above. Individual themed rooms allow you to be a journalist, an investigator, a cellmate or many other roles which place you in the scene of the crime. With a timer set to 50-60 minutes, the challenge helps groups improve their ability to work under pressure or within a selected time frame.
The escape room experience is great for improving not only teamwork, but communication and trust skills within a group. Some clues are where you would least suspect them, so the group has to think outside of the box, searching high and low for hidden objects. With a clock ticking – and a supposed killer out to get you – everyone has to work together to try to solve the plot.
Alan Gill from the review group Escape Room Hunters said, “There’s nothing like a high-tension situation to figure out how teams perform under pressure and escape rooms deliver this in spades. Escape games have become popular for corporate team-building days because it takes groups out of their normal working environment and challenges them to work together in a different setting.
“While a lot of focus is on teamwork skills, success ultimately relies on clear and concise communication from all members of the team – there’s nothing worse than a clue being found but not shared! Team-building days can also help reveal underlying group dynamics and allow natural leaders to emerge.”
The Mystery Rooms is a Melbourne escape room venue rated 5-star for its innovation by The Age and Time Out Melbourne.
Corporate Events Manager, Josh Hunt says it’s the city’s largest escape room.
“We are the only venue in Melbourne with a linking narrative between our four games and the only site with an exclusive game for players who complete our first 3 challenges.
“The first three games do not need to be played in sequence but they set up the overall narrative arc. In each of the first 3 games the player is trying to obtain an object that they will utilise again in the 4thgame. When they enter The Grimm Finale they are reissued the items they have discovered across the preceding first three games.
“The reason for this is multi-faceted: it allows us to tell a larger story than usual escape rooms allow; it means we can theme our whole venue; it increases our retention with players returning for the other games; and finally it means we can make the last room more complex as we know it will never be played by beginners.”
In such a dynamic and sometimes confusing environment, Hunt says visitors playing the game should not to be afraid of asking for help.
“Sometimes a team will not have a person in the group that is thinking in the right way. We see this most with teams of engineers who all approach the problem from one direction. If you get stuck, get a clue and don’t be proud about it as the overall experience will be better for the group.
“My other top tip is to look up, people never seem to notice things if they are above head height.”
“Good escape rooms require different types of skills and intelligence. The typical 60-minute limit to finish a room forces teams to consider time as a resource and divide their efforts efficiently. Skills include clear and concise communication; time management; inductive and deductive logical thinking; lateral thinking and creativity; spatial awareness; and hand-eye coordination. In one occasion, we even came across a room which encouraged empathy to others as a skill.
“Essentially, escape rooms require teams to play to the strengths of their members. Teams that play together often usually become quicker and quicker, as they develop their own dynamic.”
Starting to think about who you want to join your team? Ana suggests looking for people with different skill sets.
“Forming a diverse team also helps a lot – people with different professions, age, backgrounds, physical attributes and knowledge. For example, I have communication training and do very well with word puzzles, but my parents (both engineers) are much quicker with logical puzzles and analogue technology, while my husband nails hi-tech and spatial puzzles. He is, however, completely tone-deaf and leaves all musical puzzles to me!
“Groups are often surprised at learning that they are much more intelligent than they give themselves credit for,” Ana said.
Source: The Mystery Rooms Melbourne – Escape Rooms