Recently, I had the opportunity to participate in an Escape Room experience and walked away with a new-found respect for this current craze. For the uninitiated, Escape Rooms are real life, interactive game rooms in which participants are locked inside together. Using their creative and critical thinking skills, the group collaborates to find clues, solve puzzles, and escape before time runs out – usually 60 minutes.
There were three couples which included our organizers, who were the only ones with prior experience (although not this one). Of course, they chose the most difficult theme – a Murder Mystery. Our site game coordinator ushered us into the room, gave simple instructions, and locked the door behind us. We were ready to show off our smarts.
Teamwork, Teamwork, Teamwork
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The room was a replica of a detective’s office including a desk, coat rack, fake fireplace, bookshelf and books, and a brief case. We located a keypad, which we correctly assumed was integral to our escape.
Twenty minutes later after thoroughly scouring drawers, clothing, office furnishings, multiple books, and the fireplace, we were nowhere – and panicking. Someone yelled out orders, others followed leads, and others scratched their heads grasping for any thread of a clue. The room was getting smaller and warmer, but our team’s collective brainpower was on full blast.
We were allowed three clues and each clue meant a loss of five minutes apiece. At this point, we didn’t care. Our pride was at stake! We waved at the video monitor, received a clue, and minutes later, deciphered a lock, which unveiled a key. We used the key and found our next clue.
More Clues. Then a Click.
It led us to a piece of furniture with a lock. We entered a code, pulled the lock apart and a small chess piece fell out. What. Is. That? Fifteen minutes before our time limit we asked for our final clue. We located the object, inserted the numbers we discovered onto the keypad–and heard a click.
Yippee! We were free!
From Ecstasy to Agony and Back
Well, not quite. We broke out of the detective’s office but weren’t free. We groaned in disbelief. Red flag! Not fair! When our hour was up we were ready to physically escape from the room, and mentally dive into an adult beverage.
We were shown where the clues were and what we missed – some in plain sight. We were told that only 12% of people who participate in the Murder Mystery room solve it and that – get this – only 25% of participants made it as far as we did. That was good enough for us. With puffed-up chests we exited the room, took a photo for posterity, and headed to dinner.
A Game That Imitates Life and Work
It may sound clichéd, but games like the Escape Room are great metaphors for life and work. When we are charged with a project from a client – whether it be a new website, digital marketing campaign, social media campaign or email campaign – MIC team members rally together to discuss the challenge, and each starts to do his/her part to contribute to the solution. It’s teamwork and teambuilding in its most literal sense and, in most cases, results in terrific work and happy clients. That’s what it’s all about, isn’t it?
Oh, and wouldn’t it be grand if each of us, when faced with a highly stressful situation, were allowed three clues to help get us out of it? In life, as in the game, there’s nothing wrong with asking for a little help.
As a company, MIC owners strive to make employees part of decisions, whenever feasible. From beginning-of-the-year planning day to happy hours, milestone celebrations, lunch gatherings, social media events, agency successes, and yes, even in tragedies, the company culture is one of fun, teamwork, and support for one another.
So, even though my group didn’t finish our great escape, the experience reminded us that for that one hour, we came together as a team and connected over a common goal.
Not to get all Kumbaya on you but imagine if we all thought this way, bigger picture. There’s no escaping the possibilities.