Hello Fellow and Future Escapers,

Today I wanted to share with you a point we often discuss with our corporate team building customers. The topic is how to effectively use of your hint cards during your hour in an escape room and how this is analogous to your work in the real world. My hope is that this blog post and our future ones can help you and your team tackle any challenges you face or provide you with something insightful.

As you may (or may not) know, per our hint system, you can find up to five hint cards hidden inside the room. At any point, your team can return a hint card to your agent and ask for assistance. This allows you to regulate how difficult or easy you want the escape room to be. Since our agent is in the room with you, he/she will be able to give advice best tailored to what your team is struggling with. Since he/she has seen and heard what your team has tried so far, your agent can also physically indicate things that would otherwise be unclear to explain through only audio or text. Note that your agent will never outright give you the solution.

Now onto the main topic: utilizing the hint cards effectively. Whether consciously or unconsciously, most teams generally have an underlying impulse to refrain from using the hint cards. What I see most often is after the 30-minute mark, a team member will shout, “Maybe we should use a hint card?” Nothing will happen, then 10 minutes later, several people shout, “Okay, we should use a hint card now.” At that point, someone returns the first hint card and says, “We need some help.”

The remainder of the game time will be spent handing a hint card over every three to four minutes. Unfortunately, because of the pressure of time, the team ends up spending hint cards as soon as they hit the next puzzle. Had the team used its first hint card earlier, the team could have reached more puzzles sooner and had more time to solve them without using up the rest of the hint cards. More often than not, the team will find they just did not have enough time remaining to complete all of the puzzles in the last 20 minutes even though they had some idea about how to solve them.

When reflecting with our team-building groups, I suggest viewing the hint cards as a parallel to disposable capital allotted to your project from your company or organization. There is a finite limit to what you have to spend, and you will need to justify those purchases.

I’m sure that for your projects, you do not (want to) wait until you're halfway through its life-cycle (the 30-minute mark) to start using your disposable capital to progress on tasks that have been lagging for quite some time. Your company probably would not look highly on that, nor would it be an effective use of your time and money. If you are going to spend your valuable and limited resource, it's important to know when to use them and what you need them for.

Considering what you would normally do in the workplace, you should employ the same strategies when trapped in an escape room (and really any similar challenge).

  1. Use hint cards if your team is taking too long on the puzzles at hand. If your team has exhausted all of their ideas on the puzzles available to your team even though you still have 40 minutes left, it’s better to use the hint card then rather than wait another 10 minutes not progressing on any puzzle.

  2. Appoint someone to be in charge of the hint cards. This person should keep track of when a teammate has spent too long on a puzzle or a puzzle is taking too many people’s time. It’s also good to have someone responsible for holding the hint cards, since they can get misplaced in the shuffle of activities in the escape room.

  3. Before asking for a hint on that puzzle, the entire team should be notified of what has been tried so far. Oftentimes a teammate can bring a new perspective, check the work done so far, or outright have the answer or missing item. This will save you from spending that valuable hint card.

  4. If your team decides against using a hint card then, give your team about 5 more minutes to complete the task before using the hint card.

I hope these few tips can help you out on your next escape room challenge or even your everyday life at work or school. We’d love to discuss these points with you below!

P.S.: For those who are just looking to have fun completing the room, feel free to try our Casual Mode. Essentially, you can ask for hints from your agent as much as you want, and the agent can provide you with additional help if you get stuck. Ask your agent about it during your next mission.

Until your next mission,

Agent Majordomo