So, You're Bad At Search-And-Find. Now What?
As we’ve pointed out before, our escape room Achilles’ heel is search-and-find. Picture yourself in a real life I Spy book where the only way out is to find and collect all the listed items. Now add the challenge of physical items being in the way. (Flip the rug! Look under that drawer! What do you mean you didn’t remove the lampshade?!)
Team Bluefish’s favorite escape rooms start by the GM telling us, “now look here, this is a game of brain not brawn, so please do tear apart my room.” They say it sarcastically but after you’ve played a room where yes there were clues in the ceiling and yes you did have to literally disassemble the desk piece by piece, I’m not sure why they say it with that tone (you know the tone). It’s actually a very critical piece of information to know before you start the game.
So, you’ve signed up to play a game that starts with the GM saying, “there’s a lot to find in this room so make sure you look everywhere.” You’ve silently berated yourself for not reading the online reviews more carefully. You’ve given yourself a pep talk assuring yourself and your teammates that this time it will be different. This time not seeing the key hidden under the felt mat in the safe will not be your downfall. And you’re ready to begin, especially when you’re equipped with these strategies:
The Double-Take When Mr. Bluefish and I unlock anything, we have a system. Player 1 unlocks and hands Player 2 the item(s) to start deciphering. Player 1 rechecks box to ensure no hiding place was missed. (I’m looking at you tiny briefcase pockets.)
The Stop and Spin Think you’re stuck? Stop and turn taking in the whole room, especially the walls! Didn’t notice that clock up high before? Don’t remember ever seeing that picture frame. The forest is easy to miss through the trees.
The High and Low Divide the room is half horizontally. Player 1 takes waist down, Player 2 takes waist up. Then pickup everything in your jurisdiction. Yes, everything (unless it’s too heavy or nailed down). Hmm I didn’t notice that stapler before. Ahh, there was something under that stupid garbage can. And yep, flip through EVERY book paying special attention to the front and back cover.
The I Just Assumed. We’ve heard a lot of GMs say how well kids do at escape rooms. This is because children don’t have a lot of the preconceived notions us adults do, so they try things that we skip over. This is something our brains do to help us synthesize information quickly. We don’t need to read the entire alphabet poster to know it’s the alphabet. But wait did you notice the letter R is missing? Take nothing for granted. Stop a minute and question EVERYTHING. Especially that pen. Because it’s probably not a pen.
What strategies do you use to show search-and-find who’s boss? Post your tips in the comments (because trust me, we need them).