A Day in the Life of An Escape Room Game Master

2021.05.26.

If you happen to like both puzzles, games, and riddles, and also are a people person who likes to be around all types of people, then being an escape room game master might well be the perfect occupation for you. As the genre of escape room games is still in its relative infancy, you'll be surprised as to how many people have no idea that such a job could even exist. To that degree, it still has an air of mystery about it.

Another way of describing the job would be to say that you enjoy locking people in dark rooms and watching them struggle! Though that might be a bit of a conversation killer! We're guessing that because you're reading this you have already played a number of escape room games and know the importance of the games master, in both running the game and what goes on behind the scenes. In truth, the job is pretty full on, and can be quite stressful and so needs a person who is optimistic in outlook, as well as helpful, but at the same time knows when to not to say something or offer advice. It's a skilled job, relying on both practical aspects as well as some basic behavioural psychology.

The Day Begins

Before we let any players into any rooms, all clues and puzzles, along with keys and locks, need to be checked and double-checked. Objects that are meant to be hidden should be, and all the clues and puzzles must be in their correct positions. The game will come to a grinding halt if something is missing or placed where it doesn't belong.

From the minute the first team of players enter the reception area, it could be said that the game has started. Itís here the game master will introduce himself and it's here that his job begins in earnest. First off, by chatting to the new players, the games master will need to decide exactly what type of players they will be, and exactly what type of level they should be playing at. The games master will also try to find out what level of interaction will be required from the team of players both towards each other and towards himself. Once the introduction are done, maybe over a coffee, then it's time for the game master to go through health and safety procedures, as well as explaining very roughly how the game will proceed.

Setting The Scene

Now the game begins in earnest. The games master will need to tell the story or narrative of the theme of the game at hand. It's important at this point to find the right balance between flipency and being over-serious. The aim of the narrative is to create a situation into which the payers will be dropped.So it needs to be believable in order to create an immersive experience otherwise the players will not feel as though they are really taking part. There will be a short period for questions and then the game will begin.

Let The Games Begin

At the same moment the team of players enters the escape room, so will the games master enter his room, from which he can check on the teams to see their progress and also watch how they go about solving puzzles and riddles. Part of his job is to ensure that all the players are equally involved, as well as ensuring that hints are only given at the right time and with the right level of information. It's absolutely normal that during certain periods of the game the players may become stuck, which leads to frustration, and maybe even stops the team from functioning as one coherent unit. Once again, when this happens it's the game masterís job to step in. You can look upon his job as being like that as an on-call psychologist, who's ready to insert themselves at any given moment when a problem arises.

Problems, Problems, Problems

Even though different teams might be playing the same game, no two teams will ever experience exactly the same problems. That's because many of the problems are actually caused by the individuals not the teams, as each player wishes to stamp their mark on the gameplay. This makes the game masterís job both stimulating and frustrating. It's extremely difficult to be able to understand the wants and needs of each individual that make up the team when each one will have a different motivation. To all intents and purposes, the escape room game is actually more similar to a live-action game which requires the game master to be alert at all times. Believe us, if the unexpected is going to happen it will happen, and the gameís master needs to be quick thinking enough to be able to deal with these surprising situations.

The Debriefing

Once the team has completed the game or the clock has run down, then it's time for the game master to debrief the team. Typically, after a game, the players will have an excess of energy and be buzzing, as they will still have adrenaline pumping through their system. The idea behind the debrief is not to bring the players back down to earth with a bump. Itís for them to recount the puzzles and riddles that they found most interesting or frustrating, and allow the players room to express themselves. This debriefing period is super important as it is the last interaction the players will have with the business. You might well have fantastically themed rooms, a brilliant narrative, and excellent gamesmaster, but everything will go down the toilet if the very last interaction with the business is a let-down. Once the customer has gone, then it's time for the game master to reset all the riddles, puzzles, and clues, and await the next set of customers.
 

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