Learning from Kids in an Escape Room

2021.01.26.

Even with the relatively recent proliferation of escape room games, it appears that very few go out of their way to cater to kids. To be fair, when you're running a business that has limited space, then it's only natural that you'll set up everything to appeal to the largest market denominator. Which happens to be adults. Here at ExitTheRoom, we do have some games which can be enjoyed by both children and adults. What's interesting to us is to see how children go about problem-solving when compared to adults in the same situation. 

On the whole (and we are generalizing here) we find that adults have a habit of over complicating things. The kids often see the answer well before the parents/adults. That's because the adults are often overthinking the problems, whereas the kids see the simplest solution within seconds. Funnily enough, it's often the case that the puzzle is solved by the youngsters, but the adults present simply poo-poo their ideas, insisting that there's more to it than the eye can see. They then attempt to rationalize their more complicated methods.  

Here are some pointers that we adults might want to take from the kids. they have a clarity of vision unhindered by preexisting ideas and notions. In many cases, it would be better to stand back and let them have a go first. 

Be Open To Strange Ideas

An escape room game is going to be chock full of new ideas and methods for dealing with them. More often than not, situations you would never have come across in the real life. And these will need a new approach, a new way of thinking, for a solution to appear. For an adult, with their entrenched ideas, this can be a hurdle. But for the kids, they are used to silly ideas or ideas that rely on lateral thinking. Their approach is fresh and natural. So if you're sharing an escape room game with kids, please let them have first dibs. By watching their methods, you'll get a head start. it doesn't mean that they'll be correct in finding solutions, but it does mean that they are more likely to provide the type of thinking necessary to move forwards. So, always be open to the kid's ideas.  

Don't Become Fixed On Just One Idea

We see this a lot at ExitTheRoom. Adults become fixated that their method MUST be right. And even though the door still refuses to open, they will persist using the same method over and over. It's as if they have developed a form of tunnel vision. So even when they do try something different, it's not different enough. Kids don't appear to be laboring under such problems. They will try one way, then almost immediately try another, totally different approach. They don't dishearten as quickly as many adults and will keep on persevering until they find the answer.   

Don't Be Afraid To Ask For Help

Maybe it's to do with pride, but many adult players will keep struggling with a single problem, even as the clock has but precious time left. They will refuse to ask for help. It's not as if the game master is going to tell you the answer. His job is to offer hints, small pieces of information that you've overlooked. This is frustrating to watch as it's draining the fun element out of the game. It's just a game, and those who take it too seriously, will not have a good time. If you're stumped with a problem, reach out to the game master. He's really happy to help, as he wants you to complete the game within the allotted time as well. In other words, he's on your side. 

Stop Over-Thinking

A classic example would be providing a bunch of cards each with an individual letter drawn on one side. The adults will immediately start looking for some sort of code to match those letters with, say a series of photos at the other end of the room. Kids will simply lay the letters out and start to spell words. The adults instead of looking for the simple solution as a starting point, jump over all the obvious solutions to concentrate their efforts on something far more complicated. And it's all a waste of time. Kids, on the other hand, are more likely to start at the simple and then work their way up to the complex. Maybe it's because the kids have less "outside" knowledge that they are then unlikely to bring irrelevant material into their thinking.

You're All There To have Fun

Many adults cannot help themselves but be competitive even when playing a game like an Escape room. As we previously mentioned, there's probably an element of pride hidden in there somewhere. we have seen it all. But some adults take it all far too seriously. To the point that they appear to miss all the fun on their way to victory. Some wise dude once said something about the importance of the journey, not the destination. And so it goes with Escape Room games. there are so many puzzles and genuinely interesting aspects to every game that it's almost a waste of time to simply blow through each room without consideration for the enjoyment factor. The joy of discovery. The picking of the brains. What's a real downer is if a team has one of these types, they can ruin the whole purpose of the game in their lust to win. We once heard of a guy who would constantly be booking the same escape room game, but each time with a different girl. He would then race through the (very familiar to him) rooms as a means of showing how clever he was to the new squeeze. Sad! 

So...don't be heavy. Relax, and try and get involved with everyone there. Oh...and let the kids try things first. You might learn something from their unique ways of looking at the world. 
 

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