This summer I interned for Ericsson. Upon arriving at my Ericsson orientation, I learned that every year, Ericsson hosts TechCamp for the employee’s kids aged 11-14 years old, and one of the sessions was an escape room. I immediately joined the escape room team and worked hours with my group to design an Avengers themed room. I knew nothing about the Avengers and our budget was $200. Despite this, we managed to create an amazing escape room that was voted most favorite session by a landslide. It was so popular that we opened several slots for employees and it was fully booked. This entire process was incredibly fun but there were definitely challenges along the way. Here is what I learned:
- Two-roomed escape rooms are difficult to manage. Because there were around 25 children per session, we had to separate them into one giant conference room that was split into two. The biggest challenge was that the two rooms were separated by a sliding wall, so there was no door or easy way to add a lock. Therefore, we had “robots” blocking the entrance to the other side. The kids had to communicate by walkie talkie (which would regularly not work) to get the password for their respective side of the room. This entire process was difficult and made it so that at least 2 people had to be running each room (4 total).
- Group dynamic matters so much. I was so lucky to be in a group with amazing people who all offered different skills. One coded a brilliant website puzzle, one had impressive attention to detail with Avengers interior design, one was great in leading children/employees, and one responsibly took care of all the behind the scenes emailing and setup. As an unassertive person, it’s challenging for me to reject other’s ideas or fight for my own ideas. I am glad that my group was a fair mix of alpha and submissive people.
- Voiceover and music is important. Even though we could not create an intro video in time, we did use a text to speech website to set the scene. On top of that, we had Avengers music playing with a large timer on the TV screen. Having the voiceover and music adds a sense of realism that is vital in every escape room.
- Kids vs Adults. Our group overestimated the intelligence of both the kids and the employees. This is not to imply that they are dumb, but it’s always good to account for the fact that under timed conditions, both kids and adults are so much worse at math.
- Red herrings are meh. I personally hate red herrings and would never put one in an escape room. However, we did have a couple red herrings in the room and I think that with the large size of our participants, and the fact that some rooms had to wait on the other side to get their walkie talkie, it was a necessary distraction.
- $200 budget? Easy. After making Rice’s escape room and this Avengers escape room with a ~$200 budget, I realized that it’s not hard to create a decent escape room on a low budget. Because I am stocked on locks, the main cost-eater is the interior design, which can be made with cheap materials depending on the room theme. Because our rooms were set in an office space, it was easy to borrow laptops from the IT department, lanyards from the front desk, and various office supplies from our own homes or office spaces. There was even an issue with getting all our items from Amazon, so we really only spent about $130. Of course, I would still prefer a nice budget to add more realism.
- Hype it up. One of my teammates taught me that hyping up the situation will make the experience better. When your role is a robot, act the part. When the participants escape, clap and cheer for them.
Overall, the experience was great and it was a refreshing break from my normal work. It also got me thinking about my future, and if escape room creation is the route I want to take after graduating.