Trapped in a Room: A Gaming Experience

Saw-1-Gordon-Movies-GuideThis past Friday, I was locked in a strange room with 3 friends and 4 strangers. Our cell phones were taken from us–we had no contact with the outside world. A camera monitored our efforts to escape.

No, it wasn’t a sex thing, a psychology experiment, or Saw VI. This was a game called Trapped: A St. Louis Room Escape.

The company behind this experience, has created 3 different Trapped games at this point. Each one lasts only a few days (the current one continues through August 31 in one-hour increments). A friend of mine tried the second one and really enjoyed it, so he put together a group of 8 people to try again.

I can’t spoil anything about what’s in the room itself, but I can describe the contest: You show up at a special location, you give up your cell phones, and then you really are locked in a room. To “win” the game, you have to complete a series of puzzles to unlock a key, and you use that key to get out of the room.

We were warned before we entered the room that there would be no instructions inside the room. You have to figure out what each of the puzzles are and how they interrelate to one another.

Another way of saying this is: It’s really, really hard. So hard, in fact, that the creators watch you on camera for the entire hour and slip clues under the door. This is their way of avoiding a Lord of the Flies type situation inside the room.

It was a fascinating experience. Even with 8 people, we didn’t come close to solving the puzzle, but we still had fun.

I’ve become more interested in these types of game experiences ever since I listened to a podcast with Quinns from Shut Up & Sit Down about a dinner he attended where you basically play the prisoner’s dilemma with the person sitting across from you. If you “win” the dilemma, you move to a better seat to your left, and the “loser” moves to a worse seat to their right. The quality of food at one end of the table is drastically better than at the other end. I’d love to try that sometime.

Have you ever tried a game experience like this? Would you mind being trapped in a room for an hour? I’m not offering–I’m just curious.