A Game Master’s Perspective
One of the most commonly overlooked factors in escape rooms is the role of the Game Master. (The person tasked with watching and facilitating your experience). The Game Master’s role is a subtle one, like a puppeteer conducting a play from the shadows. If a group leaves the building with smiles on their faces, the Game Master has done a successful job. I would like to take this opportunity, to put you in my shoes. I want to show you the thought process behind every decision a Game Master makes. My name is Eli, a Game Master at KeyMasters Escape Rooms in Hamilton, Ontario. And this is my Game Mastering life.
The job begins from the second you open the door and walk into the building. What mood are you in? What sort of humour do you like? The moment I see you, I begin brainstorming how to give you the best experience possible.
One of the first questions I like to ask is, “How many rooms have you done?” Simple, quick, but important! Why? Someone who’s never attempted an escape room is voyaging into uncharted territory, destined to get lost. Someone who’s triumphed through numerous escape rooms knows the land and will have less trouble finding their way. This first question forms the foundation for my work and how I choose to approach each group. Care and clarity are essential in giving instructions to newer groups. Where as, an experienced one might miss out on a minor detail to raise the difficulty just that little bit. Once I feel you are prepared and excited, I send you in. Now, it’s all about the ESCAPE!
Phase two begins once you are in the room. I gauge your progress, teamwork, and communication. Tick tock. What have you seen? What have you pieced together? If your way of thinking aligns with the logic of this puzzle, you should have little problem solving another puzzle of similar logic, but if it doesn’t, there might be another hurdle for you to pass in the future. Tick tock, your group seems to have hit a wall. Studying your group has prepared me for this moment. You get the exact clue you need exactly when you need it. This may be a small nudge if you’re on the right track. Maybe a more direct clue to get your train rolling towards success once again? Each of these decisions is inspired by observations made since the beginning of your experience.
Some people like to avoid clues, like we’re not there (not a great strategy) you only have 60 minutes. Let me help you! There’s nothing worse than watching a group know the answer, but not realize it. This is where I can nudge you back to it. Use me for help, that’s why I’m there.
Whether or not you escape, my goal is to have you walk out of our door with a smile on your face. If you can’t get out, that’s okay. You can be sure you are picking up on things that will help you be successful next time. Each room is a learning experience for both of us, but it doesn’t end there. Did something frustrate you? Was there a bit of tension within your group? Did someone feel left out? My job doesn’t stop at puzzles. Watching the game means I’m also watching for these things.
More often than not, people don’t realize the contributions they made to a game. You probably made several smart observations that someone else pieced together to solve the puzzle. Which may make you feel that person did most of the work. Perhaps you don’t realize that the puzzle wouldn’t have been solved without the observations you made. People often don’t realize how much information they are relaying to others (why do you think psychics know what to say). Your way of breaking down information could be helping someone solve a puzzle. It is like a good teacher explaining a problem to a student that doesn’t quite understand right away.
You must remember, an escape room is almost impossible to solve alone; they’re designed for teams. A team’s success hinges on the strengths of all its members. Part of my job is to point out those strengths if they are ever in doubt. I notice these things and always want you to know just how much you helped your group.
Now that the room is complete successful or not, I walk you to the lobby and offer to take your group photo. Admittedly, my nerves begin to rattle a bit as I hope my amateur photography skills will suffice (no complaints so far, phew). You take your phone back and prepare to leave. I always love to hear you talk about your experience with both your group and me. Seeing you out the door is still part of my job, but it’s the best. We Game Masters develop a sort of bond with our groups. We truly want you to have fun. The feeling we get when we see your group walk out of the building with wide grins, endless chatter, and most importantly, a promise to return, that’s what makes our day! 🙂
If you’d like to meet me and my awesome coworkers, please book KeyMasters Escape Rooms in Hamilton Ontario today! We would love to meet you! 🙂