Real Life Escape Room Experiences: A Game Master’s Insight

Game Master Alex Oakley clues us in on what it takes to create the immersive atmosphere of a real life escape room experience.

Time to Escape’s real life escape rooms fill a very odd niche in the escape room business. We fall somewhere in a venn diagram between Haunted Houses, Roleplaying Games, and Theater. All of our escape rooms deliver the atmosphere and world of a room, be it 1962 Alcatraz, the Valley of the Kings in Egypt in the age of archaeology, or a swingin’ Speakeasy at the height of Prohibition. They transport you to fantastic, famous points in the history of the last century. My role is make that world come to life as you step into Prison Escapes, Transcontinental Adventures, and scenes straight out of Film Noir.

It’s a great moment when people first enter our rooms. They’re immediately blown away by our aesthetics and decorations, even before they’ve put their hands on the first puzzle. As a Game Master, I have so much fun when I slip into the role of an Alcatraz Prison guard, or an ersatz archaeologist, guiding the guests through the puzzles with cryptic clues and hints. Even more so when stepping into the role of James, the Bartender in our speakeasy: Club Lucky. All of these different roles go a long way towards cementing the world our players step into for 60 minutes.

Alex Oakley dressed as the bartender (in room actor) in Al Capone's Speakeasy

Me, looking fly as James at Club Lucky

I personally love our dedication to making our escape rooms as close to real life as we can within the confines of the puzzles.

From exact replicas of the walls of King Tut’s tomb in Egypt in our escape room, to the authentic colors used for the walls in Alcatraz, we aim for authenticity. We avoid putting timers directly into the rooms, preferring to let the time remaining within the escape rooms to be delivered organically.

It is so fun to see people arrive to play Al Capone’s Speakeasy all decked out in 20’s garb. They come complete with flapper dresses, feather boas, and three piece suits. It really makes it that much easier to play the role of James, and fill the room with the true Great Gatsby 1920’s vibe. Of course, I have yet to see folks show up to play Alcatraz in 1960’s prison jumpsuits, or to King Tut in Indiana Jones digs, but only time will tell.

Al Capone's Speakeasy

A few well-dressed cats n’ dolls who found their way to Club Lucky.

I think what excites me the most about working at Time to Escape is the anticipation I get thinking about not what we already do, but what we have got coming.

Who knows what great eras our escape rooms will teleport you to next? The Cold War? The Antebellum period? Renaissance Italy? I have no idea, but you can bet I am 100% ready to step into whatever role I need to create the perfect atmosphere for wherever you have to escape from next!