Escape Room Game Masters Share Their Most Memorable Stories
When you’re working in an escape room, anything can happen! Unlike a typical boring job where you see the same thing from day to day, every single group that comes through your doors is totally unique. Whether a group turns out to be terrified of the room, takes an unusual approach to a clue, or plans a heartwarming surprise in the room, every escape room group is different and memorable. We asked the game masters at PanIQ Room to share the funniest, weirdest, and most memorable stories they have witnessed while working. The stories they shared will make you laugh, shake your head, or even tear up. Read on to find out what really goes on behind the scenes in an escape room.
“We went Insane”
Some groups come into the room with a lot of confidence. However, sometimes they find out that the room is much more challenging than they expected. Take this story, for example:
This group came into the Insane Asylum room with confidence. They even had a chant, saying that they were going to finish the room in only 27 minutes. 45 minutes through the game and they had used three clues. One guy turned to face the wall, totally giving up on escaping. After the game ended, the group came out and you could feel their sense of defeat. I asked them what happened in there and they responded, “We went insane.”
“The Missed High-Five”
“In stressful situations, people really show their true colors. Even though an escape room is only a game, some people take it very seriously, and they can have some really emotional outbursts, like this group:
A group of six friends almost got into a brawl. The group was all friendly enough until one person missed a high five and his hand landed on the other guy’s face. The guy that was slapped threw a fit, cursing and bringing up all kinds of past arguments and dirty secrets. Through it all, the group kept trying to solve the room. In the end, they hugged it out and laughed that he missed the high five.
“The One With The Four Loko”
We’re not sure why, but people seem to think that drinking alcohol will help them get through the puzzles and escape from their room. These customers learned the hard way that drinking isn’t wise in the escape room.
A group of two came in with alcohol and asked me if it was alright to bring it inside the escape room. I told them no, and they left looking disappointed. Five minutes later, they returned with an empty Four Loko and asked me to put it in the trash for them. They got into the room and sat on the bench for the whole game. When the game was over, they were sleeping. I had to wake them up and tell them they were free to go. They stumbled outside, and I never saw them again.
“The Other Room”
Even though the room isn’t real, some people get really spooked in some of the horror-themed rooms. This employee watched as a group went from bold and brazen to absolutely terrified:
Two guys came in around noon and booked the 2:30 Psycho room. They were gone for about two hours and came back wearing sunglasses and bragging about how they were going to solve the room in 35 minutes with no hints. Thinking they must be drunk, I took them to the room. They were watching the camera and seemed like they had been there before. Then, about 25 minutes into the game a scream came from the speakers and they practically gave up on finishing. They literally sat on the couch terrified for the rest of the game. When I came into the room and asked what happened, one of the guys swore someone from another room had been talking to them. I almost fell over laughing and showed them that there was nobody in the other room. When I opened the door to let them out, they ran like someone was chasing them. This is by far the funniest thing that has happened to me since I started working here.
“The Enthusiastic Grandpa”
When you’re in the room, it’s a good idea to assume just about anything you can see might be a clue. This customer, however, took his search for clues a little too far. His group tried to stop him, but he just wouldn’t listen!
We had a family come in with grandkids, parents, and a very enthusiastic grandpa. Grandpa spent at least 30 minutes of the game bent over scratching up a patch of either gum or adhesive on the floor. He was dead set that there was a clue underneath, and it was hilarious watching his family try to steer him away from it. They were unsuccessful, and he had to get the entire thing scraped up. We appreciate his perseverance!
Solving puzzles and finding clues can be a ton of fun, but some customers prefer to make their own fun. One employee observed a group who found a way to have a great time that didn’t really involved playing by the rules.
There was a group of teenage boys celebrating a birthday in the Prison room who spent a hilarious amount of time doing Fortnite dances for the camera instead of playing the game. The GM was impressed with their skills but concerned for the two team members who had to pick up the slack while they messed around.
“The Power Outage”
Sometimes things can go wrong when you’re working at an escape room. This game master has a great story about working around a power outage to help their customers have a fun and exciting game that none of them will ever forget.
We had a power outage, which I didn’t find out about until I arrived at the unit. We rescheduled the later games for the day, but we had groups arriving for the Mob and Infection rooms from out of town, so we decided to take a risk and run their games in the dark. I had to bypass a couple things involving electronics, but it was really fun for the guests. They all got flashlights and played music on their phones. The hardest part was not having cameras. I was running around the unit trying to eavesdrop on their games to figure out where they were at. It all worked out in the end, and everyone had fun!
All kinds of people love playing games in escape rooms, and this group may have had more fun than most. Although they didn’t figure out any of the puzzles, they certainly know how to live it up!
It’s common to get players who have been drinking, especially on weekends. However, one group really sticks out as a hilarious bunch. They were a group of “wine moms” who came in to play Voodoo, but instead of figuring out games they put their energy into doing interpretive dances to the percussive music that plays in the room. They even had a bit of a meditation session. At one point, a team member had rolled herself up in the rug. Too funny!
“The Unexpected Double Date”
Most of the time, people like to solve escape rooms with their friends, coworkers, or family members. In this case, an employee saw people make friends with strangers in orientation and go on to play a fun game together.
Two separate couples had booked rooms at the same time, one in Wild West and one in Zombie Outbreak. When I started doing orientation with them, they realized they wouldn’t be together and asked if they could be in the same room. They ended up doing Wild West together, made it out with four minutes to spare, and had a great time!
Some people don’t require too much to have a great time. This group had a truly unique response to their escape room experience.
A group of men entered the Wild West room, promptly gave up solving puzzles, and started a poker game. I asked them if they wanted any hints, but they told me they were having enough fun!
“For Whom The Bell Tolls”
Some kids are much more easily scared than others. This employee shared about a poor girl who was absolutely terrified the whole time she was in the room.
I had a team of six young girls playing Pyramid Heist. One girl was very scared and repeatedly asked me if the room was scary. I assured her there was nothing in the room that was meant to frighten her. She seemed okay. Then, when the bell sounded to let them know that ten minutes had passed, she broke down crying and sat in the corner for a minute. This happened every time the bell rang. Then, when her team reached the second room, she broke down sobbing and sat on the trunk in the first room, refusing to go into the new room because one of her friends said it was dimly lit. I went in to check on her, and she was fine, just so scared of everything. At the end of the game, I offered a picture in the Tomb and her friends had to convince her to go inside. She was so scared in all the pictures, with a terrified expression on her face. I had to struggle to keep from laughing out loud.
“Whatever It Takes”
Some people are willing to do whatever it takes to win. This employee shared a story about a group who came up with a pretty extreme strategy to win their game.
I was running The Cage, The Cards, and The Cash room with a team of two couples playing. They couldn’t get the lock on the rope box open, even with all the clues I gave them. I almost just gave them the code. Now, one of the girls knew they had to get the keys from outside of the cell, but she needed something to get them with. She tried using her jacket and it was too short. Then, out of nowhere I see all the players started taking off their clothes. I was in shock seeing two women in nothing but bras and two shirtless men in a jail cell. I let them know the code to the box, and they let out a big, “Oh” when they saw the rope. We all had a good laugh when they were finished. They said they would do anything to win.
Employees play a huge part in making the escape room experience special and memorable. One employee shared a story about their coworker who had a special talent for scaring customers. We wish we could have been there to see it!
We have had people get scared inside of the Insane Asylum room many times. I wish we could pull up the video from one employee who loved to scare people in there. He used to stand behind the exit door, jiggling the handle or banging on the door and shouting, “Help me!” The reactions were all different. Some teams wouldn’t react, but others would freeze or scream so loud you could hear it on the street upstairs. I saw one group jump back into a corner and not move for two minutes. It was funny because the people who got the most scared were the ones you’d least expect.
“The Marriage Clue”
Thrilling scares aren’t the only surprises that happen inside the rooms. We see plenty of heartwarming surprises too, like this proposal that didn’t go quite according to plan. Apparently, the bride-to-be didn’t realize the game had ended!
We’ve had a few wedding proposals here. The funniest one I’ve seen was when we had a group of four friends. The guy came in earlier with a note to put in the last box they had to open. It said for her to turn around and he would be on his knee with a ring in his hand. The guy was really nervous, and his friends were really excited. The game started, and we gave a couple of extra hints to get them to finish so she could get the note. Everything went according to plan until she got the note. She turned around and ignored her boyfriend on his knee with a ring and kept searching for a clue behind her. She didn’t realize that the game was over, and the poor guy was just kneeling and waiting. After about a minute she finally got it, but it was so funny to see her get so into the game that she didn’t notice it was a surprise proposal.
“May The Force Be With You”
That’s not the only story about a proposal! Another employee shared their story about a science-fiction themed proposal that took place in their Jailbreak room.
We had a group come in for a Star Wars themed proposal. It was silly but cute. They had a guy dressed up as Chewbacca, and the couple were dressed as characters from the movies. It was a whole night they had planned, and the Jailbreak room was the perfect setting for the scene they wanted to reenact from the movie.
Part of the fun of being a game master is getting to see how people act when they feel like nobody’s watching. This employee loves noticing the funny, sneaky, and strange things people do when they think they’re not being observed.
I have seen people do silly things, like hold a puzzle piece in their hands for a while and not show it to their teammates. Then, we give the clue and they hold it up like they just found it.
“Young at Heart”
You don’t have to be young to have a great time in an escape room. This employee recalls a group of older people who were young enough at heart to have an absolute blast solving puzzles and finding clues.
I had a group of older men and women try our Wild West room. Whenever a group of older people go in, they tend to complain about the lighting or not being able to see the locks. Not this group, however. When their time was done, they asked to do another room, even though they didn’t escape the first one.
“The Good Drunks”
Alcohol can make some people aggressive or nasty, but this employee absolutely loved hosting this group of drinkers. Whatever your level of inebriation, be nice to your game master! You’ll enjoy the game a lot more and so will they.
I was working on a Saturday night when a group of drunk gentlemen came in. They were quite nice and enjoyable to host. It was funny watching them get on each other’s shoulders to try to reach the ceiling tiles. After I told them that they didn’t have to do that, they kept saying sorry for the rest of the game!
“Minions, Cadets, and Lab Rats”
Using your imagination is another surefire way to make the game just that much more fun. One employee recalls a group who stood out because of their dedication to taking on new roles in the game.
A group of young adults around 20 years old came in, and they insisted that we had to use code names on the walkie-talkie. So, for the whole game they called me game master, sergeant, and commander. They wanted me to call them minions, cadets, or lab rats.
“The Sweet Reunion”
Being separated from family can be really tough. This employee helped facilitate a family reunion of sorts at the end of one of their games. Is someone cutting onions in here?
In the Bunker, we had a customer request that we hide a player at the end of the game as a surprise for their son. The customer explained that her husband was returning from the military and her son didn’t know yet. When the group won their game, we had the dad standing right outside the exit door. It was an amazing experience to see their son so ecstatic to see his dad.
“The Creative Solution”
This customer should go down in the escape room hall of fame for his weird solution to the puzzle. What did we tell you about alcohol again?
The Asylum has a door with a window that needs to be unlocked so you can see through it for a code. The window is approximately 6” by 12”, not human sized. We had a very drunk customer attempt to crawl through the window to get into the other room. He brought over a chair to jump through. Immediately, I got on the intercom to stop him. He responded by yelling at me not to give him a clue. I will never know what he was actually thinking.
“A Family Affair”
Proposals aren’t the only sweet surprises hidden inside of escape rooms. This couple used an escape room for a truly unique pregnancy announcement.
Some customers were expecting a baby and they wanted to tell their family by having us hide baby items they had brought throughout the Haunted Hospital room. At the end when they escaped, they had us hold up a sign that said, “Congratulations, you’re going to be grandparents.”
This employee story has quite the romantic ending. Sounds like this customer left the Pirates room with a real treasure of their own.
We had a customer dress up as a pirate and hide in the last treasure room of the Pirates puzzle. His girlfriend and a friend were playing, and when they got to the last room he proposed.
“Lost in Translation”
Language barriers can add an extra level of complexity to solving an escape room. This employee shares how a group of foreign tourists hilariously misinterpreted a clue.
In our Spy room, we have a clue that tells participants to shake their hips to turn off the alarm. We had a group of Chinese tourists who read that clue and instead of shaking their hips, they started doing squats while shouting, “Ha!”
“The Brave Grandma”
Finally, everyone needs a hero from time to time. This employee observed one incredibly cool grandma who protected her grandkids and got a clue in the process. Can we be her grandkids too?
I had a group of young girls arrive with their 73-year-old grandmother. They were scared from the first moment of the game, and I heard them scream and jump a lot. There is a part when they open a door and have to look into a dark place. When the girls opened the padlock and saw the darkness, they ran back to the wall and pushed grandma toward the door. The brave, cool grandma got on her tippy toes and looked into the darkness to reveal the next clue. It was hilarious.