Escape rooms have been growing in popularity for the past couple of years as a fun and interactive way to connect with friends, families, coworkers and more.
Fargo currently has three different escape room businesses, two of which are downtown. The first one to open downtown was Puzzled Escape Rooms in 2016, which is currently located in the Black Building on Broadway.
Co-owner Steven Cameron described escape rooms as puzzle rooms or mystery rooms where you and your family or friends or coworkers get together and search for clues, solve puzzles and figure out the mystery of the room in 60 minutes or less.
How Puzzled Escape Rooms Got Started
Steven and his wife Kay, who are both co-owners, have a deep love of games and puzzles. Their house was built by the most active bootlegger in Moorhead who was known for having liquor stashed in different areas throughout the house. Even though their house has since been remodeled, the idea of hiding and mysteries appealed to them.
They designed some puzzle rooms to be used in their home for friends and family, and then they decided to expand. After seeing space advertised in the Black Building online, the Camerons decided to look at it.
They had just over four weeks from when they first made an appointment to look at the space to when they decided to open to design and build a game, Madam Zella’s Psychic Parlor. They tested it with their daughters and their friends, and now that escape room plays exactly the same, except for one small design modification, two years later.
“It was kind of a crazy, risky thing to just say, ‘okay, we’re going to do this,’” Kay said. “I mean, people work on their game design for six months before they start building. We sat down, designed it, and we didn’t use any of the game puzzles for the ones for our house, so we just threw it together and built it.”
The second room they built and designed was the Museum of Terror. Both of those are still two of their top booking rooms, along with their newest room, Studio 51.
Misconceptions About Escape Rooms
There are several misconceptions Kay and Steven encounter from people who don’t know much about escape rooms.
“Some people are afraid to do an escape room because they think they’re locked in, it’s going to be small and dark and all this, but our rooms are big and bright and we don’t lock people in,” Steven said.
People also seem to be afraid of looking bad because they’ve failed, but they encourage people to try anyway.
“People actually find out that they can figure out more than they think they can,” Steven said.
“It’s not for everybody, but a lot of people will find out they have a lot of fun doing it, and like I said, they can do a lot more,” Kay added. “It doesn’t take being smart to do the rooms. It takes being smart or clever.
The Makings Of A Good Team
Kay said there are a few different roles that are good to fill on your team: searchers, solvers and closers. The roles are different but all very important. Searchers see what they can find, solvers figure out the puzzles and closers go around and open all the locks they can find.
Each of those roles are often necessary for solving the room successfully before the 60-minute timer is up. It’s also helpful to have different people step up and be the leader rather than just one person.
“We have teams where you see one person is the leader the whole time and nobody will make a move without that person giving the okay on it, and those teams actually struggle a lot because people feel like they shouldn’t excel on their own,” Kay said.
“I think that’s the one thing that sometimes businesses forget about: how valuable their teams are,” she added.
With so many puzzles to solve in each room, not every team wins every time. Kay said that even when teams don’t win, they still leave feeling good for what they were able to accomplish. Teams can ask for hints if they’re struggling, but not everyone wants to do that.
“Some teams don’t want to ask for help, but sometimes in life, you have to ask for that help,” she said. “We try to make sure they leave feeling good about themselves no matter the outcome.
No matter who you’re with, doing an escape room will help players other in a new light.
“People become very much who they really are when they’re in the room,” Kay said. “They forget to have their walls up and their boundaries. There’s a clock, there’s a mission and they want to take it and do it.”
Because of this, escape rooms can be an important step for hiring potential new employees and also building team morale with current employees. Participants help improve communication, cooperation, problem-solving skills and more.
Doing escape rooms with your coworkers can help you see strengths you didn’t know they had, which helps you see them in a different light both then and at work, Kay said.
“You try to solve the puzzle and you can’t, and then you watch your coworker step up and do it, and you realize that person has skills that you maybe didn’t realize,” she said. “So the next time you’re at work and you’re thinking ‘I’ve got a problem,’ maybe you’ll go to them where maybe you wouldn’t have beforehand.”
Kay said she’s learned that if people push themselves further, they can do and solve more than they might’ve thought they’d be able to do.
“Every time you solve something or you watch someone solve something, it gives you more confidence or desire to do more,” she said.
About Puzzled Escape Rooms
Most rooms can hold up to 10 people each. Organizations can reserve several rooms at a time depending on the schedule. All games are $26 per person. Sessions take place every two hours.
Puzzled Escape Rooms feature five different rooms:
- Madam Zella’s Psychic Parlor, where you have to find the cash Zella has been swindling from her clients. Success rate: 45.83%
- Museum of Terror, where you have to find a stake and put a vampire down. Success rate: 60.11%
- NDSU Bison Fan Cave, where you have to find the stolen playbook before other teams can get their hands on it. Success rate: 70.54%
- Chapel de Puzzled, where you have to find the marriage certificate after the Best Man stole it. Success rate: 41.40%
- Studio 51, where you have to figure out why a photographer was being followed by the men in black and then disappeared. Success rate: 52.83%
Success rates as of 6/13/2018
Puzzled Escape Rooms
114 Broadway North, Suite L1, Fargo
Monday-Saturday: 10 a.m. – 9 p.m.
Sundays: 1 -4 p.m.
Benefits of Escape Rooms For Team-Building
- Discover strengths of your co-workers that you didn’t realize they had
- Different people have the opportunity to be leaders, regardless of their position at a company, which builds confidence and team morale
- Hone your communication, cooperation and problem-solving skills with team members to help solve the puzzles and challenges contained in each room
Also, be sure to check out this puzzle from Puzzled Escape Rooms in the June 2018 issue of Fargo Monthly!
Check out Fargo Monthly‘s Facebook page for a chance to win Puzzled Escape Rooms tickets!