I *love* a good immersive puzzle. It began with the annual Chinese New Year Treasure Hunt, which I’ve done for the last three years with my colleagues. For that you run around a square half-mile area in the FiDi/China Town/Russian Hill/Embarcadero area while the Chinese New Year parade happens in the middle of your 4~5 hour quest.
Then I heard about the “Escape from the Mysterious Room.” It’s called a Real Escape Game (REG), a genre of puzzle-hunting where they trap you in a room filled with clues, and you only have a limited time, usually an hour, to escape. They hold it at the New People center in J-town, tucked between the floors of anime stationary stores and Lolita boutiques. That one was the first series to hit the Bay Area. It was definitely fun but way too hard (apparently only 1~2% of people got out in time and beat it).
Now there’s a new one—Escape from the Puzzle Room—which is the one I did today. It was GREAT. The crew that I came with, I gotta say, did a lot of the heavy lifting in terms of puzzling. They make you work with everyone who shows up (11 ppl in all), and the strangers we got really had no idea what they were doing. oh wells.
But we won!! (Well, we didn’t actually escape the room, one of our teammates figured out where the key was just as the buzzer was going off. It was close enough and we solved every puzzle soooo…..)
Puzzle hunts are awesome because they make you process information on so many different levels. You have to be a sleuth, and look for clues and find patterns at every moment. You have to remember factoids. You have to be willing to take risks and think creatively. You have to be good at working with others, know how to communicate well, and recognize when and how to delegate tasks or when you step up and support someone else as they lead. And you have to do all that under a ticking timer.
It feels so good to have all of these different parts of your brain stimulated at once in a pleasant frenzy. It’s also a kind of entertainment that’s not based on consumption (of a good nor mass culture), and you come out feeling so accomplished. Win win and win.
Anyway, you should check it out if you’re in the Bay Area, but see if they might also have it at a Japan town near youuuu~