It is that time of year again – the summer is here, which means it’s yearly picnic/teambuilding time for Optiweb, web agency I have a pleasure of working at. A part of the program was entrusted to me, and escape rooms go hand in hand with team buildings for some time now. However, this year, instead of visiting an escape room, I’ve decided to try out something new – an escape experience in the company’s town, customized for the company. It’s not really a new concept – scavenger hunts & outdoor escape adventures are a thing for quite a while. This one, however, was made with the people that will be solving it in mind, meaning some puzzles could be more tech-y oriented, and some company trivia questions added to the mix. Here’s how it played out.
The company is located in Škofja Loka, Slovenia. It being a nice little medieval town made the choice easy – it is literally covered with points of interest, so choosing only the 6 that were used in the end was no easy task. A while back, most of the employees were living in, or close to Škofja Loka, but that’s not the case any more, and a chance to combine a teambuilding activity with a bit of sightseeing was more than welcome.
To make sure the participants have to go to the points of interest, let’s include location-specific puzzles that can only be solved at the location!
Overall, most of the locations had two puzzles – one that took some more thinking power, and one, that was location specific, and could only be solved at the specific location – if we’re making an outdoors escape experience, we have to give the participants a reason not to just sit down at a nearby cafe, and go through the tasks & solve them right there. It’s time to get moving! 🙂
Checking the puzzles solutions & your new favourite hint system
Not having a “game master” to look over the teams every step of the way had its challenges – guiding the way, checking if the team got the correct answers to the puzzles, and giving hints, if needed, needed a bit more… creative approach.
Guiding the way was done by each team having a map, and getting stickers after each completed location, showing them where to go next.
Checking the solutions they thought were right was done in a low-budget way – a QR code, leading to a password-protected site. Entering the correct password would unlock the site, giving the team bits and pieces of information they would need in the last meta-puzzle which revealed the final location.
And what about if the teams needed some help? A hint system with no game master interference was needed, as 5 teams were playing at the same time, and guiding them all would be close to impossible. Hints were just printed next to puzzles in the end, and covered in a silver overlay that could be scratched off if they needed help – with an impact on the final scoring of course!
And to spice things up a bit…
All the puzzles couldn’t be just printed, and given away – quite a few required props to solve, and giving the teams props right away would kind of spoil the whole thing. The props were packed into envelopes, with instructions when to open them. However, not all envelopes contained props, and getting a reward mid-escape experience can be a nice touch… Can you figure out the rebus? 🙂
As an additional way to score points for the final scoring, trivia questions about the company & its employees were added – a way to get to know the company, and each other a bit better.
How many Christmas presents did we give away last year? What’s the age difference between oldest and youngest employee? When was the first opti-baby born? Those are just a few examples – mostly, each location had two (or more) questions waiting for the groups.
Ready, set, go!
With the last puzzles finished, last hints painted over, envelopes filled and 5 different paths (a different path for each of the teams of course) planned, the escape experience was almost ready for a live run. The tasks & puzzles were neatly packed into booklets the teams carried with them, and work through them, location by location, task by task.
It was time to divide the employees into groups and send them on their way (with an option to call if they ran into some weird “features”). The first location was in the offices, so we could check if they understood how it’s supposed to work, and in a few minutes, the first puzzles were solved, the first trivia questions answered and the adventure was ready to begin.
Scoring & responses
Have to admit, I was a bit nervous when the teams set of – after working on it for such a long time, you kind of lose the feeling if the whole thing is even going to be fun or not. After about an hour and a half, when the first group returned, it was clear that the activity was a great hit, and that they enjoyed it immensely. It reminded me of a time when you come out of a really good escape room, and you just have to discuss all the good parts with the team, and, most importantly, create fond memories of the experience.
The final scoring wasn’t even the most important part, but it was a mix of time when they returned, the number of hints used, and the number of trivia questions answered correctly. And yes, the first team to return, in the end, missed the first place by a point.
Altogether, it was completely worth the many weekends and afternoons of planning, putting together the ideas, dismantling them and finding new ones, testing, painting, cutting and glueing together. It was a great opportunity to create and test a customized experience for a company, and mix in some elements that you just couldn’t find in a regular escape room.
And what about you? Tried out something similar? Comments, ideas & questions are more than welcome, write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org!