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Let's Talk about Leaderboards

Let's Talk about Leaderboards

It's interesting to us that there are many escape room game businesses that insist on putting up a leader-board that shows how well previous teams performed. It's not something we could ever get behind. For us, the game is about much more than creating a record as the fastest team to complete a room. If speed is the only metric for measuring an escape room experience, then that's going to be leaving an awful lot behind. There's so much more to taking part in an escape room game than just focusing on getting out as quickly as possible. Yes, of course, you want to complete the game before the clock ticks down to zero. But for a new team to come into the games reception room and be faced with a leader-board is going to be disheartening from the get-go.

Posting fast times for all new customers is just off-putting. For a start, most of those times are way beyond the capabilities of the majority of players. They represent outliers, players who have a huge amount of escape room gaming experience to bring to the table. You average player, going in for the first time, has no way of competing to this level. So those numbers marked up on the whiteboard mean nothing apart from setting an unrealistic goal.

Unrealistic Expectation And Then Disappointment

Having an existing record for the room known beforehand by a new team will set expectations. This will lead them to focus on this number when their real focus should be on solving the clues and puzzles. From the moment they enter the room, they will feel that they are being compared to another team. And because this unknown team was made up of escape room super-heroes, the new team will start to feel the pressure as they begin t lag further and further behind. Having an impossible goal in place will only lead to disappointment. Everything that should be fun and exciting will be eclipsed by the need to be faster. And that's not how escape room games are meant to be enjoyed. 

Celebrate That You Group Did The Best They Could

Everyone likes a little competition once in a while. But a leader-board will change the competitive dynamic from your team versus the game to your team versus some unknown team who posted a monster time. So now you're trying to beat a team you've never met when you should be focusing on beating the escape room game you're playing in. When you do all finally manage to make your escape, the conversation should revolve around your efforts and you should feel pride in your achievements. Not by comparing yourself to others who played before. It's the hard work, the communication between all of you, the problem solving, the racing against the clock that should have you cheering and fist-pumping. if you just pit yourselves against some other score, then the whole experience will be one of disappointment. So, don't go there. Don't bother asking the game master for the "normal" time other players take. It's not important. What is important is that you all strive for something together. 

Leader-Boards Say Nothing Of The Fun Involved

One of the main factors that keep players immersed in the gameplay is the background narrative. The story drives the action forwards and gives the players a sense of purpose. You have to believe in this story, as it will, in its own way, give you a sense of urgency. The zombies will break into our room at any minute or the prison guards will return and find us. And one thing that will bring you out of that story, or even stop you from entering it at the very beginning, is the external pressure of the leader-board. The point here is that it's the story that should be the main driving force. Not the idea that you have to beat someone on the leader-board. There's a huge difference in the gaming experience between those who fully immerse themselves in the story, game and all, and those who remain detached. If you're not part of the room, then you really shouldn't play at all. You'll be missing out on all the fun and excitement that come with immersion. 

Play Against Yourselves

Instead of playing against someone you're never seen or met, play against yourselves. Interact with each other. one of the best features of the whole escape room game is that it will bring you all closer together as you share a common goal, that can only be achieved via teamwork. So, in some ways, you are all forced to work together. Those with a particular set of skills (as Liam Neeson says in Taken) will put those to good use. And those with other skills or a different way of thinking will find plenty to keep themselves busy as well. Hopefully, you'll all be lost in the moment and will have zero time to be thinking about other things, like someone else's score. Nothing matters but the team of players in that room.  

You're Here To Have A Great Time

We get one likes to lose. But the truth is that most escape room games end in the players being unable to finish the room within the allotted time. It's a sad fact of life. Most will certainly make it to the last room, and probably the last devious clue. But the all-important part is that everyone involved had a complete blast. You all got to know each other better by sharing this huge puzzle. That you didn't make it out in time means nothing compared to the sheer unmitigated fun you all had. Believe us, you'll spend much more time talking about the gameplay than you will about the fact that you ran out of time. having seen thousands of escape room games played, we can say that the happiest players are the ones who were completely focused on making their escape. Not caring about some leader-board score.

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