Kailin Scott is an expert at escape rooms. She works in escape rooms, she creates escape rooms, she an artist and uses her artistic ability to create escape room images and puzzles. She has always been a huge fan of video games, and she came across a series called Zero Escape. It’s an Escape Room Series featuring lots of puzzles. She really loved it and she wondered if this happened only in video games or if it was something that could be found in real life. Her boyfriend, who is from China, told her that in Asia, Escape Rooms are popular.
Most Influential Person
My boyfriend. He introduced me to Escape Rooms.
Q: So Kailin, if there’s someone listening today who is a little bit lost or unsure what we’re talking about when we say Escape Rooms, can you fill us in and explain it a bit more?
A: Escape Rooms are puzzle rooms where you are locked in and given an objective. There are two types: one where the objective is purely to escape and the other type where the objectives can be almost anything from finding someone’s medicine to solving a zombie apocalypse to even trying to fight a fire.
Q: I imagine Escape Rooms are a mindful experience because once you’re in there you really have to think about nothing else except getting out or solving the puzzle. Is this true?
A. When you get in there you can only focus on the puzzles because you’re in there with a time limit, so much so that you don’t even know what time it is. You have to get an announcement at five minutes [before the end], or sometimes at about thirty minutes [before the end]. You are usually in there with a team of two to six people. It’s a lot of teamwork, so it’s thinking together.
Q: Are you usually in there with random people you’ve never met or do you usually go there with friends?
A: It can work in a lot of different ways. There are facebook groups where you can meet random people to meet up with and do random escapes. A lot of the time you do plan this with your friends. Sometimes there are escape rooms that will set you up with random strangers to do the room.
Q: Does this mean that you could escape the room and nobody else will?
A: It depends on the room escape really. Some of them do set you up in teams where you do battle against each other to see who gets out first. Other ones expect you to work completely as a team to all be able to escape.
Q: Do you have to be really good at solving puzzles to get out of the room?
A: Not necessarily. As long as you can wrap your mind around the logic of puzzles or at least be able to bounce ideas off other people, you should be able to think your way through it.
Q: What are some of the most creative types of puzzles you’ve seen in Escape Rooms?
A: One of my favorite puzzles so far has been a puzzle that was completely in braille. Usually, if they’re going to make you learn another language, they will leave some sort of hint around. In this case, it was a complete wall of encyclopedias. You had to look at this and see that it was braille and one you had this figured out you can go through all of the books to try and figure out what was going on and then actually use the braille to solve the puzzle and open the lock.
Q: I understand there are Escape Rooms that just suddenly appear for a few weeks or months. Tell us about those?
A: Those are Pop-Up Rooms. They’ll appear every once in a while, and they’re usually situated around a certain theme. The video game called Zero Escape does have a Pop-Up one that’s currently going around in the U.S. It should be coming to Canada at some point. There are other ones such as Dracula’s Library, Casa Loma (Toronto Ontario Canada), and other ones that do pop up but then have made permanent homes in big cities such as Toronto.
Q: Can you explain what you actually do in your role in creating Escape Rooms?
A: In that role, I’m an artist. I’m brought in to help make the puzzles come to life. Someone writes down the puzzles on paper; they explain the puzzles to me and then I try to make that puzzle happen. Whether it’s creating a drawing, building a chest that has a mechanical rig or even just going out and picking up locks. It’s taking that idea from paper and making it a reality.
Q: When people come to participate in an Escape Room, is there a way that you can help get them relaxed and get them into the mood of what they’re going to be doing in the event that they might never have done this before?
A: Beforehand, someone’s going to explain all the locks you may come across in the room because not everyone’s seen a directional lock or a keypad and they may not know what it is. There’s usually a story to go on behind the room: something that sets you in the mood of the room. Whether you’re about to solve the Curse of the Mummies Tomb or just at your crazy old Aunt Edna’s place try to find her medicine, there’s always a story behind the room. Other things they’ll tell you are don’t overthink it because if you overthink it you’re probably not going to have a good time. Thinking too hard just leads to no escape.
Q: Here at ConBravo Kailin, you were doing a presentation yesterday about Escape Rooms and you told us a story that explained why age is no limit. You told us about some women who came to the Escape Room that you work at. Can you tell us that story now?
A: Definitely. We had a group called Sunday Funday and I swear they looked like the Golden Girls. Possibly even older than the Golden Girls. They came in, they’ve never done an Escape Room before, but they’re locals and were just so excited to do this. They went in; they had a wonderful time. They actually made it really far. The logic and the thought processes they had when they did this was absolutely amazing to watch. I got to game master for them and they had a wonderful time. They didn’t really escape, but they left feeling a lot smarter than when they went in.
Q: Have you had people come who didn’t escape and they wanted to come back repeatedly until they figured it out?
A: This happens quite often. A lot of escape rooms will have a second timer discount because you’ve already gone and completed maybe 25% of the room and you want to complete the rest of it. This discount will often take up to 50% off your visit to go and do this escape room again and just keep doing it and doing it until you get it.
Q: I expect people do this to celebrate events or parties. Would you explain some of the events people use as a reason to come to Escape Rooms?
A: Personally, I regularly attend Escape Rooms for my birthday, my boyfriend’s birthday, my friends birthdays. We have a lot of people who come with their soccer teams to celebrate victories. Even here at ConBravo, the staff went and did the Escape Room in town just to celebrate the fact that the Con has kicked off.
Q: Can it help bond people who come to the rooms, because you are really working as a team?
A: Very much so. We had a mother who booked her daughter and her boyfriend who she was fighting with at the time, to go into the room together. She said, you’re probably going to see some yelling, but by the end of it the relationship was actually really strong. They came out very happy and worked through their differences because they had to work together.
Q: Can you tell us about some humorous escape rooms or some escape rooms with humor in them?
A: One of my favorite ones that I’ve run into is a scale. A lot of people are scared to step on scales so people will just avoid the scale but you actually have to step on the scale and it’s going to read the wrong weight every time. It’s going to read the same way for everybody who steps on it. The people who come in there have very different reactions to it. There are people who will say, this scale is very complimentary and there are other people who will say, the scale says, I’m fat. A lot of people just tend to avoid the scales altogether. It’s kind of hilarious to watch. Honestly, if you’re in an Escape Room, the point is to check everything.
Q: I know you probably have to be discreet about some of the tricks that are in Escape Rooms, but can you tell us some of the trickiest types things that people will encounter in an escape room?
A: Maps are your worst enemy. A lot of Escape Rooms will use old maps and you’re going to have to calculate coordinates. If you’re really good at map reading, that’s awesome. My friends and I are not so we tend to run into problems with those. Sometimes rooms will get you to do algorithms for math, but those rooms tend to leave you some note paper so you can write down your ideas as you go and don’t have to do it in your head.
Q: What sorts of puzzles would work really well for an artistic person?
A: Being able to have a spatial sense of where you’re going and what you’ve seen; a memory of what you’ve seen on the walls or even just picking out the finer details. If you have an eye for these fine details, you can find things that other people who are more literal-minded have missed.
Q: Being artistic, what are some of the most fun, artistic things you’ve created for escape rooms?
A: My claim to fame is Aunt Edna’s Condo in Hamilton Ontario Canada at The Crux. In that room there are about twenty paintings hidden somewhere in the room in various places. I created every single one of those over the course of three days with nothing but markers.
Q: Do you sometimes get your friends involved in creating some of these puzzles?
A: At this point it’s always been my co-workers. I was hired on by a team. My friends do get to come in and test the rooms sometimes.
Q: Sometimes do people set up something like this in their own home for a personal party?
A: Yes. They are working on building kits for people to do this kind of thing at home and even in classrooms, so people will take it to schools as well. It’s called Escape Room In A Box. There’s a KickStarter going right now. It is everything you need to have a mini Escape Room in your house.
Q: Can you think of any other really funny people who came in to solve these puzzles?
A: We had a group come in from Texas and they called themselves the Texas Rearrangers. They were visiting family in Hamilton. They consisted of a 14-year-old girl, her 9-year-old brother, the mother, the father and the aunt. They went into the room and the girl decided to be a complete drama queen, star-fishing herself on the floor, screaming, “We’re never getting out of here.” The brother grabbed one of the props in the room and decided to dance to build moral support. So obviously watching them on the camera was pretty amusing.
Q: Have you had people come into the room who have been too serious and not been able to relax with it?
A: Definitely. Not everybody feels comfortable coming into the room. You’ll get a lot of questions beforehand. Some people will go in there so serious and so focused on trying to solve this that they kind of put themselves in a corner. You need to be able to think, observe what’s around you. You can’t just hyper-focus on one thing. You need your mind to be open and you need to be aware. You need to rely on your teammates. You’re not a one-man army in this situation.
Q: Is there any negativity around Escape Rooms that you’ve heard?
A: There have been a couple of people that gave bad reviews to Escape Rooms. We’ve had people come in that just don’t enjoy themselves. They find the puzzles too hard, or they’re too frustrated because they didn’t beat it. People tend to get upset when they lose so you do have some sore losers who say they’re never coming back and never doing anything like it again. It’s kind of sad because you would like to see people try it again, maybe trying other Escape Rooms, because every one is a bit different.