Escape the room puzzle games are on TV and movie screens everywhere. So, from the perspective of an escape room game designer and owner, how well are they portrayed?

By now, it feels like every sitcom has shoved their characters into an escape room, for better or worse.

As a creator of award-winning escape rooms, I’m very interested in their influence on popular culture. I’m currently documenting rooms shown in television shows and in films, their puzzles and game flow, and how these games are used to advance the show’s narrative, and showcase character dynamics and development.

So far, I’ve…


Escape the room puzzle games are on TV and movie screens everywhere. So, from the perspective of an escape room game designer and owner, how well are they portrayed?

The B-plot of an episode of the CW show Crazy Ex-Girlfriend (s04e04, “I’m Making Up for Lost Time”) shows a mother and her teen sons getting to know each other in new ways while they solve a medieval-themed escape room game.

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is a show with a lot of heart, and while its characters make mistakes (a lot of mistakes), they also learn and grow over time…all while singing hilarious…


Escape the room puzzle games are on TV and movie screens everywhere. So, from the perspective of an escape room game designer and owner, how well are they portrayed?

The down-on-their-luck Rose family visits an escape room for a bachelor party in a late episode of Schitt’s Creek (s06e11, “Escape Room”), but outside pressures come to a head during their game session in a Darwin-themed laboratory.

The episode allows the characters’ personality quirks to shine in the pressure-cooker environment. We don’t get to see many of the puzzles, but the ones we do see are realistic representations of an actual…


Escape the room puzzle games are on TV and movie screens everywhere. So, from the perspective of an escape room game designer and owner, how well are they portrayed?

The episode of CBS’s 2 Broke Girls (s05e05, “And the Escape Room”) shows a team-building outing to an Alice in Wonderland-themed escape room.

Unfortunately, the team can’t stop sniping at each other in racist ways long enough to solve anything, the room is physically unstable and dangerous, and two people keep trying have sex during the game. Everything about this game, and this episode, is bad. Really bad.

The Show

There’s a brief…


Escape the room puzzle games are on TV and movie screens everywhere. So, from the perspective of an escape room game designer and owner, how well are they portrayed?

The B-plot of an episode of Hasbro’s My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic (s07e02, “All Bottled Up”) features a team-building trip to a rainbow-colored, jewel-encrusted, lightly jungle-themed escape room.

Each of the ponies has a distinct personality, and while they often come into conflict, they always talk through their problems and resolve them. It’s a great setup for an escape the room scenario, and even though the show pokes gentle fun…


Escape the room puzzle games are on TV and movie screens everywhere. So, from the perspective of an escape room game designer and owner, how well are they portrayed?

A standalone skit in an episode of IFC’s Portlandia (S08e03, “No Thank You”) depicts a couple on a date and a pair of escape room enthusiasts demolishing, both literally and figuratively, a world traveler/murder mystery-themed room.

Portlandia is a show about Portland, Oregon, featuring skits that showcase parts of the city and caricatures of its residents. …


Escape the room puzzle games are on TV and movie screens everywhere. So, from the perspective of an escape room game designer and owner, how well are they portrayed?

The B-plot of an episode of NBC’s Brooklyn Nine-Nine (s03e14, “Karen Peralta”) features a fraught last-minute police station outing to a Cold War-themed escape room game.

Brooklyn Nine-Nine is wonderful show about goofy police officers who exist in a hilarious, exaggerated fantasy world that nonetheless hinges on kindness and integrity. It’s one of my favorite shows on television, and I was ecstatic that it’s getting a new season. …


Escape the room puzzle games are on TV and movie screens everywhere. So, from the perspective of an escape room game designer and owner, how well are they portrayed?

The cold open of an episode of ABC’s The Rookie (s01e08, “Time of Death”) features an escape room. Officers Talia Bishop (Afton Williamson) and John Nolan (Nathan Fillion) chase a suspect into a medieval-themed room and find themselves trapped inside.

I’ve never seen this show, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. My mother is a huge Nathan Fillion fan, though, so when she texted me that there was an escape…


On Friday, June 8, my partner and I found a medallion, part of an annual treasure hunt put on by Portland’s Rose Festival. Every day for two weeks, clues are printed in The Oregonian that help players narrow down the final location.

This is the diary I kept during the game, discussing in detail our thoughts on the clues*, our solving methods, and our trips to various gorgeous Oregon state parks.

*many of which were pretty off, even though we ended up in the right place; there’s an official clue guide here

Sunday, May 27 (Day 1)

Researching our history and looking up lore
is…


(Photographer: Ben Peter Catchpole)

In April, I had the privilege of creating a newly-commissioned art/play piece, “The Silence in Room 1258” for Now Play This, a games festival in London. Situated in an antique desk, the game is a self-paced examination of ephemera from a 1930s Hollywood hotel after a paranormal incident.

Laura E. Hall

Immersive, escape rooms, narrative, video games, ARGs, VR, puzzles, mysteries. PLANNING YOUR ESCAPE, Simon & Schuster. KATAMARI DAMACY, Boss Fight Books.

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