Just like any business, escape rooms have their own lingo, an insider’s language that game masters and experienced players use to effectively communicate. You don’t need to understand industry terms to enjoy the thrill of an escape room, but knowing a couple of phrases can certainly be helpful. Here is some escape room vocabulary to help you when you play your next game.
Linear and divergent design
Most escape room businesses (ourselves included) won’t give you too much information about their games so that they don’t spoil the surprise, but one useful piece of information that isn’t secret is whether or not a game has a linear or divergent design. The terms “linear” and “divergent” refer to how the puzzles are organized in the space. In a linear game, you travel through the puzzles one by one, as each solution unlocks new information for the next puzzle. In a room with a divergent design, many puzzles are available to be solved at once and can be solved by different players at the same time. Games with a divergent design may be a bit more challenging since there isn’t a clear starting point, but don’t let that deter you. The Haunting of Noriko has a divergent design and has been a staff and customer favourite since it was built!
The term “puppeting” is just what it sounds like; it refers to an escape room player using another person as a proxy. This other person may be a game master who is helping them out, or another player in their group. Now, you might ask why puppeting would ever be necessary; There are many instances where an escape room might demand one player puppet another, usually when parts of a puzzle are separated and the player who is the “puppet” needs directions to something they can’t see. There are also instances of players choosing to puppet their friends when someone in their group is not on the same page as everyone else. A friend may dictate their actions to help keep the game on track. Puppeting is not something that happens frequently, but the term is a key piece of escape room vocabulary that will help you better communicate with your team and game masters.
Forcing a puzzle
For many players, “forcing” has a negative connotation because they assume it means a physical force that’s done damage in the game. But when we talk about forcing a puzzle, we really mean that it was solved without all of the necessary information. A forced puzzle may have been solved out of its turn in the puzzle path, or it may have been solved by a lucky guess. Most puzzles that are force-solved are combinations, where three of four digits are known to the group and someone diligently tries all other combinations until they crack the code. There’s nothing wrong with this method–in fact, if your group is having a hard time with a puzzle and solves the puzzle through force, your game masters will applaud you for saving time!