If you've never played an escape room game before, you probably have a preconceived idea that the best escape room games are those with the most difficult puzzles and brain taxing clues.  But once you play an escape room game, you'll quickly realise that it's all about the experience. And the best games are the ones that are totally immersive. It helps if you can lose yourself in the user experience and be able to continually follow the narrative, then the mystery and fun just never stops. Of course, there's going to be some puzzles that will leave you scratching your head and maybe it will cause you to stop in your tracks. You may spend a good 10 minutes looking at the puzzles, riddles and clues, and yet still find you're missing the very thing that's needed for a result. 

Once you see the solution there's a good chance you’ll smack yourself on the head and laugh. That's because all the obstacles that have been set up within the escape room are designed to make you think out of the box. In a regular sporting situation, someone might say “don't hate the player, hate the game.”  But in the context of escape room games, you have no one else to blame but yourself. One thing to consider is that there's a psychology behind solving escape room game puzzles. Unfortunately for the players, the designers of the game have made sure that these are stacked against you.

In our day to day life, we are constantly bombarded with visual and audio images. These can be in the form of advertisements, television shows, music videos, and of course the ubiquitous social media. With the latter there is a constant struggle for the engagement of the viewer. Hence the huge amount of clickbait. This comes from the fact that no matter how many images or videos creatives throw at us, we actually remember almost none of it. In order for the human brain to spring into action and start making connections or a memory, it needs a little more to feed on. And that’s why escape room games are such good “brain food.”

One of the best aspects of escape room game design is the fact that, unlike looking at a two-dimensional picture of a puzzle or riddle, you are playing within a real three-dimensional  tactile environment, which is dedicated to helping you develop new insights into old processors. But there is another basic problem. Because all the escape rooms are full of familiar props, then your eyes will naturally pass over the things you are really looking for. In other words, you are looking without seeing. Many clues and puzzles are hidden in plain sight, but most players simply can't see them.

In some ways, this is also a form of “decision paralysis''. This is not some terrible illness but a natural phenomenon that we deal with day in and day out. When faced with too many choices most people will become anxious. They fear that they are making an incorrect choice. Some may decide to only make the decision on a later date, hopefully when the situation is less stressful. 

Another problem is the player's limitations of their own imagination. Escape room games need the player to think outside the box. But although we suggest that you should “let your imagination run wild”, for many people that doesn't help as their own imagination is already considerably limited. And that's why, because technically there are endless ways to solve a puzzle, most players end up only concentrating on a single method. In fact, you'll find that  many players will waste a lot of time, trying again and again, the same methodology on a single puzzle, and always achieving the same failed results. The very definition of madness!

Yet another thing that we see in our escape room games is that some players become overwhelmed with the number of clues and puzzles they find. They struggle to find a train of thought that will connect all these objects together, and lead to a successful outcome. For some, this is a fear of commitment. They don't want to pick a particular tactic as it may not work out for them. The fear of being wrong or failure is greater than the fear of trying.

When players get stuck and start procrastinating, then all sorts of the time-keeping fly from their minds. Procrastination is just a form of decision paralysis. After struggling to solve a particular puzzle or clue, you may think to revisit it a little later. The problem is that by then, the time is already up. And with the sounding of the buzzer, marking the end of the game, you suddenly realise that you forgot about that initial puzzle. 

It’s only natural that your own perception is how you view your own reality. It's perfectly normal that you base your decisions on your particular perception or viewpoint. But an object found in an escape room game will normally have a very unusual or specific function. One of the things that's going to hurt your brain is that you've spent your life seeing that same object in a certain way, and now it's function is completely alien to you. That's because problem-solving needs much more than your automatic perception. 

At its base, all problem solving requires both conscious effort as well as more advanced mental activity. The problem here is that for most players, it’s very difficult to change your perception of the surroundings within the escape room. And this is probably the main reason that makes playing in an escape room such a taxing but ultimately enjoyable experience. Due to previous experience, many people imbibe objects as only having one fixed function. This is known as “functional fixity.'' The problem here is that the human brain is a stubborn organ. In many ways, it's blocking you from seeing things from a different perspective. 

By the way, there's no need to feel embarrassed if you are struggling to solve a puzzle. In some ways it's not your fault as such. You can place the blame squarely on the shoulders of human biology or psychology. Take note that the human brain forgets much more information that it remembers. You can take solace from the fact that a puzzle that was holding up the whole game for you, will be forgotten in 72 hours.