Escape Rooms and Losing...
Take, essentially, any league-based sport. Teams that lose will be eliminated from contention, their chance to achieve the pinnacle of success in their respective sport lost, at least for that season. This gives every game a sense of purpose, a reason for being played, and it makes the competition real and fierce, particularly as the season progresses. These sports hold their value for both the fans and the players because the danger posed by losing makes every single match count, and every victory sweet.
So, why should escape rooms let you lose? If you know victory is assured, the clock counting down from 60 minutes is just window dressing, a meaningless gimmick meant to instill the feeling of tension where there isn’t any. If you’re working on the last puzzle of and watching those final moments ticking down, only to have the final answer handed to you, the accomplishment of completing the room suddenly feels cheap. The most exciting moments of an escape room, in our opinion, occur in those last two minutes. You’re close to the end, you can feel it, but the clock is counting down. If you know you’ll win no matter what, there’s no tension or excitement. If, however, you know you’ve reached that critical point when you either win or lose, then the final two minutes become a tense race against the clock. You’re scrambling to finish the last puzzle as the clock is counting down, inexorably marching towards zero, as you scream and run and try desperately to figure out that very last little thing you need, and this makes the final moment of turning the key and opening the door all the sweeter. To escape with only seconds left, you emerge shouting and jumping and high-fiving, breathless with the experience you’ve had. This is why it’s important to be able to lose – if you can’t lose, winning means nothing.
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