Sometimes it’s good to have your mind explode a little. Just a little. A baking-soda-volcano-science-fair-project explosion — not a nuclear bomb explosion. I would describe the Kirksville escape room, The Ville, as a slight mind explosion — still an explosion, still mind boggling. But in an entertaining way.
I went to the newly-opened escape room in town on a Saturday in late August with my three friends senior Allyson Lotz and juniors Nick Telep and Paige Karls. We sadly did not escape but were informed by the escape room employee we were only one clue away.
I’m not going to lie, there were some hardships inside that escape room. The timer placed in the room with us was a constant reminder that we needed to stop our dilly-dallying and find another clue. Despite the struggles, I thought our group worked well together and had a blast.
I learned pretty quickly as we tirelessly worked to decipher the first couple clues, there are four different types of people you can take with you into an escape room, and each member of our team fit one of those labels.
First, every group has a leader. For our group, Telep naturally took on that role. Telep had completed escape rooms before and when we got locked inside the room he immediately sprang into action and began to delegate tasks. In his typical Telep fashion, he began surveying the room and already had a game plan and heightened skepticism of anything and everything around us. This escape room was cool because there were a lot of messages hidden inside unsuspecting objects or items. This made Telep’s intuition to not rule out anything as a clue proved to be helpful, but it also proved to be a bit of a distraction. Telep’s type-A personality was instrumental and helped us move from one task to the next, but also made him develop a case of ants in the pants.
The second position in the group is the actual leader. Though, not to devalue Telep’s role in our close but failed attempt to escape because he was very good at looking at things and questioning their meaning. Even though he appeared to be the leader of the group from the outside, I think Lotz was the actual leader. Lotz was — in a lot of ways — the heart of the team. This escape room had a lot of trial-and-error elements as well as sifting through information. With so much information overload, Lotz always had a plan, and when that plan didn’t work, a plan B, and a plan C, and a plan D — you get it. She was prepared. She wasn’t as easily “shook”— as the youngsters say — like the rest of our team. That is the mark of a good leader. She guided us and encouraged us to try everything, and when we had tried everything to, no, I mean try everything. Lotz — in a lot of ways, saved our booties and had many good ideas.
The third position in the group is the patient, calming force. That was Karls. Like Lotz, she didn’t get frazzled by tasks, but Lotz had a certain intensity about her that Karls lacked. Karls was just there to try her best and have a good time. While the rest of us were stuck in our own thoughts — panicked and trying to make sense of the nonsensical things in front of us— Karls was there as the encouragement for the team, praising us when we made a discovery or had an impressive feat and pumping us up with a kindly worded pep talk when we felt we’d hit a brick wall. If our group was an Oreo, Telep and Lotz were the cream, Karls was the outer cookies, and I, well, I was the glass of milk off to the side.
That brings me to the fourth and final position in the group — which I took on wholeheartedly — the clueless one. I had never done an escape room before, and, while we attempted to look for clues, I was often the one who supplied outlandish and convoluted ideas as to where the clues might be located and what they might mean. I also had a couple derpy moments — my biggest one was when I crouched under a table to look for a clue, exclaimed with excitement that I had discovered said clue, then proceeded to bang my head on the table. While I will admit I likely did not pull my weight on the team, I think I was the comedic relief of the group. My laughable mistakes and ridiculous ideas served as a reminder to the team that yeah, we want to escape, but ultimately the escape room is supposed to be fun.
In my opinion, the escape room succeeded in making me have fun. The theme of the room, the ways the clues were distributed and the different hurdles put in place to find the clues took a lot more abstract thought as opposed to the logical, concrete thinking I’ve been told some other escape rooms require. I think this particular escape room also involved paying close attention to details and meticulous studying of different obstacles and objects. In addition, this escape room relied a lot on finding patterns and common themes in the room. Picking out specific commonalities was very helpful in solving the puzzle and getting out.
While I have no prior escape room knowledge to base this experience on, I had a lot of mind boggling, stimulating, energizing fun and definitely look forward to going back and exploring The Ville’s next room. It was a great way to escape my usual Saturday responsibilities, for sure.