Jackson Chavarria is a manager at Cross Roads Escape Games, has a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology, and is working on his Master’s degree. Here is his take on interesting things he sees in our escape rooms through his psychology perspective.
We’ve all come across a problem that makes cognitive sense to us in how it should be solved, but then we realize that our method is not quite the right one. Our minds are constantly changing and learning the most efficient and effective solution in any given scenario, no matter how incredulous it may be.
If we come to a solution that doesn’t take much mental effort, it is semi-rewarding and doesn’t result in much change in our brains. They are fantastic in their abilities and can find shortcuts to complex problems. However, if we start to find the answer using extreme jumps of logic, our imperfect brains play a little trick on us. Because it has exhausted a ton of energy, it believes this must be the right way to figure out a puzzle.
This is typically not a huge issue, but it can quickly become unmanageable, and the player can find themselves in a trap some call “tunnel vision.” A player will start behaving as though their current train of thought is indisputable, frequently losing sight of other alternative methods for solving the problem. This can make the player irritable and unapproachable, derailing their fellow players from the correct path and losing precious time in an escape room.
Often it is stressful to be put in a situation where time is of the essence and you are thrown into an unknown environment. Your brain, scrambling to make sense of everything, is doing its best to aid in escape. Practically, if you feel yourself starting to slip into tunnel vision, these are some things I’ve found to be successful in helping stop this self-imposed obstacle.
As an aspiring psychologist, I’ve found that the #1 aid in reclaiming a calm mind is to breathe deeply. The best kind of breathing is an inhale for 5 seconds, and then an exhale for 7 seconds. Taking slow, intentional breaths lowers your heart rate, increases your awareness, and improves your state of mind.
2. TAKE A STEP BACK
We can begin to assign ourselves to a specific puzzle and make it our solo mission to figure out how to solve it. But there’s a reason escape rooms are typically played with others: some new insight! A fresh perspective may be just the thing that is missing from you and your group’s progression to the next puzzle.
3. CELEBRATE SMALL WINS
Each puzzle that you are presented with is meant to challenge your mind and make you begin to unravel the secrets that the room has for you. However, not permitting yourself to have a sense of pride and victory when you solve something is a factor that can make or break your mind’s clarity. Being your own cheerleader is sometimes one of the best things you can be for yourself!
Your brain is capable of being your greatest asset or your greatest enemy. Going into an escape room knowing these tips and tricks will help you be the reliable friend your friends will need!