“You’ll have to wait until we get there!” replied Becca, my girlfriend.
“But it’s my birthday! Where are we going? Tell me please, please, please!” I begged.
15 minutes earlier I was told to wear something comfortable and get in the car. As we drove to an unknown destination, it felt like one of the longest rides of my life. And I couldn’t stop thinking negatively “Where are we going?” “What if I don’t like it?” “Is it something I want to do?” “Will it be a waste of my time?” etc.
As we parked near the City Centre, I noticed a group of people standing on the corner of a street. As I looked closer, I realised that I actually recognised them. They were my close friends, two of whom had driven 300 miles to come see me. I looked at Becca with an overwhelmed gawk.
“What are we doing?!”, I was hushed by the fingers-on-lips gesture. We then strolled along the streets of Newcastle to the mystery destination. I’m not usually a nervous person, but I started to get those sickly, stomach tying knots you get when you’re over-thinking.
We turned the corner and BAM, there it was, my birthday treat, EXIT Newcastle! I was a mix of emotions - half excited, and half wanting to stay out of the spotlight. But I was ready to get involved.
If you’ve never heard of EXIT, they’re live games that rely on your problem-solving skills to find clues on how to unlock the rooms that you’re stuck in. You have a time limit of 1 hour to get out, and not only is it mentally stimulating, it's physically challenging too! I’ve seen a few of them on TV and often thought “I could do that! That’s easy!” So now the gauntlet was thrown down, and we would have to use our unique skills to EXIT the game.
We chose to do “Volatile Laboratories” which was medium difficulty, with only 64% success rate.
We picked up our lab coats, got debriefed, and listened to our “guide” (a robotic voice controlled by the creators of the game). “Good luck!”, those were the last words we heard before being locked in a small corridor together. I was taken aback at how quickly we all got stuck in - finding clues on the back of dull objects, and getting excited when we found a number or letter. I noticed we’d all taken roles that played to our strengths - when one person became confused at what to do next, another would stand up and say, “What about this?”
Our different outlooks inspired dynamic thinking when it came to overcoming obstacles. It was a complete team effort and (without giving anything away) it had a variety of different hurdles we had to overcome - such as complete focus for shooting down targets, a steady hand for a “beat the buzzer” round, and a lot of patience/dexterity for manipulating a chain to pick up objects in small tubes.
The 1-hour timer was constantly on show, and our computer guide would let us know how long we had left to finish the game. At first, this was comforting, feeling like we had loads of time left - that was until it roared “15 minutes left!”. Tensions were high, but we never argued or shouted at each other, we understood the necessity of keeping a cool head in a stressful situation.
In the last 10 minutes, we had 2 out of 3 objects necessary for getting out. But we still needed one more - the “Key Card”. We only had one locked locker left, and 2 codes left to use. We all ran to the locker and Michael got to it first, we told him the first code and his fingers were shaking with anticipation… Silence. It didn’t open.
Next code! The tension seemed too much for his fingers to bear.
“7 minutes remaining!” boomed overhead. He spun the lock to enter the code and “Click!” the lock popped off. He held on to the locker’s dial handle and fumbled, trying to spin it every which way so the locker would burst open. Everyone was watching, the CCTV game master was watching, even the skeleton in the room was watching! The dial just kept spinning… We knew he needed help, so I slowly reached over to his hand, pushed the dial in, and turned it right. The locker opened, and there was the key card.
We had done it.
“GET TO THE EXIT!” We ran to the door, inserted the key card, keycode, and kept the antidote tight in our hands. We had done it with 4 minutes and 4 seconds to spare! Breathing a sigh of relief, we celebrated with hugs, cheers, and a congratulatory photo.
From this experience, I learned to get excited over new and different challenges. Grab them with both hands, and work together using each other’s strengths to smash your targets. Don’t shout, don’t get angry. Keep calm, carry on, and beat the game with the best team you’ve ever worked with.
P.S. We’ll be doing the harder EXIT room this Halloween!
From left to right:
Michael – The Nerdy 1st Person Shooter
Rebecca – The Beautiful Ringleader
Eric – The Strategic Problem Solver
Becca N – The Commanding Voice
Sammy – The History Buff Animal Handler
Ross – The Bearded Tech Guy
Squires – The Disney Obsessed Right-Hand Man