In the age of COVID-19, companies are constantly looking for ways to engage remote team members while staying safe and compliant with local guidelines. One form of team building that has become increasingly popular is virtual escape rooms. ”From communication to problem-solving, virtual escape rooms provide teams with a foundation for long-lasting professional relationships," says David Trottier, director of event production at New York-based Interactive Entertainment Group. "Since a storyline is often included, participants are more likely to become invested in the experience than your average virtual event."
Daniel Daher of The Escape Game, a venue with multiple locations across the U.S. that shifted its in-person experience to virtual amid COVID-19, says: “You get to put your team members in such a fun, unique and interactive environment, where not only do they have to work together in order to be successful but, while they do it, you get to see their different personalities really show through!"
Keep reading for a few companies offering out-of-the-box virtual escape room options to take for a test-run during your next team-building session.
No matter which of Wildy Different’s six themes your team chooses, a designated Wildly Different Game Master will guide you through a personalized experience. After players are familiarized with the game, thanks to their designated Wildly Different Game Master, players use breakout rooms to collaborate with teammates to solve puzzles and clues in order to beat the game in the allotted time. Wildly Different’s virtual escape rooms are priced at a flat rate of $750 in addition to $25 per person and have no limit to the number of participants.
The Escape Game
The Escape Game created a series of virtual escape rooms in the past year, during which players get the same puzzles and tasks to overcome in order to complete the overall goal of escaping the room. To amp up the intensity, each escape room has a 60-minute time limit. Played via Zoom, Remote Adventures holds up to eight and costs $30 per player.
The Escape Game also offers Unlocked for teams, a team-building competition, ideal for larger teams of 30 or more. In this virtual experience, teams are split into smaller groups of three to six to work as "special agents" tasked with solving a crime, offering a competitive edge and bringing a different dynamic to the traditional team-building experience. Unlocked is priced at $28 per person.
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Boston-based TeamBonding created a themed experience for bringing teams closer together while we all live the WFH lifestyle. The Sherlock Holmes Murder Mystery Escape Room puts participants in the shoes of 18-year-old Sherlock Holmes in search of who murdered Lord Harrington in Chapelgate Manor. Primarily played via Zoom, the interactive game accommodates between 20 and 1,000 attendees. Pricing begins at $1,500.
"In our quest to defeat Zoom fatigue, we have a series of immersive events including our virtual escape rooms,” says David Goldstein, creator of opportunities for TeamBuilding. "These events prepandemic were a great way to bring people together, distribute strengths and share credit when working together to successfully escape the room. We've been able to recreate this feeling of competition and collaboration virtually and bring teams together, online."
Secret City Adventures
Secret City Adventures, based in Toronto, offers a variety of virtual escape rooms. With both live actors and 360-degree environments, the online experience has can be scheduled Wednesday through Sunday, with pricing starting at $15 per person for up to 150 people, or $40 per person for up to 200 people. Bonus: Use code BIZBASH21 for 10% off any experience.
”With a clear goal and the pressure of a ticking one-hour countdown, teams are required to delegate, collaborate and communicate in order to be successful. This adds an additional twist because players have to be precise and concise with their delegation and communication skills to be honed for any world-class team," says Secret City co-founder and CEO Tina Keenan.
With locations in Toronto and New York, Teambonders’ Mind Games virtual escape room features a scenario in which each player is an employee of a highly intelligent gaming company, called Mind Games, naturally. Each team is then tasked with saving the CEO of the company, who is being held hostage by a disgruntled employee with a high level of intel and security clearance. Teams are made up of about six players, and up to 50 teams can play at a time.
Creative director Mike Shiner says, “Collaboration, creativity and communication are the centerpieces of every option we offer.” Mind Games runs for approximately 75 minutes and pricing begins at $1,690 for up to 30 players. Additionally, 300 players are able to participate in the game at one time.
Interactive Entertainment Group
Bank Heist Escape Room is a virtual experience where participants attempt an exhilarating, high-stakes bank heist. The experience involves The Mowada foundation, a nonprofit organization that has recently lost its funding, and participants decide to take matters into their own hands by completing puzzles and clues to obtain the funds by any means necessary. Interactive Entertainment Group’s Bank Heist is $2,295, which includes four rooms with up to 15 people per room, and $550 per extra room. Bonus: Interactive Entertainment Group will donate $100 to World Vision, an organization dedicated to ending the global water crisis, for each organization with at least one session that successfully escapes.
Paruzal Games offers a new take on the virtual escape room called Pizza Makes Anything Possible. (This specific escape room recently won the award of best game design for its interesting premise and delivery.) Here’s how it works: Participants become employees of a pizza shop where the boss has left them in charge. The goal? To complete all the tasks necessary to make sure the shop is ready to be open on time. Pricing is $15 per person for up to 20 players, and the activity takes about 60 minutes to complete. Paruzal even offers a “no-hint” option where guests can try to top the leaderboard of the fastest escape. Anyone up for some friendly competition?
California-based Palace Games’ The Ruby Palace is a virtual escape room where teams have to work together to solve puzzles and clues located somewhere within the virtual Ruby Palace, where attendees have been invited to visit. The game is self-led, so teams can participate in this activity at their leisure and accessibility. The Ruby Palace costs $20 per person and is available to an unlimited number of players that can be broken down into smaller teams to make the event more intimate and interactive.