Decision Paralysis in Escape Rooms

So youve signed up with friends or coworkers for the glory of an experience that an escape room is. Are you equipped to tackle all the puzzles and subsequent decisions you have to make? One common phenomena that leads to time wasted and difficulty solving puzzles is.. drum roll please.. because its totally natural to expect audience participation in a blog post.. decision paralysis! But there are ways to overcome this annoying block in mental functioning. Read on to save yourself and your team!

Decisions, Decisions!

Decision paralysis is a phenomenon where too many choices lead us to put off decision-making to a later date because choosing now is too difficult. Weve all experienced this in our daily lives. Imagine grocery shopping and youre in the pasta aisle. Which pasta should you pick? The gluten-free, vegan option sourced from a country that recently had a drought and really could use your dollars? Your tried and true favorite from childhood? The cheapest so you can save for retirement? The most expensive because youre feeling bougie and bad? The list goes on. In an escape room, players can get overwhelmed with number of clues found, and unwilling to pick a path of reasoning and go with it. They might decide to procrastinate and come back later, but time could run out by then.

Youre Not Alone

Its not just your daily life that proves decision paralysis exists. Numerous studies have been conducted to shed light on this phenomena. In one study on Americans and retirement, it was found that the more options for retirement that employees are offered by employers, the less likely they were to enroll in a 401k. Another study amongst doctors compared the decisions made when doctors were told they had one alternative versus two alternatives to an invasive surgical procedure. It was found that doctors were more likely to pick the alternative medical path when it was only one alternative vs. two alternatives. This is a rather frightening observation, since it means that doctors could be recommending more invasive procedures with higher risks when they have too many options to pick from. 

How to Get Unstuck!

So now we know what decision paralysis is and how it shows up in all sorts of choices, ranging from retirement funds to medical procedures. It affects everybody, but dont fret, theres ways to overcome this momentary blip on your path to escape greatness! Just remember the following tips:

  • Maybe perfectionism is getting in the way of your decision-making. Remind yourself that for many puzzles, there are multiple ways to solve them, and youll likely have multiple, even unlimited attempts to solve.
  • Embrace the experiment; its ok to guess! This second tip reminds you to think like a child and allow yourself to make mistakes and learn from them. You are, after all, in a game!
  • Dont be afraid to ask for help and let pride get in the way; discuss with your teammates first if youd like to postpone asking your game host!
  • If youre still feeling overwhelmed, communicate to a teammate that you are leaving a puzzle unsolved so that someone else can tackle it. 

Just Remember

Take a deep breath, and start to relax. When there are too many choices presenting themselves in the escape, remember the tips just discussed. In the end, not making a decision is still a decision, albeit arguable the least helpful one in terms of leading you out of the escape room. So go ahead and choose one at