Virtual escape rooms are engaging and interactive games that challenge participants to solve puzzles and complete tasks in a virtual setting that mimics physical escape rooms.

These games intend to test different skills and foster teamwork, making them popular for family gatherings, office team-building activities, and adventures with friends.

While similar to a physical escape room, where players are locked inside a room and must find their way out before time runs out, virtual escape rooms often lack time restrictions.

This allows participants to fully immerse themselves in the virtual world and enjoy the experience without the pressure of a ticking clock.

You might still be wondering, “What is a virtual escape room? What sets it apart?”

Here is everything you need to know about online escape rooms and how you can use them to strengthen your bonds with any group.

What are the Features of Virtual Escape Rooms?

A virtual or online escape room is an innovative concept that brings the thrill and excitement of an actual escape room into the digital realm, allowing groups to collaborate from anywhere in the world, regardless of time zone.

Some of the most common features of the best virtual escape rooms include the following.

  • No time limit
  • Built-in clue system
  • Availability for larger groups

With the flexibility of online escape rooms, many groups have seen the benefits of taking their escape game into the virtual world.

No Time Limit

Unlike their physical counterparts, virtual escape rooms do not have a time limit. This allows players to immerse themselves in the game for as long as they need to solve puzzles and find clues without the pressure of a countdown.

This aspect transforms the escape room experience into a more relaxed and enjoyable adventure, focusing on fun and teamwork rather than racing against the clock.

In these online escape rooms, if a team finds themselves stuck, they can rely on a game master for guidance, ensuring that groups play through to the end without frustration. You also do not have to rush solving those harder puzzles.

This allows for a more tailored experience, where the game master can fast forward or adjust the difficulty to keep the game engaging.

The flexibility to play at one’s own pace encourages a deeper connection among team members and a richer engagement with the game itself.

Built-in Clue System

Virtual escape rooms incorporate a built-in clue system that automates the process of providing hints and guidance, diverging from the traditional method where a person, such as a game master or game guide, offers clues.

This system allows players to request and receive hints directly through the platform, enabling them to crack codes and complete challenges more seamlessly.

The automation of clues ensures a smooth gameplay experience, allowing teams to solve puzzles without external interruptions.

The flexibility of this clue system, coupled with the virtual nature of the escape rooms, makes them an ideal choice for work-related team-building activities.

Teams can participate from various locations at times that suit them best, fostering fun and deeper connections between colleagues.

The built-in clue system supports this by allowing players to engage with the game and each other, regardless of their physical location, enhancing teamwork and problem-solving skills in a fun, interactive environment.

Availability for Larger Teams

Unlike physical escape rooms, online escape rooms are great for larger teams, like corporate entities seeking team-building exercises. They can also ask for support from game masters or escape room guides.

This feature is especially beneficial for teams larger than the typical four to eight players that real-life rooms accommodate, allowing for an inclusive and engaging experience for all participants.

The accessibility of these virtual games is further enhanced by the delivery method. The most common way is through a unique code sent via email, which grants access to the escape room with no expiration date.

This allows teams to organize and play online at their convenience, whether through a video call platform like Zoom, Google Forms, or other means.

The flexibility of a Zoom escape room allows participants to connect from anywhere, using just their computer and camera, making it an ideal setup for bringing together players from various locations for a fun and rewarding puzzle-solving adventure.

How Does a Virtual Escape Room Work?

how does a virtual escape room work?

Virtual escape rooms can come with different plots and themes, like searching for something that mysteriously disappeared or being trapped in a space like an abandoned office or haunted house.

However, all escape rooms have the following segments to slowly immerse the small group into a different world.

  • Onboarding Process
  • Game Initiation
  • Clue Delivery
  • Recommended Collaboration

Here is your guide to these virtual rooms for a successful escape experience.

Onboarding Process

The initial onboarding process for participating in a virtual escape room experience is designed to be as straightforward and user-friendly as possible.

The team leader receives a unique link, often called the Leader Code, to enter the game’s platform.

Upon accessing the platform, the leader is prompted to create a team name, setting the stage for the adventure ahead. This step helps organize the game and enhances the sense of unity among team members.

Following the setup by the leader, the invitation process for other team members begins. Each participant receives their own Player Code, distinct from the Leader code, which grants them access to join the team within the virtual escape room.

This ensures that all team members, whether puzzle lovers, family, friends, or colleagues aiming to become super sleuths like Sherlock Holmes, can easily connect and play together in the virtual escape room.

Game Initiation

The game in an online escape room starts when the team enters the starting keyword into a designated textbox on the game’s interface.

This action triggers the beginning of their virtual adventure, setting the players on their journey to solve the puzzles and complete the mission.

The process is designed to be seamless, ensuring that the transition from onboarding to actual gameplay is smooth and engaging for all participants.

Following the entry of the starting keyword, players are introduced to the lore of the escape room through a mission video or video feed, which provides a backdrop to the puzzles they will be solving.

This introduction offers highlights and essential information that set the tone for the adventure, ensuring that players are fully immersed in the story and understand the context of their mission.

This step enhances the game’s fun and excitement and helps connect the team as they embark on their shared adventure.

Clue Delivery

Clue delivery is designed to keep players engaged and motivated throughout their adventure in an online escape room.

Clues can be represented by yellow circles within the game’s interface, with additional hints unlocking as players devote more time to a puzzle. This mechanism ensures that help is available when needed, allowing teams to progress at their own pace.

Game designers craft this system to provide clues in a way that complements the game’s flow and enhances the overall experience. Depending on the setup, you can also have a dedicated escape room guide providing the necessary clues.

Furthermore, these games are usually browser-based and compatible with popular web browsers like Chrome and Firefox or through applications like Google Forms, making them accessible to be played anywhere.

This approach eliminates the need for downloads or special programs, making it incredibly easy for players to jump into the game.

The simplicity of accessing and playing the game through a browser ensures a smooth and hassle-free experience for participants, allowing them to focus solely on solving puzzles and enjoying the adventure.

Recommended Collaboration

For the best online escape room experience, players should collaborate over Zoom or similar video-conferencing applications.

This allows for real-time coordination and communication, which is essential for solving puzzles and advancing through the game. It allows them to work on their communication skills while they have fun accomplishing the online escape room.

Utilizing these platforms also facilitates the development of critical-thinking skills among team members, as they can discuss strategies, answer questions, and share insights instantaneously.

Families looking for a bonding activity can gather around one computer to play together. This setup provides a unique opportunity for a shared experience where family members can collectively engage in puzzle-solving and decision-making.

The communal aspect of working through an escape room guide’s challenges, both in the physical and digital spaces, enhances the fun and strengthens connections, making it a memorable adventure for all involved.

Virtual Escape Games Offered By Escapely

virtual escape games offered by escapely

Looking for a way to get your detective mode on in your digital space?

Check out Escapely’s variety of escape games and get in touch to book a demo with our team!

Introduction to Available Games

Escapely has a variety of escape room games that can improve your teamwork and critical-thinking skills.

Check out the different games you and your colleagues can try out to get in touch with your inner Nancy Drew.

Depending on how many participants are present, you can play these games in separate teams or as a whole unit. You will not be restricted to an eight-player game, especially with how these are structured.

Unique Storylines and Challenges

All the scenarios from Escapely’s escape rooms have unique storylines. You will need to escape devious basements, solve murders, and defeat evil sorcerers to win the games!

Use your skills and work as a team to solve puzzles and codes to beat the other teams.

Choose your next adventure and gain unforgettable experiences from Escapely’s escape rooms.

Key Takeaways on What Virtual Escape Rooms Are

Escape rooms, both virtual and in-person, are great for teamwork and building camaraderie. They encourage players to work together, enhancing their collaborative skills.

Solving puzzles in an escape room makes players feel like geniuses. This satisfaction is a crucial part of why people enjoy these experiences.

It’s January 2020. Your mask-less self is casually dropping by bars, attending concerts, willy-nilly hanging out with friends in indoor spaces without a care in the world. You’ve never heard of Zoom.

Fast forward to 2022. You work on Zoom, have drinks with your friends on Zoom, see the fam on Zoom. You’ve even attended a Zoom wedding. While you may put on a professional shirt from time to time, you haven’t changed out of pajama bottoms since March almost two years ago.

When your entire social life takes place on a Zoom call, you might be looking for a way to bring a bit more excitement to the table. Fortunately, there are tons of games you can play that make Zoom call more interactive and fun! Here are my suggestions for the eight best games to play on Zoom with your friends and family.

1. Charades

Clapperboard used for Charades
Charades is not a game that would normally be used in the same sentence as social distancing. But I have played it successfully over Zoom and it makes an awesome virtual game night!

To play charades, divide into two teams and come up with some words, phrases, movies, etc. to act out. You can either make up your own or use an online generator. To play charades, prop your device on a table and clear a space. When it’s your turn, act out your clue silently while the other players on your team try to guess the answer. Choose any time limit you like, as long as it’s the same for both teams. To make sure everyone can see the player who is acting, the host needs to click on that player in Zoom and click “Spotlight Video.” That ensures the person acting will always be the large video even when other people shout out answers. Score one point each time your team guesses the right answer, and the team with the most points wins!

If you’re looking to up the ante for adults, charades happens to be one of the best drinking games. A team has to drink when they don’t guess the answer in time – and I’ll tell you from experience, the acting and guessing only gets funnier the longer you play.


2. Pictionary

Full disclosure: A whiteboard on an easel is a permanent fixture in my living room, because you never know when a game of Pictionary will break out. Lucky for me, there are some special features on Zoom (my new living room…literally) that make Pictionary a super fun virtual game to play. First, the host needs to activate Zoom’s whiteboard feature. Click “Share Screen” at the bottom, select whiteboard in the window that opens, and then click to share the screen in the bottom right. All players now share a blank canvas that everyone can see and draw on!

Each player should access the drawing palette by clicking “View Options” at the top of the screen. Then select annotate from the dropdown menu to pull up a toolbar. You can change the color and size of your brush and easily start drawing by clicking on the screen with the mouse or touchpad. If you are playing from a touch screen, you can draw with your finger! Take turns drawing clues while the other players on your team try to guess the answer. To clear the screen, just click the trash can icon. Score one point each time your team guesses the right answer, and the team with the most points wins.


3. Board Games

Board game pieces in a heap
The easiest virtual games to play on Zoom are the ones you already have! (And I have a lot.) Board games are really easy and fun to play over Zoom, as long as you don’t have to share a board with the other players. If the game does require a community board – like checkers, chess, Sorry, or Monopoly – it’s going to be hard to reach through the computer screen to move your pieces around. But if there’s no game board, you can each set up your own copy and play on Zoom. For two-player games, both players need a copy and should simply set up their own game as they normally would – just leave the other half of the game in the box! Board games that are perfect for this are Battleship, Scattergories, and Guess Who.

For larger groups, you can turn your Zoom call into a game night with a group party game. Divide the group into two teams and only two players need a copy – just make sure those two players are on different teams. Outburst is a great Zoom game to play like this. Teams take turns trying to guess all ten items in a category and you can easily get everyone on video calling out answers and participating. The two players with the game act as the scorekeepers while the other team shouts out guesses.

If you are REALLY a board game junky, you can even play strategy games over Zoom. (If you’re not a strategy game fanatic, skip right over to the next section. This is about to get intense.) All players set up the full game at home, including game boards for the ghost players. For example, if you are playing with four players, each player sets up a full game for all four players. When anyone takes a turn, everyone (not just the player taking the turn) mimics those moves on their respective game boards. This only works for games that don’t have privately and randomly distributed cards or tokens. For example, in Puerto Rico, all players can see all of the cards and goods and can make moves for the other players. But a game like Settlers of Catan cannot be played over Zoom because all players need to purchase development cards from the same stack – and you can’t pass cards through Zoom! To play with your friend this way is a bit more tedious, but if you are really in strategy game withdrawal, it absolutely works!

Note: If you attempt playing Castles of Burgundy this way, you’re not alone. I’m starting a support group and you should get in touch with me immediately.


4. Karaoke

Guy singing karaoke in a comedic manner
This picture pretty much sums up how I feel when I karaoke. I can’t sing, but let’s just say I do not let that hold me back. If you know what I’m talking about, allow me to introduce you to karaoke: the digital edition. Believe it or not, there are a seemingly unlimited number of YouTube karaoke videos. Just type in your favorite song followed by karaoke and you will find a video with the backing tracks and lyrics. The only thing missing is a crowd. Thank god for Zoom! Just screen share the YouTube karaoke video with your guests (victims) and sing your heart out. You can find pretty much any song you like, but I highly recommend this one.


5. Online Escape Rooms

Couple playing online escape room with laptop
This will come as a surprise since I create online escape rooms for a living, but escape rooms are my favorite pastime. I basically live and die for them, so as you can imagine I’m pretty jazzed that they’re now available all over the web. And you don’t have to get locked up – you just get to solve the puzzles! These escape rooms can be played with a big group of family and friends (or coworkers) divided into smaller teams that race against each other. But if that doesn’t appeal to you, there are a lot of virtual escape rooms out there. Be sure to read all about the different types of online escape rooms and how they work! If you are looking for a fun way to connect with your friends online, my suggestion is to run, not walk, to your computer and find a virtual escape room to do together.


6. Trivia Games

It’s likely that you have been to bar trivia at some point in your life, so you probably know how fun it is to play trivia games with a group of friends! Because you don’t need any playing pieces, it’s almost made for Zoom. It’s a great game to play with friends and family or coworkers! If someone has a copy of Trivial Pursuit, you can just read the cards right out of the box and answer them together. If not, try this random trivia generator.


7. Cards Against Humanity

There are thousands of simple games that use playing cards, but most card games don’t work via Zoom because (unless I’m really missing something) you can’t deal cards through a computer screen. One exception to this is Cards Against Humanity. In this game, you complete fill-in-the-blank statements with other words that make hilarious combinations. Unlike many word games, you fill in the blanks by using words from other cards. Each player needs to have the game at home, and all players can draw their own hand of cards from their own box. It doesn’t really matter if multiple people accidentally end up with the same card – you will probably all use it differently and this game has so many cards, it’s pretty unlikely.


8. Happy Hours With Zoom Games

Even if you aren’t meeting your friends for happy hour in person, many people are holding weekly “zappy hours” – a combination between Zoom and happy. It’s actually pretty fun, and since you don’t typically have props with you at the bar, it turns out that most drinking games become virtual games over Zoom with no changes at all! Two of my favorite happy hour games are Never Have I Ever and Think While You Drink.

To play Never Have I Ever, take turns saying things that you have never done. If anyone in the group has done those things, they have to drink. To play Think While You Drink, start out by saying the name of a celebrity. The next person has to say the name of a celebrity whose first name starts with the first letter of the previous celebrity’s last name. So if I say Emma Stone, the next person can say Sofia Vergara. A celebrity whose first and last letters start with the same letter (like Susan Sarandon) reverses the direction so the last person to say a name is up again. As the name implies, when it’s your turn, you have to think while you drink, or drink until you have come up with a name.

All of these Zoom party ideas are great ways to play games while you chat with your friends, and you can even make use of the Zoom backgrounds to have a little fun! Tell me your favorite games to play on Zoom in the comments!

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