Fun Games to Keep Kids (of all ages) Entertained at Home

We know it’s a tough time for everyone at the moment, and it’s hard to keep everyone entertained whilst at home. Here are some ideas to help keep you busy and having fun over the next few weeks!

Science Experiments

With the school’s closed, getting involved with some science experiments can be a great way of keeping kids engaged. Even if you don’t have children to look after, these are a lot of fun to try!

Mentos and Diet Coke

Mentos and Coke illustration. A fun at home activity

Everyone knows this home science classic! It’s great fun and fantastic way of teaching kids about reactions. For extra points, you can even build a set of a volcano around a bottle of coke in the middle!

Make Your Own Slime

Using nothing more than PVA glue, bicarbonate of soda, food colouring and contact lens solution you can make some really fun slime to play with. This is another fantastic way of teaching kids about reactions, as they can observe how adding the contact lens solution can completely change the texture of the glue. We’ll send you over to national treasures Holly and Phil who’ll show you how this one is done. 

https://www.itv.com/thismorning/home-garden/how-to-make-your-own-slime

Create a Water Cycle

Be careful with this one, it will need some adult supervision as it requires hot water and a match. But it’s a really cool way of showing the water cycle, how clouds form and how rainfalls. Check this video out below on how to do it!

Card Games

Card games are a great way of staying entertained at home. Everyone has a deck of cards and there’s a near endless list of different games you can play. Whether there’s 2 or 6 of you at home a deck of cards can keep you entertained for hours.

Now everyone knows the classic games like “Go Fish!” and cheat, so here’s a couple of unusual games that you might not have heard of before to keep you entertained:

Playing Cards

Spit

Spit is a fun and fast-paced game for two people. It’s an exciting mix of Solitaire, Snap and Speed and definitely gets the heart racing. We would try and explain the rules, but we feel the folks from Bicycle (who actually make playing cards) will do a much better job! You can check that out here:

Golf

Golf is a card game that’s more luck than skill but you need to make quick decisions and pay attention to what your opponent is trying to do. Each person gets dealt 6 cards which they place face down in two rows in front of them. At the start of their go, they can turn over two of the cards and are given the option of swapping one of their cards with either the upturned one in the middle or one you can’t see from the deck in the middle.

The goal is to have your cards add up to a smaller total than your opponent. Aces score 1 and normal cards score their number, Jack and Queen score 10 points, Kings 0 and Jokers score -2 points. If any of your columns have 2 of the same card then the numbers cancel each other out and you score 0. If you’re a little lost, here’s a video to explain.

Board Games

Pandemic

Pandemic board game

Appropriate for these times, we enjoy Pandemic because everyone works together as a team! This means that you win and lose together, so there should be fewer family arguments over the outcome. There’s quite a bit of set-up involved, but once you get going Pandemic is easy to play and great fun. The story is that there’s been a global outbreak of a disease and you need to work together to eradicate the infection and develop a cure. You travel all over the world creating disease centres and trying to fight back the virus. It’s challenging and requires you to think a few steps ahead to win!

EXIT! The Game

These are Escape Rooms you can play in the home! If you’ve still got that escape room itch, then these are a great way of experiencing the same thrill and intensity, whilst staying safe at home. They have a variety of stories and whilst sadly, we haven’t been able to play them all, we’re sure they all live up to the same high standard. One of the most intriguing tales we’re yet to try is their take on Murder on the Orient Express. “Dead Man on the Orient Express” looks to include everything great about escape rooms. You have to race against the clock to piece together the clues and solve the murder. It’s certainly once that we’ll be picking up during lockdown.

EXIT the game, escape room board games

Journal 29

These fiendishly difficult books only require a pencil and a smartphone. Work your way through some very cryptic puzzles that utilise the book and often need you to go back to solve the puzzle you’re working on. There’s also a second book in the series called revelations, which is even trickier and has had us pulling our hair out! Both books are highly engaging and you can easily while away the hours playing them.You can pick them up here.

Easter Egg Hunt/Scavenger hunt

With Easter just around the corner, you could make an easter egg hunt! Hide the eggs around your house and leave little notes guiding your children to the eggs. You could also combine this with the activity below and make an easter egg escape room, where the kids have to solve the challenges, find keys etc. before they find the easter eggs.

If you’re lucky enough to have a garden make sure you make full use of the spaces available to you, but try not to leave your chocolate in the sun (something we’ve sadly learnt from experience).

Make your Own Escape Room

This isn’t as hard as it seems and can be great fun! Making an escape room is a great way to get creative and you can even throw in some school topics to keep it educational. 

The beauty of creating an escape room at home is that you can use what’s around you. You can buy some padlocks and use those, but you don’t have to! You could change the password to one of the computers, you could be the guardian of a door and require the right password to let people in. If you’ve got an old store cupboard you can even lock that with a puzzle inside and hide the key. There are loads of opportunities around the house to lock things up and hide away puzzles!

Some fun puzzle ideas include: 

Let us know the stories and themes you come up with for your escape rooms!

Our friends at Pirate Escape have also made some great escape rooms you can play at home too. You can check those out on their website.

Create a Secret Code

Did you ever pass notes across the classroom at school? What about if you had your own language or code that no one else could decipher? A fun thing to keep the kids occupied is coming up with a secret language or code.

Parlour Games

Again there are some classics here that everyone has already played like Charades, but here’s a couple of different ones that maybe not everyone will have done in the past.

6 Degrees of Kevin Bacon

This is a fun game for all you movie buffs out there. Based on an interview where Kevin Bacon said that he’d either worked with everyone in Hollywood or worked with someone they’d worked with. The goal is to take an actor or actress and using as few films as possible, connect them with Kevin Bacon. You can check out an example on our Facebook page here, the winner is the person who can connect the stars using the fewest films.

7's

7’s is simple, you go around in a circle counting up the numbers (1,2,3) – the only catch is you can’t say any number that has a 7 in or is a multiple of 7. E.g. 7, 17, 35. Where it gets tricky is you can say anything in the number’s place, which leads to some pranks. Another catch is if there are back to back 7’s e.g. 56 then 57, the order reverses. So make sure you stay on your toes particularly in the 70s.

We hope you’re all staying safe and hopefully we’ve given you some inspiration for some fun activities around the house. Let us know if you give any of these activities a try! Best wishes to you all and we look forward to seeing you on the other side of this.

The Story Behind "Where's Wally?"

One of everyone’s first and favourite puzzles when they were a child, were the iconic Where’s Wally books. For whatever reason, we could all be occupied for hours trying to find the elusive boy in a red and white striped jumper. But why do we find it so engrossing? And how did Martin Handford, the creator, come up with the idea?

In case there’s anybody out there who doesn’t know what Where’s Wally is (we hope the rock you’ve been living under is lovely), it’s a series of children books showing a detailed drawing of a crowd. The goal is to find the bespectacled Wally, who wears a striped red and white jumper and is hidden in plain sight somewhere on the page. The game is surprisingly difficult and is a great way of keeping children quiet for a couple of hours!

Martin Handford is the illustrator behind the series. He began drawing crowds of people from the age of 5, inspired by the toy soldiers he played with. He always enjoyed drawing when he was younger. Whilst other children would go outside to play he would prefer to stay inside, use his imagination and draw (Candlewick Press). He worked for 3 years in an insurance office to pay for a college art degree from the University of creative arts.  After finishing his degree he worked as an illustrator and specialised in crowd scenes.

Album Cover

Handford’s first major work was the album cover for The Vapors album “Magnets” (seen below). The album’s lyrics explore the assassinations of the Kennedys and Handford took this as inspiration for his design. He created a scene where a crowd of people responding to an assassination. The core group forming the shape of an eye. Hidden in the crowd is the assassin. Can you spot them?

The album cover from the Vapors album Magents. This is the origins of Where's Wally

"That's who he is - an afterthought"

This album cover is clearly the beginnings of the Where’s Wally concept!

5 years later, Handford came up with the distinctive figure of Wally to provide his crowd scenes with context and a focal point. He says “that’s who he [Wally] is – an afterthought” (Candlewick Press). The character was drawn in after the main crowd scenes and wasn’t originally the main reason for the drawings.

“As it turns out, the fans were more interested in the character than in the crowd scenes.” You can say that again! Wally’s peculiar features and characteristics are known globally, with versions of Where’s Wally available in over 37 different  languages. The name of the lead character changes depending on the country. For example in North America, he is known as Waldo and in Germany, he’s called Walter.

Handford describes Wally as a global traveller and likes to imagine that he’s not the smartest person, which is how he ends up in so many hapless scenarios. Each drawing takes the creator roughly 8 weeks to complete and he says that there’s no method behind where he puts Wally. “As I work through the picture, I add Wally when I come to what I feel is a good place to hide him” (Scholastic).

That hasn’t stopped people trying to work out if the placement is truly random! Ben Blatt of Slate magazine conducted his own mathematical research into where Wally is. Under the assumption that true randomness is almost impossible to achieve, he attempted to find the best method of tracking him down. You can check out his findings in this article.

Showing where Wally and the different characters are

Wimmelbuchs

But why do we find it so entertaining? Well, the idea isn’t new, the Wally style images are known as Wimmelbilderbuch. It’s a German word (how did you guess!) that literally means hidden object book. These types of books have been very popular with German and Dutch children for hundreds of years. An example of earlier books would be Ali Mitgutsch’s “Mein Wimmelbuch” series. These don’t have the puzzle aspect of Where’s Wally, but depict similar scenes of large crowds, with plenty of things going on in the background. The idea is that you come up with your own story of what’s happening based on what you see. 

1998 paper by Judith Graham confirms this, stating that through the intense searching readers are encouraged to create stories about those in the pictures. This makes the books challenging, rewarding and engrossing. Caroline Horn of the Bookseller says “The books are wonderful because they’re very quirky, very colourful, and you can get hooked”.

Another aspect that makes Wimmel books so engaging is that there’s no barrier to language. This means that young children can try to understand the story. The lack of language barrier is also what’s led Where’s Wally to be popular in so many countries.

Global Appeal

The global popularity of Where’s Wally is truly astonishing. The books have sold more than 73 million copies (The Guardian) worldwide. Wally is also one of the most popular Halloween costumes around. That may partly be that it’s so easy to grab a striped jumper and some glasses. In fact, in 2017, no less than 4,626 people were able to get hold of a Where’s Wally outfit. They gathered in Nagasaki to break the world record for the largest gathering of people dressed as Wally (Guinness World Records).

What started as a means of providing context to Martin Handford’s illustrations has grown into one of the most recognisable characters in the world. Handford’s fun picture puzzles have engrossed children and adults alike for years. If you haven’t tried your hand at Where’s Wally before, or if you’ve been hit with some real nostalgia make sure you check out your nearest charity shop. You can also buy copies on Amazon. We’ll have some in our front room for the next month, so whilst you’re waiting for your escape rooms you can try your hand at finding Wally yourself! We’d also recommend taking a look at some of the other Wimmelbook’s around, particularly Ali Mitgutshch’s and Thé Tjong-Khing’s “The Birthday Cake Mystery”.

The Best Date Nights in Newcastle!

With Valentine’s day just around the corner here’s a list of our favourite date nights in Newcastle. We’ve got a bit of everything from crazy golf to escape rooms!

Ghetto Golf 

Decoration at Ghetto Golf in Newcastle

A recent addition to Newcastle’s Hoult’s Yard, Ghetto Golf is a unique venue not to be missed! We all love crazy golf, but Ghetto Golf has taken it to the next level. You enter into an ultraviolet paradise, with bright colours and some very “unique” decoration. There should be no awkward silences on a date here as there’s plenty to talk about. They have a full range of cocktails and food, available from the wonderfully named Apocolypse Cow restaurant.

If your up for a laugh and enjoy crazy golf, then Ghetto Golf is the place for you!

Check it out here: https://www.ghettogolf.co.uk/newcastle/ 

Lane 7

The bowling at Lane 7 Newcastle

Bowling for grown-ups! If you love bowling but families and screaming children are encroaching on your date night vibe, then visit Lane 7! They have a full cocktail bar, bowling, beer pong, pool and even karaoke. The time flies by once you’re there – so what are you waiting for?

Be bowled over: https://lane7.co.uk/newcastle/

Everyman!

Valentines Day at Everyman Newcastle

Everyman truly is a unique venue. Sit back and enjoy the latest films in comfort and style! A beautifully decorated venue, which takes the usual cinema experience and adds comfy sofa style seating, a cocktail bar and food served at your seats! Everyman set out to bring a quality night at the pictures to Newcastle, and we certainly think they’ve done that.

Cinema in style: https://www.everymancinema.com/newcastle/

The Stand

Newcastle’s home of stand-up comedy has been a date night favourite for years! There’s plenty of different shows available throughout the week, with a mixture of new blood and seasoned vets. There may be some audience participation, so don’t be shy! The Wednesday night show, Red Raw, is a comedy open mic night which shows performers who are just getting started and is only £3 a ticket.

On Valentine’s Day this year though will be the regular Friday show which is always worth checking out!

For a stand-up date: https://www.thestand.co.uk/newcastle/whats-on/

La Chocolatrice

La Chocolatrice Newcastle Valentine's Day Date Night

A brand new venue set just next door to our Westgate Road site, La Chocolatrice offers some hands-on chocolate making classes. Zoë will guide you through making truffles, flakes and decorating chocolate. You’ll get a little messy over the 2 hour class and end up with chocolate everywhere. Whether you’re just excited to eat the chocolate or want to learn about the best way of making it, La Chocolatrice is the place to come for an interactive date.

Start your chocolate love story.

EXIT Newcastle

If you’re after something unique, then our live escape games could be the way to go! You’ll find everything you need to know about your date in 60 minutes. We’re open till 11:00 every night and have a variety of different rooms and puzzles to sink your teeth into. Whether you’re into horror, fancy yourselves as Newcastle’s next heroes or want to be Bonnie and Clyde and rob a jewellery store we can give you a heart-pounding date night!

What have you got planned for Valentine’s Day this year? Have we missed a great date night off the list? Let us know!

The Best Places to Eat and Drink near EXIT

We often get asked “Where are the best places to grab a bite or a drink after an escape room?” Our answer is here! Here’s a list of our favourite spots nearby!

We’re very fortunate at Westgate Road to have 3 lovely pubs only a couple of minutes away. The Forth, The Town Wall and Gunner Tavern are all easily accessible via Pink Lane and are well worth a visit whether you’d like a dink or a proper meal. 

Gunner Tavern

Gunner Tavern Newcastle

Recently completed, the Tavern used to be Gotham nightclub but has undergone a complete makeover and is now a rustic pub. With bold greens, wood floors and some quirky design it’s a really ice pub to sit in. There’s even a massive bay window table with comfy seating all around for large group. Gunner Tavern sets it’s self apart from the other pubs on a list with a nice range of cocktails including some delicious Espresso Martini’s, using coffee from the nearby by Pink Lane coffee company.

The Town Wall

Part of the original fortifying wall around Newcastle (hence the name) the Town Wall is a lovely pub. The building is Grade 2 listed and has been mentioned in town records from before 1280, making it one of the oldest buildings in Newcastle. The fish finger sandwich is one of our favourite things on the menu and is a perfect bite after saving Newcastle in one of our escape rooms.

The Forth

Located on Pink Lane, the Forth is a 2 minute walk from EXIT. The Forth has good food and a wide variety of beers, but it’s best feature is the roof terrace upstairs. The terrace is a wonderful space and a great place to grab a drink. During the winter the fires inside keep you warm, and on a busy weekend there’s a fantastic atmosphere inside the pub. The Monday night quiz is great fun too, and could be the perfect accompaniment to an escape room!

COOP Chicken House

Food From Coop Chicken House In Newcastle

If you like chicken, then COOP chicken house is the place for you. They serve flame roasted chicken, with a variety delicious of sides and a huge range of hot sauces. It has a relaxed atmosphere, and is a great place to get a big table and share altogether. On a Sunday you can get involved with wing heaven – all you can eat wings for £10. As we’re big fans of challenges, we’re keen to see if you can beat the current record of 64.5 wings!

Zapatista

If you’re after something quick and tasty then look no further than Zapatista. Zaps has been a popular and ever present feature of our staff room, with their burrito’s long being a staff lunch favourite. Queue up, and get a burrito with your choice of rice, filling, beans, salsa and any extras all wrapped up in a warm tortilla wrap. If you don’t have long after your escape room, or even if you do, then we’d definitely recommend a trip around the corner to Zapatista. With locations on both Grainger Street and Ridley place there’s a Zapatista close to both our sites. 

Stack

If you’re with your family or friends and everyone wants to eat something different then look no further than Stack. A variety of restaurants all in the shipping container square. everyone can pick their favourite and sit around the same table. Whether you’re looking for a burger, vegan food or and Indian Stack has you covered. Only a 10 minute walk away from our site at 32 St. Mary’s Place it’s a fantastic option if you’ve just finished Fiorella’s Cave or the Heist.

What are some of your favourite spots to grab a bite around Newcastle? Are any of them close to our escape rooms?

The 8 Best Heist Movies

With the arrival of our new escape room The Heist approaching, we’ve been researching what guarantees success in a Heist. Don’t be too alarmed! We have no plans to take our findings to the streets (yet). Instead, we’ve dived into the cinema vaults to pick our 8 favourite Heist movies of all time.

1. Reservoir Dogs (1992)

An image taken from Reservoir Dogs

When we looked at films involving heists and major crime, Quentin Tarantino’s feature-length debut always seemed to top the list. Featuring an all-star cast and an unorthodox non-linear approach to storytelling Reservoir Dogs grips the viewer from the very start and doesn’t let go until long after the credits roll.

The film focuses on the aftermath of a diamond heist gone wrong. A fast response from the police causes a shootout and the crew scatters. The crew arrive one by one in the warehouse where most of the film is set. Paranoia sets in and tensions rise as the gang suspects a police officer is among them. Empire Magazine named Reservoir Dogs “the greatest independent film of all time”. It also has a huge cult following. In our opinion, this film is uncontested at number one.

2. Heat (1995)

A Poster for Heat starring Al Pacino and Robert De Niro

Michael Mann directs Robert De Niro and Al Pacino in this exhilarating movie about crime. De Niro plays professional thief Neil McCauley, and the film follows his crew through a series of thrilling armed robberies. After a heist on an armoured car goes wrong, the crew attracts the attention of Lieutenant Vincent Hanna (Al Pacino) of the LAPD’s Major Crimes Unit. 

The film becomes an enthralling game of cat and mouse as the two men attempt to outwit each other. The viewer is constantly choosing who they think will win this game, and whether good will triumph over evil. Major highlights from Heat include a great soundtrack and an enthralling car chase leading to an outstanding face off in a restaurant. 

3. Triple 9 (2016)

When looking for more modern examples of Heist movies it’s hard to ignore Triple 9. In this gritty portrayal of the life criminals sign up to, lines blur between right and wrong. Crooked members of the police work alongside thieves to rob a safety deposit box for a Russian mafia boss. This leads to another robbery. They hatch a plan to ensure the crew escape successfully. They will use a Triple 9 call to distract he police from the robbery. A Triple 9 call means an officer is down the police will flock to this location at the opposite side of the city to the actual crime. 

Things rarely go to plan and you will be left wondering about the loyalty of members of the crew as the story delves deeper. An interesting use of technology within the heist shows how both criminals and law enforcement are adapting in the 21st Century.

4. Inception (2010)

Box office superstar Leonardo Di Caprio stars in this unconventional science fiction film. Set within the architecture of the human mind, Inception delves deeper than any other film on this list. Whereas the majority of Heist films focus on the theft of diamonds or money, Inception is the story of two “extractors” who infiltrate the subconscious of their targets and steal secrets relating to business espionage. 

Di Caprio’s character embarks on a seemingly impossible task to infiltrate his target’s mind by creating a dream within a dream. Success on his mission will allow his criminal record to be wiped clean. Lines blur leaving the viewer constantly guessing if they are watching a dream segment or if the characters are awake. This makes for an immersive and thought-provoking experience and has led to a cult following of the film. Due to the complexity, many viewings may be necessary.

5. Hell or High Water (2016)

Hell or High Water Banner

This film isn’t as well known as some of the others that have made our list. Yet it’s ranked within the top ten movies of 2016.  It also gained critical acclaim after its premiere at the Cannes Film Festival, making it a serious contender within the Heist genre.

Faced with the possibility of losing their ranch, two brothers begin to rob banks within West Texas. Their intention? Launder the money and keep ownership of their home. As the film progresses it becomes clear there is a difference in the brother’s personalities. A series of wild risks lead to the inevitable interest of Texas Rangers. Tension is constantly built throughout and a statewide pursuit is underway. Excellent cinematography shines throughout Hell or High Water and treats viewers to an awe-inspiring conclusion. 

6. The Italian Job (1969)

Poster for the Heist movie the Italian Job

No list about Heist movies would be complete without a nod to The Italian Job. Starring Michael Caine, the Italian Job is a British classic and has even been named the 27th Best British film of all time. Viewers are in for an enthralling balance of action and comedy as this Cockney gang plans a daring heist in Italy. 

After involvement with the Italian Mafia, the gang plan to rob four million dollars worth of gold bullion from Turin. They use three iconic Mini Coopers to move the gold around the city and escape the Police. This leads to some amazing scenes, as the three little cars lead an intense chase through shopping centres and across roof-tops. The film ends on a teetering conclusion in the Swiss alps, leaving fans questioning the fate of the gang. More than fifty years after its release it’s still a must-watch!

7. Ocean's Eleven (2001)

This 2001 remake brings together an all-star cast for funny moments and an extremely clever robbery.

Ocean’s Eleven revolves around a preposterous plan: To rob the three biggest casinos in Las Vegas in one night. George Clooney assembles a crack team of ten criminals, each with unique and impressive skill-sets. Expect to see slick feats of sleight of hand and a journey of ups and downs which ultimately results in an effortless and enjoyable watching. A few sequels have been made for those who want more of the same, and they continue to feel fresh and worthy watches. 

8. Dog Day Afternoon (1975)

Screenshot from Dog Day Afternoon

Inspired by a bank robbery of the same decade, Dog Day Afternoon (DDA) takes a different approach to the Heist genre. Whilst most films on this list show crews committing robberies with surgical precision and take a hardened attitude towards its victims, DDA shows the opposite. Viewers are constantly reminded of the pressures of this kind of crime.  

As the film shows how a first-time offender and a group of empathetic individuals respond psychologically to the crimes they are committing. This is a refreshing change within the genre that resonates with those that watch. The National Film Registry film has since selected DDA for preservation.

So there you have it, our picks for our favourite Heist movies of all time! What are your favourites? Did we miss any from our list?

If you dream of completing a Heist of your own, check out our newest escape room the Heist here.

Team Building: Why You Should Choose an Escape Room

This week we thought we’d take a look at team-building. Although plenty of people roll their eyes at the idea, we believe team-building is a crucial part of developing a successful team. Above all, we believe escape games are one of the best team building activities around!

A team building event enjoying themselves with NERF guns in our Volatile Laboratories Escape Game.

What is an Escape Game?

An escape game is a live experience that usually lasts 60 minutes. A team is locked into a room and given a variety of clues, riddles, puzzles and challenges to solve and (hopefully) escape the room. There’s usually a big goal along the way, whether it be defusing a bomb or retrieving an antidote for a deadly poison! Their history can be traced to some early puzzle-based computer games such as Myst, and Crimson Room which use a similar concept.

Why is an Escape Room ideal for team building?

“You can discover more about someone in an hour of play than a lifetime of conversation” Plato.

Escape games are a fantastic way of bringing your team together. They combine all the key elements of a successful team building event. Whether it be getting everyone out of the office for an hour or pushing your team to solve new challenges. In a live escape room, you’ll be able to see exactly how the team interact with each other. Similarly, you’ll see what your team’s skills are and where they shine. Here are just some of the ways escape games help get the most out of your team:

Goal Setting

In an escape game, your team has a clear goal. Setting clear goals is an excellent way to get the most out of your team. For example, you have 1 hour to solve the puzzles and escape. At the same time, you might have to look through the clues and find the identity of a murderer. As a result, all of your team are on the same page and working towards a common outcome. This can be extremely powerful! Hopefully, by seeing the focus this can give a group, your team will take this back to your office and work on clear goal-setting.

Completely Different!

“The most successful, memorable team-building events are ones that don’t feel like a day in the office”. Unless you’re a bomb squad or global adventurer escape games are something completely different to a day in the office. We take groups well out of their comfort zone and allow them to undertake a task that’s nothing like their day-to-day. By doing this, your colleagues become more engaged as you switch up their daily routines. Consequently, this helps you break down barriers in the group and bring your team together.

Improve Communication

To make it out of an escape room (particularly in good time) your team will need to communicate. Whether it’s 2 people working closely on an individual puzzle or letting the whole team know that you’ve found a clue – keeping in contact with your team is crucial. According to the project management institute, project managers spend 90% of their time in some form of communication. Therefore, it’s critically important that these skills are developed and worked upon. Escape rooms help encourage effective communication whilst keeping your team engaged and enjoying themselves! Another benefit to developing strong communication skills is that companies who communicate effectively are also 4.5 x’s more likely to keep hold of their best employees.

Assign Roles!

An important part of developing a strong team is making sure everyone knows their role. This allows a team to leverage their specialisations and abilities and work efficiently. Similarly, one of the things that separates the best groups through our games is they assign clear team roles. These teams know who’s good at finding things, who’s good at piecing together simpler puzzles and who has a mind for the abstract. As a result, they play to their strengths and fly through the games. By taking this lesson back to the office, you’ll see an increase in efficiency and performance of your team!

Test your team under pressure!

With only one hour on the clock and potentially the whole of Newcastle to save, our escape games certainly pile on the pressure. This intensity can help you see what your team are truly made of! If things go down to the wire and you’re still solving with seconds to spare, you’ll see who keeps a cool head and who begins to panic! By finding this out in an escape game, and not when it matters, you can understand and develop your team without having an impact on your business.

Solve problems

Problem-solving is a skill that is required at all levels of a business or team. Escape rooms require a team to solve a variety of problems put forward to them by the game. By solving problems in this collaborative manner, teams will be able to sharpen their skills and maybe start to look at things differently. Employees generally enjoy problem-solving activities and are engaged by them. Furthermore, research has shown that sink your teeth into a problem can help create ownership of tasks.

Competition

Escape game team building icon

If you like a bit of competition in the office we can set two teams up head to head and see who can escape first! This can add a bit more excitement to the day. Further, it can show you who shines under pressure and who’ll do anything to win. We even have scorecards which take you through what you did well and what you might need to work on. On top of this, competitive activities help encourage a results based outlook! So our escape game can really help get your team working for the same result.

It’s Fun!

Finally, the most important part of team building is making sure it’s fun! Happy employees are 31% more productive (HBR). Therefore, if you want to get the most out of your team it’s important to put a smile on their faces. We hope that by bringing your team together in a fun and engaging environment, you can help boost your team’s output and reach your company’s goals. One of the biggest comments we get about our rooms is how much fun they are and teams are often surprised about how much they enjoy the game.

Other Options

If you’re not convinced, that’s OK. Here are 3 activities that you can do in your office to help bond your team, and improve their skills:

1) Board Game Night

One of our favourite ways to bring our team together is through board game nights! The concept’s simple. Gather your team around, get some drinks in and play a board game or two. Which game? There are loads of different options here! A game like Pandemic is fantastic because you all have to work together! Hopefully, there’ll be fewer arguments if everyone’s on the same team! Something a bit more obscure could be Secret Hitler, a game which is based on lies and teamwork and will keep your team on its toes.

2) The Egg Drop Challenge

This is a quick activity that’s great fun and gets your team thinking and problem-solving. Give each team an egg, boiled or raw (if you’re looking for a real challenge), and a variety of items. They can only use the given items to protect their egg. Why do they need protecting? Well you’re going to drop them from a set height, and the winner is the team who’s egg stays intact! Some common materials here are toilet roll tubes, sponges and straws. A cool twist is that teams can also swap items with another group, adding negotiations to the proceedings.

3) Build your own escape room

Using a few padlocks and some handwritten clues  you can easily make a fun and engaging escape game yourself! This option also allows you to make the answers things that relate to your business, so you can help your team learn key things or even with onboarding.

There are also some great venues for team building events around Newcastle and we’d certainly recommend taking a look at these:

4) Lane 7

Lane 7 has it all. You can bowl, play ping pong, mini-golf or even do karaoke! All with a bar, food and no kids after 7:00! If you want your team to have fun and let your hair down, then Lane 7 is one of the best places to be in Newcastle.

5) La Chocolatrice

La Chocolatrice is a brand new venue in Newcastle. It’s a chocolate making experience that lasts 2 hours for a team of up to 10 of you. It’s a great way of breaking the ice and having some relaxed time out of the office. On top of this, you’ll work on your attention detail and taking instructions from your wonderful teacher Zoe!

6) Go Karting!

Go Karting is a team-building classic! Slip into a racing suit, strap into a go-kart and race around to see who’s the fastest. It’s a great way of competing within your group and always has some funny moments. Team-Sport in Newcastle is a fantastic venue. They offer a variety of different race types, which means you can get the most from the experience, and tailor the day to suit your needs.

If you’re interested in organising a team-building event with us then you can get in touch with our team by email or over the phone. Even if you just have a couple of questions we’ll be happy to help. You can also see a little more info about our team-building days here!

Whether you do decide to hold your corporate day with us or elsewhere, we hope you have a great time and that you see an improvement in your team.

Newcastle’s Spookiest Halloween Nights (2019)

Newcastle’s a great place to be around Halloween, and this year there’s plenty of creative and fun things to do! Here our some of our favourite (and scariest) Halloween events for 2019.

Psycho Path

This year Psycho Path returns with an event they’re calling Fear Ground! It’s bigger than ever, with 4 different horror attractions spread across 700 acres of Farmland at Lintz Hall farm in Durham. You can book in for any day between the 11th and 31st of October for the horror experience, and we would recommend warm clothes as some of the events take place outdoors!

There’s also a less intense, child-friendly evening on the 19th for anyone looking for more of a family-friendly event!

Book in and check what’s in store:

https://www.psycho-path.co.uk/
https://www.facebook.com/PsychoPathHorror/

Terror in the Trees

Beamish Hall is set to host another frightful experience. Terror in the trees is an immersive horror event, where you proceed through an abandoned circus which is home to a group of clowns hell-bent on spreading mass hysteria. It certainly sounds terrifying! Though anyone with a huge fear of clowns is probably best looking at one of the other events on this list! 

https://www.beamish-hall.co.uk/terror-in-the-trees/

Tyneside Cinema (Halloween All-Nighter)

On the 26th October, Tyneside Cinema is opening all four screens for an evening of horror movies. They’re showing some classic films beyond midnight with some starting as late (or as early) as 04:50 am. If you enjoy your horror movies and would like to experience some of the classics such as Carrie, or 28 Days Later on the big screen, then keep your diary free on the 26th and book in!

Stack Halloween Sing-Along

The immensely popular Kroud Karaoke at Stack is turning up the volume for Halloween. On the 26th October, dress up and turn up to the group karaoke event! They’ll be playing all your Halloween favourites, so if you’re looking for a “Thriller” of an evening prepare your voice and belt out your favourite tunes.

https://www.facebook.com/events/stack-newcastle/kroud-karaoke-halloween-special-stack-newcastle/482330772622396/

Behind The Attic

In this series we’ll take a look into some of the story behind the Attic escape game, and see if you can spot any Easter Eggs in the article…

ANONYMOUS LETTER FOUND BY POLICE TAKES RESPONSIBILITY FOR NEWCASTLE KILLINGS

New evidence found by police has led them to issue a statement calling for extreme caution to be taken by all residents of Newcastle upon Tyne. It has long since been suspected that there was a link between the 13 suspicious disappearances and abductions since 2015 from the city centre area. A letter containing details of the crimes has led police to confirm the fate of the 13 missing persons, and that their killer is still at large. An excerpt from this letter can be seen later on in the article, content may be seen as distressing and not for the faint of heart. 

The discovery of this evidence came after the most recent of these disappearances. Alan Bic (33), a real estate agent based in NE1 left work on the evening of 13/07/2019 never to be seen again. Mr Bic’s vehicle was found abandoned in the multi story he used everyday without issue. Scattered around the car were a few of his personal items and a clear indication that a struggle had taken place. Recovered amongst these items was a letter. Police have advised that there has been an escalation in violence over the last few attacks leading criminal psychologists to theorise that the culprit is taking more risks and becoming increasingly frustrated. Language used suggests the killer may have a background in literature and shows clear delusions of grandeur. Evidence suggests that these crimes are premeditated and are advising all residents to exercise extreme caution and keep an eye out for any suspicious behaviour. 

The threat appears to be the worst in the city centre as all victims have been abducted from NE1 postcodes. Using a geographical approach it is believed that the killer has his base of operations hidden somewhere within the city. Below is the closing paragraph of the killers letter, not included is details of killings that we believe are unfit for publication. Police believe there is a message hidden within.

“Since 67’  I have stood awestruck observing the sheer contempt the residents have for the dangers that maybe around any corner. 

I have studied and written about societies all over the world, opening the gate to my hatred  and have found myself down a road becoming increasingly intolerant of the human race. 

I never belonged in this world, wolves cannot hide amongst sheep. It is for this reason I have accepted my true purpose. It will all become clear by the end, I will show no hesitation or restraint in my actions. 

Only one thing is clear, every single piece of filth I have made exit from Newcastle had been unaware of the fate that awaited them. Even as you are reading this now my message will be lost on you. 

If I am not stopped the fate of this city is sealed, only through your own ability will you prove my equal and be able to avoid what awaits. I challenge anyone to stand face to face with me. We will meet soon, one way or another…

W.S.”

Police are urging anyone with any information to come forth and contact them on 0191 261 6330. The residents of Newcastle upon Tyne depend on it.

6 Top Tips for Beating an Escape Room​

L - Look Around!

Maintain a structure throughout your search to make sure that you leave no stone unturned! By doing this you are setting yourself up in the best possible way. 

O - Over Complication is Your Enemy

When it comes to escape games, you will tend to find everyone brings different things to the team. Following this, there are things to learn from the kids in the group. 

Kids shine on the simpler puzzles, they see obvious patterns, well, obviously. Adults on the other hand like to make easy things complex and see patterns where they don’t exist – for example, if a hint tells you to check the clock – the answer’s probably the time on the clock and not the registration number of the manufacturer.

C - Communication is Key (get it?...escape games....key?)

Sometimes the simplest tips are the most effective. Make sure everyone is in the loop at all times. You don’t want to be frustrated and stuck on a puzzle for five minutes only to find out that Dave solved it ages ago but didn’t tell anyone. Save time and save friendships by being verbal at every step of the way!

K - Keep Track of Time

An hour can seem like a long time, but when the clock is ticking down it’s incredibly easy to forget how long you have been in the room. As you rush around, working your way through the games and challenges remember to keep track of where you are time-wise. 

Try to bear in mind looks can be deceiving, what may look like a single room may have a hidden door where you least expect it. With this in mind remember that a relaxed pace may all turn into a blind panic when you realise a secret room exits with only a few minutes left on the clock. 

E - Everything Has a Purpose

A good tip to remember is that everything has been placed inside of the room for a reason. Props and clues are carefully selected to fit in with the theme of the game. If something seems to be just for decoration, remember it may have a hidden secret! 

Sometimes you may find an answer but completely overlook it just because you did not yet know the question. This does work both ways! Red herrings are placed throughout to trip you up but keep all potential clues together in case they are needed later. It will become clear what is useful as more puzzles are discovered!

D - Divide and Conquer

As the games you play get more difficult, you may find the order of the puzzles becomes less straightforward. This doesn’t have to be daunting. If one puzzle is being completed by a couple of members of the team, look around and see if any other path is open to you.  

If a large team all gathers around one puzzle it may cause more problems than it is worth! The best tip for this is to split into smaller groups and work on different things. When one group gets stuck swap over! Never underestimate the value of a pair of fresh eyes!