What are the age limits of room escape games?
There is no easy answer to this question for multiple reasons. For starters it’s difficult to nail down any common age limit, since the number of room escape companies is so great and the style of their games so varied. In addition to this even within one company the types of games can vary greatly, Mysteeri for example has 16 different games across Finland. One can generally be confident that one room escape company will design their games according to a certain ruleset and framework, but small differences can occur due to different teams working on different rooms, or maybe just the moon being in the wrong phase at the time of the planning process. So there’s on simple general, all-encompassing pattern, but there are a few quidelines we here at Mysteeri abide by.
1) Starting point for our games is: design for adults
We got into the escape room business, because we wanted to create entertainment products for adults where alcohol or competing weren’t factors. For this reason the age limit to our games is 16 years, meaning those above 16 years can play our games without adult supervision. We assume our players to have adult tastes where it comes to stories and also act like adults whilst playing, which is why for example five 13 year olds playing being supervised only by our game hosts is not possible.
2) Excitement and intensity are major elements in our stories, not horror
With adult supervision our recomended minimum age is 12 years old. We’ve often witnessed parents being pleasantly surprised by how well their family played together, or how the offspring turned out to be smarter than the parents. There have also been wonderous exceptions to this age limit, for the courage, persona and stage of development of an individual can make the same game a completely different experience for one child than another. I’ve personally seen some extremely cool 10-year old, who’ve completeled some rooms I myself deemed exciting with the calmness of a zen-master. On the other hand I’ve seen 12 year olds who’ve felt merely being locked inside a room as highly disturbing. In all honesty it has to be mentioned that this particular fear can be found in all age groups, not just amongst the youth.
Story and content of the game
As previously mentioned, our games vary greatly in their story elements, from mental health issues to submarines, from murders to pubs. Since at Mysteeri we build our rooms to have not just a theme, but also a story, there’s a good chance that a game that might at first glance sound quite rough might not turn to be that as the story unfolds. Reasons for any agelimit are generally conveyed via content symbols, so I’ll briefly go through their meaning in our games.
- Sexual content = Sex may be referenced in a vailed way in text or speech, but nothing visual is present (no images, videos etc)
- Violent content = Although we are not into gore, a few of our games do include a drop or two of blood and latex bodyparts to enhance the story. Murders are often mentioned, and sometimes a game might have a crime scene photo with a “corpse” in it! The possible threat of violence from without the room can be a device we use in our pre game story.
- Intoxicating substances = We may reference alcohol in our games, but not to any other substances.
- Distressing content = This is the most common element effecting our age limit, since even for an adult player the one hour time limit is suprisingly agonizing. While we’ve not intentionally crafted our content to be scary in most of our games, they are designed for intensity for their main audience, the adults. Surprising plot twists, music and ambient lighting add to this mood of excitement.
In a nutshell