North Texas Daily

Escaping the Square challenges minds with team-building puzzles

Escaping the Square challenges minds with team-building puzzles

October 14
21:32 2017

Tensions rise as six friends race against the clock, solving riddles and deciphering clues in an effort to escape before time runs out.

At Escaping the Square, participants are locked in a room and given 60 minutes to solve a series of puzzles in order to get out.

Owners and married couple Glenn and Adriana Barker opened Escaping the Square in 2015 after trying out an escape room with their family. They quickly fell in love with the activity.

“It was so much fun that we did another one immediately after we finished the first,” Adriana said. “Although I wouldn’t recommend doing two in a row because your brain literally hurts.”

Escaping the Square owner Glenn Barker resets the Frackin’ Earthquake room for the next group that booked online to play the game. Brigitte Zumaya

Although Glen and Adriana work full time jobs, they chose to open Escaping the Square to share the fun team-building with the rest of Denton.

Charging $30 per person plus an offer of 50 percent for students with the promo code “eagle,” they have all sorts of people flooding in to try out the rooms.

“With all the college students here, we decided to open our own escape room,” Adriana said. “We opened it as a hobby, and it became very popular. We have so much fun with the room.”

In recent years, escape rooms have risen in popularity. People of all ages enjoy challenging their brains in the cooperative game of puzzle-solving, so more escape rooms opened up to meet the growing demand as a result.

“When we opened, we were only like the fourth escape room in Texas,” Adriana said. “And now there are over forty.”

Escaping the Square is designed to encourage teamwork and collaboration through its series of challenges, and anybody can help solve the puzzles.

“It really helps people bond to be working together to achieve their goal under the pressure of the clock,” Adriana said. “It’s great for family, friends, coworkers, date night — it doesn’t matter. Anyone can come and play.”

Escaping the Square has several themes participants can choose from that each come with its own story and set of clues. The themes range from breaking out of a dungeon after getting kidnapped by pirates to publishing a story about local fracking before getting caught by the government.

“You have a theme, you have a storyline and you have a mission to accomplish,” Adriana said. “It’s like you’re getting transported into that story while you’re playing the game with your friends, and you get such a sense of accomplishment when you solve a clue.”

Groups of up to six are allowed in a room at a time and must develop their own methods of problem-solving to decipher all the clues. Each clue reveals another, and the difficulty ranges depending on the preferences of the players.

Escaping the Square owners Adriana and Glenn Barker show off their objects that are placed around the Frackin’ Earthquake room. Brigitte Zumaya

“Even though the game is the same, each experience is different because of the people you do it with,” Adriana said. “Everyone has different ideas, [and] everyone has different ways to play.”

Players are guided through the challenges by an employee speaking to them via a monitor and giving them hints to solve the clues.

“We have a monitor in the room so we can send messages to the players,” Barker said. “We can hear you and guide you through it. I don’t know who has more fun — the people playing or us.”

Biochemistry junior Matthew Sawyer has been to Escaping the Square twice, but his team did not make it out in time in their first attempt. The challenges they had to overcome proved to be too difficult to solve, and he and his friends did not cooperate well.

“We were so close to solving the last clue when the time ran out,” Sawyer said. “I think my friends and I got a little too competitive instead of trying to solve all the clues together, and that made it harder for us to finish.”

Their second run at the escape room was more successful because they focused more on solving the puzzles together instead of worrying about getting everything done as fast as they could.

“Our second time went way better, and we made it out with 11 minutes to spare,” Sawyer said. “We actually worked together and managed our time better.”

Psychology senior Alyssa Gonzalez and her friends made it out of the escape room in 42 minutes. They carefully thought over each of the clues and enjoyed the challenge it gave them. They plan on going again to try out a different theme.

“We did get frustrated a few times, but that was part of the fun,” Gonzalez said. “We all agree that we would love to do it again because we loved pushing our minds to figure out all the clues.”

Featured Image: Escaping the Square owners Adriana and Glenn Barker stand in the Frackin’ Earthquake room. Brigitte Zumaya

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Ashlee Winters

Ashlee Winters

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