Every Tuesday the Cog team get together for a team meeting. It’s a good opportunity for us to keep up-to-date with our colleagues’ projects and for the international ‘Coggers’, (Razvan, Zoltan and Erica) to Skype in and be projected onto the wall at 5x their normal size. At the close of the meeting, when we have dotted the Is and crossed the Ts, we share our personal diary events. This is usually a mixture of meeting dates, film discussions, theatre events, art exhibitions and dodgeball fixtures.*
It was at this point one grey Tuesday in December that the giant, projected Razvan casually said, ‘oh, nothing much. I’m just going to escape a room’. There was a short pause while the Greenwich team wondered if Razvan was secretly a spy. Michael politely asked him to explain.
The concept is based on the Japanese online game ‘Takagism’, which requires players to solve puzzles in order to get out of a virtual room, but various companies have developed the format to inhabit a physical environment. One such company, Escape Rooms, claims to offer players ‘the opportunity to use their intuition, teamwork skills and intelligence to accomplish a unique and challenging task’. Sold.
Skip forward to last Tuesday and you’ll find said team following me around London Bridge holding a rather vague map, chatting excitedly about the ‘80s television show, Knightmare. I then realize I am lost, so Sam takes over and we find it (this becomes a running theme throughout the night).
We are greeted by our charmingly energetic host, Mikey, who will let us out of the locked room should we fail the challenge and will give us up to three hints should we need them. The reception is covered with photos of triumphant-looking escapees all claiming incredible escape times. Intimidated? No… well maybe a little.
We are led to the ‘Pharaoh’s Chamber’ with the challenge to solve the clues that open the eight doors around the room within 60 minutes. The room is exactly what we hoped for: hieroglyphics everywhere, statues guarding the doors that resembled the god Anubis and loads of things painted gold. We ransacked the room looking for clues and began our quest. Unfortunately I can’t describe the tasks themselves as that would be a bit of a spoiler but they consisted of a mixture of anagram, logic and visual puzzles. The digital team excelled at the logic puzzles, the designers showed off their excellent lateral thinking and I held the walkie-talkie.
Did we make it? Of course! Team Cog was out of the ancient pyramid in 54 minutes. Nowhere near some of the quickest times but not too shabby either.
‘And you only needed two clues’, Mikey kindly added as he saw us off into the January cold. And so brushing the ancient Egyptian sand out of eyes we made it back to London Bridge station (Michael leading this time).
* Ross plays for a Dodgeball league so he provides weekly updates of the pun-based opposition team names that are going to annihilate him that week. Names such as Snoop Dodge, The Salad Dodgers, Dr Strangedodge. The puns are of varying quality but we’ll save that for another journal entry.