How to host a virtual escape game party with your friends on Zoom

How to host a virtual escape game party with your friends on Zoom

We never thought we’d be sharing tips on how to play a virtual escape game with your friends from your living room! But that was before the current times called for it. 

Our doors might be closed for now, but that hasn’t stopped us from delivering the clueQuest experience to you. Earlier this month we launched Print+Cut+Escape!, a printable escape game to enjoy in the comfort of your own home.

Since then, we’ve been getting so many questions from agents wondering how they can play the game virtually with friends and family. We are so here for that!

After some testing with our own friends and family, we wanted to share our tips and tricks.

What you’ll need:

  • Print+Cut+Escape! printouts for each household
  • Zoom 
  • Ideally 2 x devices per household
  • Your favourite drinks and snacks!

Instructions:

  1. Download Zoom - it’s quick and easy (and free!) to download. You can download Zoom here
  2. Schedule the event - Set a date on Zoom and send the invitation to your friends. The only downside to the free version is that it caps meetings at 40 minutes. But don’t worry - just tell your team to jump back on the same link when this happens. (Pro tip: If someone in the group has the paid version, get them to send the invite!)
  3. Make it a party - Why not ask your guests to purchase the same drinks and nibbles? If you’re feeling really creative you could even assign everyone a character from the game and dress up!
  4. Download Print+Cut+Escape! - If every member of your team has access to a printer, only one of you needs to purchase the game. This person can share the printable .pdf files with the group. If you don’t all have a printer, your team members will each need to purchase their own pre-printed version. You can purchase Print+Cut+Escape! here
  5. Prepare the pieces in advance - It takes about 30 minutes to print and cut all the game pieces (personally, we find it quite therapeutic) so share the .pdf files in advance and get everyone to do this ahead of time. (Pro tip: It also helps to divide the sections into chapters and lay them out wherever you are playing) 
  6. Set up the game - The virtual escape game party works best when every household uses two devices, one for the Zoom meeting, and one for the online game platform. (Pro tip: We suggest choosing the “Gallery mode” setting in Zoom to see all players simultaneously)
  7. Connect to the platform - Once everyone’s on the Zoom meeting, the host can share the link to the online platform (whoever purchased the game will have received this via email). Every player can then progress through the online system at the same time. If this doesn’t happen automatically, simply refresh your browser. (Pro tip: We recommend that the team nominates one person to type in the answers. Not only does this help the game progress smoothly, it also encourages teamwork!)
  8. Playing the game - The team should discuss each puzzle together, then work on potential solutions using the printed puzzles in each household, while sharing their thinking with the rest of the team. Whenever there is a video or audio file to play, we suggest each household mutes their mic and plays it individually. You could even decide to play against teams in other households, racing to beat each others times! (Pro tip: it’s a great idea to set up a group chat to share photos of potential solutions) 

So there you have it! It’s certainly a bit more complicated than playing an escape room IRL, but we’ve tried this ourselves and can attest that it really adds something special to the game. If you give this a go, we would love to hear how it went! We would also love to see your team photos on social media - don’t forget to tag @cluequest and use the hashtag #PrintCutEscape. 

Here are some other questions agents have asked:

- What if you don’t have two devices in every household?
You can still play, it will just mean toggling back and forth between the Zoom meeting and the online game platform. The main downside of this is losing visibility of what everyone is up to when they toggle away from Zoom.

- Can’t someone just share their screen on Zoom?
You can, however we felt it was a more fluid experience for everyone to log onto the platform using a second device. The major advantage is you can always see what everyone is up to. 

- Does everyone need to enter the correct answer to progress?
When playing as a virtual team, everyone is accessing the same game at once, so as soon as the correct answer is entered (no matter who does it) the whole team will progress. If this doesn’t happen automatically, simply refresh your browser.

- How many people can play?
We tested the virtual escape game party across 5 households (with 1-2 people per household) with excellent results! We wouldn’t recommend too many more connections, though, as it may be difficult to keep a larger number of people on track. (Pro tip: We found the virtual party worked best when there were 2 people in each household) 

- What if we don’t all have printers?
The virtual escape game party works best when everyone has a printer. However, if everyone lives in the UK then those without printers can order the pre-printed version. Just make sure you leave ample time for the game to be delivered.

- Can you play on another platform, like Skype or Google hangouts?
You sure can. However, we decided to test on Zoom as it does a really good job of handling several people talking at once (trust us, this will happen!). We're sure you could get good results with other platforms too, but the tips we’ve listed here are specifically for Zoom.

Good luck organising your virtual escape game party, agents! You can order your copy of Print+Cut+Escape here!

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