Now, all that being the case, there are some key differentiators that make puzzles more or less age appropriate.
DIFFERENCES BETWEEN KID AND ADULT PUZZLES
The first key difference is the use of language. If a puzzle relies on reading comprehension, then that is a skill that is either present or not in younger persons. The ability to easily scan a document, retain what is read, and understand the mechanics of language, words, syntax and even poetic devices like metaphor are crucial in many Escape Mail puzzles.
That’s why we recommend our games for age 10+, and even then, adult accompaniment is extremely helpful.
Another differentiator is the use of supports (or clues/hints). Many adults do not like to use hints or clues. They view them as a crutch, or a lack of independence. If an adult uses a clue, there’s often a sense of let-down or disappointment. For younger players (and this is more true the younger you go) we often see immense joy and satisfaction from receiving a clue. In the escape room context, offering a clue to a younger person often elicits a wide-eyed, exuberant, “THANK YOU”.
Why is that?
We think it’s because youth have not yet been trained to think that getting help is a sign of weakness. They don’t have the awareness of social dynamics and competition and doing “better” than others. Sometimes competitiveness can drive adults to succeed, but often it can inhibit a spirit of collaboration, openness and curiosity.
RECOVERING THE WONDER OF YOUTH
So how do you (assuming “you” is an adult!) recover and maintain a childlike sense of wonder.
Surprisingly, the answer is not as simple as “play more Escape Mail.”
Simply purchasing a product does not inherently change your outlook on life. No one can do that for you. Only you can decide how to be.
- Only you can decide to take a closer look at something when it piques your curiosity.
- Only you can choose to become a willing participant in a game when more “practical” matters could be attended to.
- Only you can allow yourself to wonder about things, and to delve into researching them and uncovering their secrets.
- And since beauty is what triggers wonder, then only you can attune to beauty through sensitivity (more on that below)!
YOU HAVE THE KEY TO CHILDLIKE WONDER
All you have to do it use it.
PS. At the start of this article we quoted Catherine L’Ecuyer who has written an incredible article called “The Wonder Approach to learning”. There are so many good parts, but let’s just look at one. In the article, they make this phenomenal statement, “Beauty is what triggers wonder. Wonder attunes to beauty through sensitivity.” We endeavour to make our puzzles beautiful: to ensure the design is congruent, the images are appealing, the text is laid out well, etc. And in the process, by creating and communicating beautifully, we hope to trigger that wonder response in you, the puzzler. We’ll continue to get better and better at this as we develop more and more games, and we appreciate you following along on the journey.