Escape Room Dictionary

Relatively speaking, escape rooms are a new form of entertainment (want to learn about the history of escape rooms read our blog on the History of Escape Room Games).

As with any hobby or occupation, the escape room industry has its own nomenclature that helps operators and players communicate with each other.  Though you can look these definitions up in a dictionary, some of them take on a more nuanced meaning within the context of escape games. 

If you’re planning to play an escape room, here’s a handy reference guide to help make your experience go a little more smoothly:


ACTOR:  A performer within the game used to portray a character for further immersion, atmosphere, or even interactive puzzle.

BRUTE FORCE:  Most often refers to the process of guessing the last bit of missing information from a puzzle, either by process of elimination, trial and error, or trying every remaining option. Similar to hacking but involves guessing only part of a puzzle.

CLUE:  A piece of evidence or information used to correctly find an answer or solution to a puzzle.

ESCAPE ROOM:  Also known as an “escape game”.  A physical adventure game in which players are ‘locked’ inside a room and must solve a series of puzzles and riddles using clues, hints, and strategy in order to free themselves—or ‘escape’ within a set timeframe (usually an hour).

EUREKA EFFECT:  Also known as the A-ha! Moment.  The common human experience of suddenly understanding a previously incomprehensible problem or concept.

FORCE:  An interaction that causes an affected object to be pushed or pulled in a certain direction by using more physical energy or strength than is necessary to open, or manipulate an object, item or prop, such as a simple drawer, door, book, or lock.  Typically measured as more than two fingers’ worth of effort to move something.  Also includes ripping, prying, pulling, or dismantling.

GAME MASTER:  The person or persons who acts as the game organizer by monitoring the game to ensure safety, offer hints, enforce rules and reset games. Can sometimes be physically within a game, but most often is outside of the game.

GUESTS:  Patrons of an escape room who participate in the escape game.

HACKING: The process of guessing every possible combination to solve a puzzle or open a lock instead of finding the intended solution using clues or hints  provided. Can also refer to unlocking a lock by feeling the tumblers catch. More often than not throws off the flow of the game and confuses players.

HINT: Some advice or clarification used to nudge players or otherwise advance the game in the correct direction. Hints are supplemental information often provided by a Game Master to help players solve a given puzzle, if necessary.

IMMERSION:  When the fourth wall becomes unclear or unapparent. The degree to which an escape room can make you believe you are in and part of the world in which the game takes place.

JUMP TO CONCLUSIONS: To make a hasty judgment before considering all the facts.

LINEAR:  Refers to a game design or series of puzzles that follows a logical progression from one to the next.

LOCK:  A mechanism for keeping a door, lid, etc., fastened and requiring a unique key or combination to open.  Combinations can be alphabetical, numerical, directional, or other.  Can also be used as slang to describe how many (visible) puzzles are in a game. For example, “We still have three locks left in this room!”

NON-LINEAR:  Refers to a game design or series of puzzles that does not follow a logical progression from one to the next.

PLAYERS:  Patrons of an escape room who are actively participating in, or who have already participated in the escape game.

PRIVATE ROOM:  An escape room in which any given group is not required to participate in the game with strangers (all of the rooms at Quest Reality Games are private).

PROP: Generally, refers to any item contained in an escape room, including puzzles and red herrings.

PUBLIC ROOM:  An escape roomin which players may be required to participate in the game with other strangers.

PUZZLE:  A problem or lock that can be solved using one or more clues.

RED HERRING:  A puzzle or element within a game intended to distract or throw players off.

RIDDLE:  A mystifying, misleading, or puzzling question posed as a problem to be solved. Often includes a play on words.

RULES: Set guidelines or requirements that must be followed by players the entire duration of the game. These are not to be broken.

SET DRESSING:  Elements within an escape game, including props, designed to make the environment more realistic, believable, and immersive.

TEAM BONDING:  Describes an activity intended to bring a group closer together through some type of fun activity.  Want to learn more about Team Bonding?  Read our blog Team Bonding vs Team Building

TEAM BUILDING:  Describes a group activity that focuses on long-term results, and builds skills, such as problem-solving, which can help the team function more cohesively afterwards.  Want to learn more about Team Bonding?  Read our blog Team Bonding vs Team Building

THEME:  Refers to an individual escape game within a particular facility containing more than one escape room.  Also known as an escape room or escape game.

Escape Room Slang (Common Terms)

3-, 4-, or 5-DIGIT:  Short hand for a lock that requires a 3-, 4-, or 5-digit number combination or passphrase to unlock.

4 or 5-LETTER:  Short hand for a lock that requires a 4- or 5-letter combination to unlock, often (but not always) a word.

CALL OUT:  Reaching outside of the game for assistance from the Game Master, often for hints.

This is by no means an exhaustive list of the terminology used every day in escape rooms, but if you are new or need help describing something to a new escape room enthusiast, this list is a great place to start.

Looking for something fun and unique to do in Victoria? Now that you’ve got the lingo down, book your escape online now!