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How do you keep time in your low-cost escape room? After all, the whole idea is to have the players complete their mission in a specific amount of time.
There are a few different ways to keep time in a low-cost escape room. They key is to make sure the players know how much time they have left.
Here are my suggestions for timers. Let me know in the comments if you have other ideas.
The easiest thing to do is have the facilitator call out the time remaining at specific intervals. I would do it at the 30, 15, 10, and 1 minute marks. The facilitator simply needs a watch, stopwatch or phone. While this is easy, it certainly isn’t as fun as other options below.
Since this is a low-cost escape room, odds are you won’t have any electronic props. However, I am sure you have access to a laptop that you can use. For a free timer, check YouTube.
Here’s a neat 45 minute timer.
Here’s a standard 60 minute timer.
Digital Clock/Countdown Timer
If you want to invest in a timer that is not on a computer and can be seen by everyone, you can always use a wall clock or even a kitchen timer…but where’s the fun in that? How about something like the ECVISION Jumbo Clock and Countdown Timer at around $50.
Okay, let’s step it up a notch. If you want to use your PC laptop or a connected monitor, check out the Countdown Kings Escape Room Timer. It is soooo neat. It has 5 different themed timers for different escape room scenarios. You can add or customize the colors and sound, and you can even send hints if you have the laptop in another room connected to a second monitor (which most of you won’t use). It’s on sale as of this writing for $50.
Wild West Theme
Let’s talk about immersion for a second. Depending on the theme and story of your escape room game, these timer most likely won’t fit into that. For example, if you have an Egyptian theme and the storyline revolves around a mummy’s tomb inside a pyramid, an electronic timer or laptop doesn’t exactly fit the theme. You may instead want to use an hourglass, but even then…
Of course, we are talking about low-cost escape rooms that are most likely for young people. That being the case, any of the options above would be fine. The themed timer would be the most fun, but even a free timer off of YouTube would be cool.
So, unless you’re spending a lot of money on props and set design, don’t worry about total immersion. Leave that to the commercial escape rooms.