several hands piled together in a circle

Escape Room Roles

You all know that I love escape rooms at this point. I’ve written extensively about my love for them as well as a how-to guide and a list of criteria that I use when rating escape rooms that I’ve done. I have a running spreadsheet of all of the escape rooms that we’ve done, and as of now, Dan and I have done 29 rooms. As the resident escape room expert who has escaped many different rooms with many different people, I have seen all kinds of escape room styles.

The room changes you. It doesn’t build character, it reveals it. The room can turn minor acquaintances into best friends and best friends into mortal enemies. The role that you take on when you enter an escape room is a defining characteristic.

Today, I wanted to share the roles that people take on when they go into an escape room. If you’re going into a room with only a few buddies, never fear! It’s not necessary to have all of these types in the room with you, and some people take on more than one role anyway! Your role also may not be the same forever! One of my friends has graduated from “Overwhelmed Bystander” to “Utility Player” after just a few rooms!

Which type are you? Find out below!

Control Freak

So you’re in an escape room and you just found a key to something. You’re excited to figure out which lock it unlocks (our friendly Locksmith can help with that, of course!), but all of a sudden, that key is snatched out of your hand. Who took it, you may ask?

It was the Control Freak, of course!

The Control Freak is the person in the room that must be involved in every big moment. Was a puzzle solved without them? They need to hear all about it so they know what’s going on. Did you finally find something you all were waiting to find? The Control Freak is the first to jump in and use it once it’s found. The Control Freak is the opposite of a team player because they want to do everything themselves and won’t trust anyone else to do anything without them knowing about it.


The All-Hands-On-Deck player is almost the opposite of the Control Freak. While they both take on a leadership role in the group, the All-Hands-On-Deck leader is insistent that everyone feels included (even if not everyone wants to be). If they find a key or a combination to a lock, they pass it off to someone else to complete. They found it in the first place, why not share the glory by having someone else actually open the lock? The All-Hands-On-Deck player is the person making sure that everyone has given consent to get a hint from the game master and that everyone is looking before the final puzzle is solved. It was a team effort, so everyone should feel included!

Laidback Escape Artist

The Laidback Escape Artist isn’t there for the glory or for the puzzles. The Laidback Escape Artist is pretty much solely there to socialize. Hell, the Laidback Escape Artist may have just been invited to join by one person in the party and might not know everyone else. They’re happy to jump into puzzles if personally invited or asked, but they’re also just as happy to sit on the sidelines and take everything in.


Did you find a bunch of pieces that have to come together to create something? Stumble upon a slide puzzle? Maybe some hieroglyphics you can’t decipher? This is where your Puzzlemaster steps in to take charge! The Puzzlemaster is exactly what they sound like: the person who solves your difficult puzzles! If someone in your group is good at finding patterns in clues, they might be the perfect Puzzlemaster for your party!

Overwhelmed Bystander

I know that it seems like this role might be the same as the Laidback Escape Artist, but that’s not the case. While our Laidback Escape Artist is just chilling and happy to lend a helping hand, the Overwhelmed Bystander tends to be a bit too overwhelmed to help. This player can be seen sitting on the side of the room, getting whiplash from watching everyone else run around the room or laying on the floor in a fetal position. But don’t worry about the Overwhelmed Bystander, they’re totally fine and don’t require medical intervention. They just want to get out, so the sooner the rest of you solve the room, the better!


My fiancé Dan is The Tornado in our group. His immediate instinct when he goes into a room is to touch everything and take it all apart. You know when you walk into an escape room and they give you all of those warnings about not trying to unscrew anything or force anything open and you wonder which past person caused them to create that rule? Dan. Dan is the answer to that question.

The Tornado steps into the room and starts opening anything that can be opened. Drawers, containers, nothing is safe. The Tornado lifts up carpets, chairs, anything and everything to check for clues underneath. If there’s something hidden on the wall, your Tornado will find it. Just make sure that your Tornado doesn’t get you reprimanded or kicked out with their antics! Game masters tend to struggle with Tornadoes because of the possibility that they’ll break something or use something they found in the room improperly to get ahead (like using knitting needles to get balls out of a piece of PVC pipe or using a rope to open a locked door that’s out of reach). 

Dan. I’m talking about Dan.


Oh! This one’s me! The Drifter type bounces from one puzzle to the next, whether or not they’ve solved it. If other people are working on a puzzle, they’ll jump in and see if the puzzle solvers need help. If there’s an unused clue sitting alone, they’ll jump on it and see if they can get part of it done. The Drifter doesn’t like to waste too much time on one thing and can easily get overwhelmed as they feel time tick down. They’re small-burst-of-energy workers who prefer juggling several different tasks to seeing one all the way through. We Drifters also love to see as much of the room and as many of the puzzles as possible. We want to have our hands in solving all of the puzzles, if we can help it!


Unsurprisingly, Editor Josh insisted that I add this one to my list. Your Locksmith does exactly what it sounds like — they help you figure out the locks more quickly. And in escape rooms, there are lots of locks! Your Locksmith can know what type of lock fits what type of key, so no one has to waste time checking every key you find with every lock. The Locksmith can also listen to tumblers [Editor’s Note: or check for true/false gating in most modern combination locks] and open locks without needing to find the combinations in the room. What a timesaver!


The Loner…well, the Loner likes to work alone. Let them solve the puzzle in peace, will you?! The Loner doesn’t need to touch every puzzle in the room, but they want to own the puzzles that they do. Don’t jump in and try to help, you’ll just be in the way. Why would the Loner even do a group activity if they didn’t want to be part of a group? Who knows? All we know is that if you lay one finger on that damn thing they’re working on, they’re going to hiss at you. Hopefully you can still be friends after this one…


The Notetaker is an invaluable addition to your escape room team. When you’re in an escape room, there’s a lot going on and you only have so long to complete it. This means that it’s very easy to forget which clues you have and haven’t used. The Notetaker keeps track (either mentally, on their phone, or with pen and paper) of what has and hasn’t been used, as well as any numbers or phrases that you find around the room that you don’t have use for yet. Because they know what the clues are and where they go, they’re also helpful when someone else in the room needs a recheck. If you’ve done some complicated math and you didn’t come up with the right answer or need to make sure your combination on your combination lock is lined up correctly, have your Notetaker come and check you! No sense in wasting time trying and retrying things when the Notetaker can easily confirm if you have the right combo!

Utility Player

This final type is essentially a catch-all for those who don’t fall into other types. The Utility Player is a versatile person who can jump in wherever needed. If someone needs a fresh set of eyes on a puzzle or even just needs two more hands to complete something, the utility player is always ready to jump in and help out. Not as laid back as the Laidback Escape Artist, the Utility Player has the initiative to start a puzzle they see sitting alone.

If you’ve done several escape rooms before like we have, do you think I covered everything or are there types I missed? What type are you and which do you find most helpful when completing a room? Should I create a social app where you can find the perfect people to help you complete an escape room?!

Okay, so that last one was a joke…probably…

Photo by Hannah Busing on Unsplash

16 thoughts on “Escape Room Roles

  1. Ive never done an escape room but I know that I would not be good at them. I get frustrated way too easily and give up LOL and then get angry for having to be stuck there until we were out

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hahahaha!! So obviously, I wouldn’t be with you on escape rooms, but I do understand the sentiment. The “why did I get myself into this, damn now I’m stuck here!” feeling. You could always leave and go to the bar and wait for the rest of your party to escape 😅


    1. You did miss it, I’m afraid 😜 I consider myself to be a Drifter, but in some ways, I’m also an All-Hands-On-Deck player. If I’m comfortable with the group I’m in, I’m happy to take charge, but I never want to be the Control Freak, so I make sure to share and let everyone participate! LOL

      Liked by 1 person

  2. My husband and I just completed number 49 in Florida during my birthday trip; it’s an expensive hobby, but we’re obsessed! Since it’s usually just the 2 of us solving a room I find that our roles change pretty often. I’d say we’re both either a Puzzlemaster or a Drifter (though I can have some Tornado tendencies).

    Another type of player is the one that gets defeated too soon on every task and is constantly asking the group if they can ask for a hint. It’s as though they need to be reassured throughout the whole experience and don’t really understand the concept of an escape room.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You and I simply need to be best friends. That’s that 🤷‍♀️ Seriously, about to email you my number right now 🤣

      Oh damn! Dan and I have never done a room just the two of us, but I am a bit worried we wouldn’t make it out without other people. I have a friend who’s a gamemaster in another state, and when we visit her, it’ll just be the two of us doing the room and I’m not sure how it’ll go haha. Definitely is expensive, but it’s just such a fun experience! It’s great to have a couple of super versatile players to get stuff done!

      Thanks for adding a type! I legitimately have never played with anyone like this (which is a good thing, I guess!), but it makes sense! In my experience, solving that first puzzle is CRUCIAL to team morale as a whole. That first puzzle either makes you or breaks you because you can solve it quickly and then blow through the room with confidence or struggle with it for 20 minutes and then screw everything else up because you feel like a failure who won’t make it out of the room.


      1. Yay new bestie!! 😄 We’ve only done a handful of rooms with other people (one was with a group of complete strangers which was interesting…) and we just prefer doing them on our own; we already know we communicate well with each other and know each other’s weaknesses and strengths; I’d say we’ve become a pretty good team.

        I was actually just reading through an old post I made last year about our trip to Nashville and tagged you about a specific escape room company that I think you would love. Not sure if you saw it, but if ever you’re in need of a vacation destination with a great escape room, this would be it!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. 🥰🥰

        Yes, we’ve done one with strangers as well…I was not a fan! I pretty much solely book private rooms for us because I don’t believe I could do one well with strangers unless we had some serious chemistry right off the bat! I’d love to see you two tear apart a room though — sounds like you’re a team of escape room machines!

        I didn’t see it before now, but that’s amazing! Will definitely bookmark for later…I’ve never been to Nashville, but obviously everywhere I go I’m looking for rooms, so that’s awesome! Hell, Pack Up + Go might send me there at some point…I know it’s one of their destinations!


  3. I have never done an escape room, but I’ve been told I’d be good at them. And I’m sure I’d really enjoy it, but I don’t have a friend group nearby that would be into that kind of thing. Despite that, I think I’d be the Puzzlemaster type… The closest I’ve come to the escape room is the at home murder mystery games. I’m usually the go to for solving the puzzles that no one else can figure out.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s a shame that you don’t have a group around you right now that would want to! Maybe I do need to create that app after all lol. But it does indeed sound like you’d be the resident Puzzlemaster! A very important role, indeed. Especially for any slide puzzles…keep me away from all of the slide puzzles and I’m happy 🤣

      Liked by 1 person

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