Victor Blake, currently under Covid-19 lockdowns Manhattan apartment with his 7-year-old daughter, is a puzzle guy. The founder of Escape the Room, a rapidly growing experiential business prior to the pandemic, Blake has pivoted from engineering puzzles that make it hard for adults to break out to engineering puzzles that make it easier for a child to stay in.
Escape rooms don’t function like normal games. The mechanics need to be discovered and that’s a significant part of the point. How does that inform the way you play with your daughter?
Kids will spend something like 70 or 80 percent of the time on a playground making up the rules to whatever game they’re going to play. If they’re playing with a ball, it’s all about bouncing and points. This is worth that and this many bounces is worth this much more. So when you’re considering a game — specifically one that might go one for a while — you want to spend most of the time on directions and rules. Better put, you want to get the kid to spend most of their time thinking about directions and rules. It promotes logical thinking and enables creative solutions. It let’s them understand how systems work.
What does that look like in action?
I give my daughter a few key principles and make her create her own game. That’s why I love mazes. She can keep track of tape and one rule. So I ask her to make a maze on the floor with tape and the rule is that the person trying to solve the maze can only turn right. She takes a long time making it and then I tell her to decorate it and that takes a long time as well. Then solving it together takes time.