Birthday party on Zoom during COVID-19

(VOVWORLD) -With in-person parties  completely off the table for many people this year, throwing a Zoom party that everyone actually wants to join is the best idea. You may have a bunch of questions about what to prepare, how to host, or what games to play during  a Zoom party.  Joe Fitzsimmons, an English language teacher and photographer, who just had his birthday party on Zoom, is here with us on our weekly Culture Rendezvous to answer some of our questions about having a party on Zoom.

Hi and welcome to our show today! Can you please introduce yourself to the audience?

My name is Joe.  I’m an English language teacher from Chicago. I’ve been teaching for about 20 years, the last seven of which I’ve been primarily an online teacher.

I know that you are an English teacher and during  lockdowns you are still teaching online. So how has Covid affected your life?

Well, I think the biggest effect that Covid has had on me is that I’ve spent a lot more time alone.  So, I’ve had to focus more on my habits and routines, making sure I’m going to bed when I should, waking up when I should.  Just basically having good habits, having better self-discipline. There’s been some positive things. I’ve been reading more, studying some languages a little bit more. I think it’s made me appreciate time with my friends and family.

Wow! All great ways to enjoy life, even in lockdown. I guess you must be a very positive person. I have a question for you, as I know that your birthday was last month,  how did you celebrate this year?

Last year I went to my brother’s house for dinner. I think we had pizza, because that’s what we do in Chicago, is we eat a lot of pizza. And then we had some cake. We actually did use Zoom, just to communicate with people who couldn’t make it there. But this year I actually I stayed home, so the Zoom call was necessary, the only option we had. So first it was the entire family, in particular the kids, the nieces, the nephews, but they went to bed and for most of the evening it was just the adults, my mom and my siblings, and we did a virtual escape room on Zoom, which was really cool.

Escape room on Zoom? Well, I have to be honest, the concept is not very familiar to me even though I use  Zoom quite often. Please explain more about escape room?

Yeah, before Covid, escape rooms were primarily a place that you went to, like to a physical location, like a real place, like a building, a house.  I think the best way to explain it is to just read what the Merriam Webster dictionary says about it: “a game in which participants confined to a room or other enclosed setting (such as a prison cell) are given a set amount of time to find a way to escape (as by discovering hidden clues and solving a series of riddles or puzzles)”. The escape room company we used, to promote them, was  We had a one hour time limit. Basically the situation we were in was this:  We were trapped in a house, and zombies were going to attack our house. They were going to overwhelm us, so we had one hour to find the hidden vaccine. So basically we had to do a lot of teamwork to solve problems, math problems, puzzles, riddles, etc etc.

Birthday party on Zoom during COVID-19 - ảnh 1

Sounds interesting! But I guess it must be a little bit challenging at first for people like me to try an escape room. Do you have any recommendations or suggestions for a first time player?

Yeah, I think the biggest recommendation or suggestion I would have is to just really learn about what skills are necessary for an escape room.  From what I have learned, there are six primary skills: Organization, Communication and Listening, Observation, Patience and Calm, A combination of Logical and Creative thinking, Time Management.

Escape rooms are designed to be difficult. So you have to work efficiently and effectively, you have to work together as a team. And because they are tricky, you always really need to pay attention, keep your ears and eyes open at all times, you really need to become a detective. You really need to study the big picture, but also pay attention to the details. 

The time for the game on escape room is limited, so sometimes players might  feel under pressure, right?

Yes, you are right. Patience and Calm: you can’t get too stressed, you have to remain calm, have some faith in your team. So just take a deep breath and relax.

Logical and Creative thinking:  You have to think outside the box, you have to think creatively. Every clue is a link in the chain that leads you to the solution.  So, once you solve problem A, you go to problem B, problem B to problem C, and each one is related.

Time Management:  because you only have an hour, you don’t have time to go order Chinese food, go make dinner, make tea or go take a shower. Every second is valuable, so you really do need to work as a team. And don’t spend too much time on one puzzle. Some of the common tasks and puzzles that are used are:  hidden objects (observation skills), visual or word puzzles, locks (physical locks with number or letter combination or where you need to find keys), math problems, so if you have good math skills, that’s certainly helpful (map coordinates, dates in a calendar, dates in a newspaper)

So basically, if you don’t solve it in one hour or whatever the time limit is, then you fail. In our case, we failed and we all became zombies. But it was fun, it was a new experience for everyone in my family, and it was something that we hope to do again for the next birthday. It was a good time. I think we made the best of the situation. So, I highly recommend escape rooms.

 Thank you very much for talking to us today about escape room on Zoom. Hope to have you here with us again on VOV24/7 culture Rendezvous with more interesting stories. I’m Minh My saying: Goodbye!