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Escape room

Stuck Somewhere You’re Not: Digital Escape Rooms

Most things make the transition from the physical to the digital. Escape rooms are no different. Read on to find out more.
2021.01.14.

Escape rooms have become a popular activity. They’re widely present in cities globally, after their initial success in the Asian markets before beginning their migration to the Americas and everywhere else. It is that sense of adventure that they offer which attracts the large and growing crowd to their premises. Being locked in a room, racing against a clock to solve puzzles to release yourself: these are major set-pieces in all-time favourite action films, horror films, and sci-fi films, and the desire to feel this rush is often satisfied by escape rooms. There is, then, a close association between having to be inside one to feel this. Nothing can substitute for it. If this is true, then why are digital escape rooms developed and so popular?

man sitting with vr goggles on

Change of Medium

It is not unusual for physical activities or events to make the transition from physical to digital. One simple explanation for this is the ability to reach a wider audience. Physical events have limitations – venue size and entry, travel, and time – which restricts who can access the event or activity. Digital options, while having their own hindrances – hardware, internet speeds, and technological literacy, for instance – solve a lot of the issues physical events have. It is more than just enabling more people to spectate: TVs have granted this privilege for decades – be it Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation, sit-com finales, or Super Bowls. The internet, video games, and other technology allow people to interact with each other and in events. It is as much about participation as spectating.

Online casinos are one successful example. Casinos have historically been land-based. Fruity machines in rows and rows and sussing the bluffs of opponents at the blackjack table: it was an experience which was inherently communal and physical. In the late 90s, online casino games began to be developed and played. Through the late 00s and early 10s they began to flourish into the multi-billion-dollar industry it is today, with successful casinos like Mr Green. Online casinos are quite flexible with the experience they craft for customers. They can replicate the glamour with live games, sleek website designs, and VIP schemes. They provide the quick and easy fun of slots with exciting and functional games. This success isn’t just indicative of an industry's need to adapt to changing technology and demands to survive, but, also, their ability to create different experiences through different media.

Escape rooms follow this trend. Developers are creating digital versions. They cater to the same audience of adventure and team-building seekers. This is with the added benefit of providing better access to those who might not be able to experience the physical version.

Digital Escape Rooms

There are many video games which make use of the escape room dynamic as single missions within a broader arc. Players must interact with the environment to manipulate balls into sockets or stacking boxes, etc., to free themselves and continue with the level. It is an essential aspect of most action-adventure games. (Many guides and tutorials for these levels exist.) There are, though, whole games crafted with escape rooms as their focal point. The Room, for instance, follows this design. With the capability of console, mobile, or PC gaming, the mechanics can be complex, difficult, and immersive while offering the potential for multiplayer which escape room lovers demand. The new medium can also provide those who previously struggled a new chance to grasp it.

Video conferencing software have been able to offer businesses the chance to host an escape room and VR promises another advancement of this. It will completely immerse the player in a room, more closely resembling the in-person escape rooms. However, designs can be more elaborate as there are no physical boundaries.

Digital experiences are in no way less legitimate than in-person ones. That distinction and opinion is often based and predicated on tradition. What is felt is legitimate, and the thrills of an escape room and no less thrilling

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