Building immersive escape rooms 1
Updated: Feb 20
The Escape Key regularly gets reviews and feedback from customers which mention how immersive our rooms are.
"It exceeded all of our expectations; a truly immersive experience." Google review
What is this thing called immersion?
Whether it is a film, computer game or indeed an escape room, immersion is about drawing your audience or players in, and helping them make an emotional connection with the story. In an escape room, if this is done well, players will be fully engaged in the experience and really care about what is happening, disbelief will be suspended - even in fantastical scenarios – as players strive to complete their objective as fast as they can.
How The Escape Key achieves immersion in an escape room
The environment or set
This article will concentrate on how The Escape Key builds its games around a strong story. The other elements will be covered in parts 2 and 3 of this series.
I have been to so many escape rooms where the Gamesmaster simply leads players to the escape room and says something along the lines of "you’ve got 60 minutes to escape before the serial killer returns" or ‘find and diffuse the bomb before the building blows up’. No explanation of why there might be a bomb, or what the players are doing in the house of a serial killer. In terms of engaging the players in a story and making them ‘care’ it is a great opportunity missed.
At The Escape Key, the story is the starting point of our escape games and the narrative must be strong enough to carry the player along through the game.
We achieve this through using real stories from Newcastle’s history. Not only do customers tell us they enjoy learning something interesting about the city but because the stories are authentic and based on real events in real locations, they trust the narrative and engage more naturally with the story line.
"The link to Newcastle's local heritage and fascinating back story - it created a really immersive, fun experience. Would definitely recommend." Trip Advisor
A strong engaging story must also be presented well if the players are going to feel immersed in the game they are about to experience. Many escape rooms have TV screens in their waiting room where they might display safety points, special offers or other news. A short well made film is an ideal medium for increasing the level of understanding and engagement in the story and heightening the sense of urgency for escaping from the rooms.
"The escape room immerses you in the history of real events that happened in Newcastle. Locked up in fear for your life you need to escape before being hung" Google
You don’t need a huge budget and with a decent smartphone or DSLR camera great results can be achieved. All our game masters are encouraged to contribute in other ways to The Escape Key and staff with photography or video creation skills are involved in the production of our short films to enhance the story telling.
Games masters are crucial to the whole escape room experience from greeting the customers, explaining the escape room, giving safety information and of course monitoring the games. But with a bit of training, the games masters can add significantly to the immersiveness of the experience. Escape Key games masters take on a role linked to the game. In Armageddon they are a commanding officer briefing the front line team on their objective. In Electric City they are Joseph Swan’s panicking assistant imploring the players to break into a workshop and save the light bulb from an angry mob. Our Witch games master re-enact the witch trials of the 17th century by ‘pricking’ the customers to find those guilty of witchcraft before locking them in our dungeon awaiting the hangman. These short in character dramatisations help maintain the engagement of the players built up by the film. The order is crucial so this should be the last interaction with the players until the timer starts - imagine if the film was followed by "toilets are along the corridor and you can put your belongings in the lockers provided" -the players would instantly disengage from the story and the experience in the escape room would suffer as a result..
Find out more about our Escape Rooms Here
Part 2 in this series will look at how the aesthetics and decoration of the room play a huge role in further immersing the players in the game.