The Rise of the Virtual Escape Room
What are they? and are they fun?
As the coronavirus pandemic began to take hold at the start of the year, it forced people around the world to stay at home. The strict social distancing measures that were implemented have seen many businesses around the world forced to get creative as they look to stay engaged with their consumers, creating innovative solutions to help them connect.
During the first few weeks, people who were locked down flocked to streaming services to watch the latest documentaries such as Tiger King, but it didn’t take long to realize that there is only so much television someone can watch. That has given rise to a host of different industries springing up, and one of the most popular and successful has been the rise of the virtual escape room.
The use of an online escape game has been a great way to bring friends, family, and colleagues together at a time when physical contact just wasn’t possible. Playing a virtual escape game has helped thousands of people around the world celebrate birthdays, stag dos, and even given companies a way to host virtual team building.
Even as the world slowly begins to return to normal, the virtual escape games look set to remain, giving a fun and interactive way for friends around the world to connect.
What is a virtual escape room?
As the name suggests, a virtual escape room takes the format of the escape room online. Following a similar design to the physical escape games that have become incredibly popular in recent years, the virtual options provide the same mental challenges, but from the comfort of your own home. Watch the legendary Chris Ramsay try and escape from a “Remote Adventure” from the comfort of home in the video below.
A virtual escape game utilizes the latest technology to create an immersive and captivating experience for all attendees. The digital collaboration sees participants working together to escape a virtual room in the same way that they would if they were playing physical escape games.
This involves utilizing knowledge and logic to solve puzzles and questions, but one of the most significant benefits of an online escape game is that it allows developers to get far more creative. No longer being bound by the physical limits of the real world, a virtual escape game can take players through different universes and experiences through the power of animation and virtual reality.
What types of online escape games are there?
Playing a virtual escape game is not a new invention for 2020. These games have been around online for a number of years; however, thanks to advancements in streaming and other technology in recent years these games have seen their popularity explode.
As the COVID-19 pandemic began to take hold of the world, the use of online escape games only increased, and thousands of people have discovered the fun and enjoyment from these virtual team building exercises.
Although there are many different providers and games to choose from, typically, these fall into one of four categories:
This is the oldest style of virtual escape game on the internet and has been around for many years. Although the early games had very basic graphics, recent technology has helped to make these games more visually appealing. Myst is without a doubt the most notable early point and click game. Myst is generally credited as being the grandfather of the modern escape room industry.
Often most utilized for a single player, point-and-click online escape games require the user to click around the screen to find clues, tools, and keys to help them find their way out of the room.
- Narrated escape rooms
An increasingly popular online escape game, the narrate escape games feature a guide helping to guide the user through the puzzle. These audio-heavy styles of games help to create a more compelling story that brings the audience in, and they can be played with multiple players making them a great choice for a virtual team building event.
- Live-Camera escape rooms
This style of virtual escape game has become one of the most popular formats since the lockdown began, helping physical brick and mortar businesses continue to operate throughout.
Suitable for multiple players, live-camera games allow participants to see a physical environment through a video conferencing software such as Zoom. The camera is often worn by a guide, who acts as the team’s eyes, ears, and hands. Below is a great video that helps explain and visualize what a Virtual Escape Game looks like.
If your looking for a great list of Online Escape Games check out this article from Country living that highlights 8 different rooms.
- Online mystery games
Although not a traditional format of a virtual escape room, this style of game can still make for a great virtual team building exercise. Rather than having to work together to find clues to help them unlock the door, participants instead enter a unique adventure and have to utilize a host of skills to progress through the story.
Online mystery games can come in many shapes and sizes. Recently teachers have been innovating and creating amazing educational games in order to keep students engaged while doing school from home. Below is a tutorial on how to create an interactive and educational escape room using basic tools like Google Slides.
Online escape games also can take on more sophisticated forms like Unlocked which is a digital only game. Timeout created a list of their top four that include, Crimson Room, Mystery of Time & Space, Baba Yaga & Hogwarts Digital Escape Room.
How companies have taken escape games online
What has helped to make virtual escape rooms immediately popular is that they are highly accessible for users, no matter where they are based. For the participants, all that is required is a computer or smartphone and an internet connection, meaning they do not need to run any special software.
For the companies, a virtual escape game can be as complex or straightforward as required. Some can be held directly through a Zoom call or similar using a game guide, while others, such as the popular live-camera options, need staff to wear a camera to feedback real-time footage to participants.
By switching to a virtual escape game, companies are able to keep their staff employed during these difficult periods. For many, it simply requires some retraining to ensure they are able to curate the adventures online.
Benefits of an online escape game
The lockdown has placed a lot of pressure on people, and anxiety and worry are on the rise. As people look to take their social experiences online, digital escape games help to provide a refreshing change to the fatigue of working from home and the monotony of TV.
A virtual escape game is also able to provide you with a number of additional benefits:
- Team building
Just because your office is closed, it does not mean you cannot enjoy valuable time with your colleagues. Virtual team building escape games help to keep your team connected and working together. The Escape Game offers a very robust team building lineup and can accommodate several hundred players per group because of its large number of real world games.
- Improves communication
Online escape rooms are a great way of helping to boost communication. Social distancing has made it very hard for friends to get together and share experiences, but an online escape game provides a fantastic way of spending virtual time with your friends.
- Keep your brain active
Being stuck at home can make it challenging to keep your mind busy, but taking part in a virtual escape room will help you to develop your problem-solving skills, increase your attention to detail, boost your time-management skills, and enhance your creativity.
With social distancing showing no signs of stopping any time soon, virtual escape rooms are only going to become increasingly more popular and sophisticated. As more escape game companies move online, and customer interest soars, their offering is equally going to become more sophisticated and immersive for users, ensuring they will be around for a long time to come.