Escape Room Trends For 2021

2021.08.09.

Since their inception around 20 years ago, the escape room business has been booming across the world. Steaming through 2018 and 2019 many thought that the escape room genre would be unable to dodge the recession. But most businesses managed to stay afloat and come through pretty much unscathed. Nevertheless, in some ways the recession did force owners to rethink their strategies and introduce more innovative approaches to both help reduce cost and attract new players. 

The problems that many owners face is more of a local one, in that once the local marketplace has been used up, then the cost per acquisition per player can be quite high, depending on the source of traffic and information. Also to bring in players it is necessary to constantly be updating and renewing games, their strategies and gameplay. Today we want to have a look at trends that are happening within the brick and mortar escape room industry during 2020 and 2021.

Of course, thanks to the worldwide pandemic of Covid-19, many escape rooms have been forced to close in order to respect social-laws. To that end, either the businesses have gone under or have managed to adapt. Those that were able to quickly think on their feet were able to turn their business around, thanks to embracing new technology. They have not only managed to survive the crisis but actually flourish under it. 

VR Escape Games

Some years ago, when virtual reality technology first appeared on the horizon, there was a boom in the marketplace which was caused by a huge demand following a great deal of publicity. Unfortunately for many people, the promising technology did not live up to the hype. As a result, fast forward a few years, and we find the VR technologies are on the back burner. The programming and the equipment necessary for the VR experience is expensive and cumbersome, and we can’t help but feel that the whole setup is waiting for technology to catch up with it. 

Probably the best own VR game using this technology is Pokémon Go. As you recall, this was a smash hit. One of the winning points about this was that you require no special equipment apart from your smartphone with a camera. Not surprisingly, the escape room gaming industry has been quick to embrace this technology. Right now, you can find many escape room games where VR technology is being used. This creates not only great VR puzzles, but also impresses the vast majority of the players. It spreads great business word-of-mouth, and is a great means of encouraging players to return to play again.

Some escape room games businesses have invested heavily in VR and as a result it's become indispensable to all amongst a certain group of escape room games aficionados. We suggest that one of the most important factors in the use of VR technology is that the game’s puzzles,riddles and clues remain relevant to the game being played. You'll also need to take care about letting players into the escape room carrying a portable phone. 

Total Immersion Escape Games

These are essentially a heady mix of the traditional escape room games, immersive games, role playing computer games, and of course theatre. It It’s a completely non-linear walkthrough, which allows the players the freedom of choice, just as in real life, to solve the consequences of their choices and actions. Normally for immersive games to function well there is a requirement for a whole theatre of trained actors. Their job is to encourage the player to perform certain actions, also to direct them towards puzzles, and even help them solve them on some occasions. The clever part is that the actors are able to do this in such a way that the players have no idea that they are being directed.

Another need for these massive escape games is quite a large space as you have both the players and the actors within the same four walls. As you can imagine, this can work out to be quite expensive for the owner. Having said that, there are some escape rooms where they have been running an immersive room for a number of years, and using a group of the same actors, and yet still managed to turn a very healthy profit. For the best immersive experience it is absolutely essential that you have a simple but thoughtful story which contains a fascinating plot. If you happen to watch the HBO TV series “Westworld”, then you'll have a good idea of what a perfect immersive escape room looks like. This is essentially a giant amusement park with actors, robots, and players.

Gamification And Games in The Learning Process

Right now the use of escape games and gamification is a hot topic, especially in HR and educational sectors. In 2017, educational and training escape room games were a rare phenomenon and even then, very niche. Yet by 2020, they were almost universal. Instead of  dealing with boring textbooks in a classroom situation, it was easier to learn where emotions are involved, along with a competitive experience. Study after study has shown that escape room games for the classroom are an excellent way of teaching, and even students with very poor grades can become interested once again in the school curriculum, thanks to the escape room mental process of find and reward. 

Apart from schools, businesses across many industries have started to take an interest in using escape room games as part and parcel of the whole HR recruiting process. Not only that, but they have been in constant use as a form of team building and a means of helping employees learn to work and operate as one cohesive unit. The University of Minnesota ran a study whereby doctors and nurses needed to solve certain riddles in order to help a sick patient and his family. They found that students are much more willing to work together, and the results lead to real changes for the better of all patients in real hospital critical circumstances across the state.

Portable Escape Rooms

These are also called “pop-up escape rooms” and certainly have a place within the industry. Tot all would be escape room games owners can afford the initial investment necessary to start a proper brick-and-mortar escape room. The portability of the pop up escape room is not that you are carrying it around on your shoulder, but rather that you are able to play the games at the customer's premises, whether that's a house, an apartment, or an office. Of course, there's a huge saving in not having to rent a workplace. In fact, the initial investment towards a pop-up escape room is less than 2 times that of a real escape room. Having said that, the portable escape room will still cost you. Most of these games have costs varying between $4,000 to $5,000. But for this you get a complete ready-to-go escape room with all the puzzles, clues, props,  and electronics. In fact, every possible thing that the player might need is included. 

This of course is a huge win if you can bring your game to the customer. All of these portable escape room games literally fold down flat and for transportation, can be carried in a regular daily passenger car. You can really thank years of escape room design that have led to this trend in creating portable escape rooms. In truth, they work just as well as the real deal and contain a great deal of thoughtful design, which has gone into their manufacture. What’s more, they all are able to give a truly immersive escape room gaming experience, in spite of the fact that they are very small in size.
 

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