Rise of the Augmented Reality Escape Rooms

An escape room, otherwise known as “escape game“. is a real-life team strategy game. The point of this game is to escape the themed room(s) within the given time limit – typically 60 minutes but time may vary with locations. In order to successfully escape, you and you’ll need to find hidden clues and solve puzzles throughout the room that will help you in unlocking the way out.

Augmented Reality Escape Room Scenario

Nothing is out of bounds, so you’ll need to check all of the items within your environment. The key is to communicate the information you’ve found with your team and vice versa. Because of the time restriction, it’s beneficial to collaborate as a team.

If you ever attend an escape room you may get a feeling that you’re playing a strategy escape computer game. This is because the escape room concept is entirely based on this type of video game.

Back in 2014 Jamie Antonisese, a game and narrative designer, summarized the relationship between the player and the game narrative. According to him, the player is performing actions, that influence events in the game’s narrative. The player learns and aims to master a set of rules within a system.

The designed scenario is meant to make you feel as though you are the hero moving the pieces to achieve a final outcome. Avatars in the game including you and your team need to work effectively together to solve the puzzle within the given time.

Augmented Reality in Escape Rooms

As we know, augmented reality allows us to expand and alter the world around us. This works by enhancing physical real world environments via superimposed computer – generated images.

When looked through the augmented reality device these digital images appear to be in the ‘real world’. Of course, they’re still very distinguishable from the real thing because we’re just not quite at indistinguishable photorealism.​

Now you may be getting an understanding of how this comes together with escape rooms. As mentioned before, the escape room aims to hinder the progress of the players by hiding clues throughout the room. Because augmented reality allows us to place things within physical ‘real world’ environments, it’s now possible to create more in-depth puzzles.

How can AR improve the escape room game experience

In most cases, it’s great to have options. No exception here. By creating an augmented experience there are several ways in which users can interact with their environment with greater immersion.

AR glasses/goggles

Magic Leap One AR Glasses could be used to enhance escape room experience.

In this scenario, players can use augmented reality glasses to have a full view of objects within the room. Users would be able to start with the glasses in hand or would have to find the glasses as part of the escape room mission.

This would allow users to view their environment with a full augmented field of view. Additionally, because greater mobility equals more time. These elements work towards more opportunity to pass the escape room.

Smartphones

Phones have the ability to create an AR experience by using the camera. This means players can look for clues with their devices in real-time by pointing the device’s camera wherever the player(s) may think to uncover hidden clues. This is a great way for players to use their devices to interact with the environment.

Smartphne AR can be used to enhance Escape Room Experience.

Here is a list of further possibilities:

  • Scan a map on a wall to discover a hidden clue
  • Scan a picture and see the next puzzle to solve
  • Find a book, open it to a certain page and scan for information regarding the next steps
  • Scan an image with a scrambled text to identify what’s behind it

How can AR impact the Escape Room Experience

1. Staging Famous Stories

I’m willing to bet anyone who’s read or watched Sherlock Holmes has at one point or another imagined themselves at the scene of the crime. AR would offer better depictions of crime scenes staging believable story-lines. Imagine, following the same line of deductive reasoning that Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson used to solve cases.

2. Less Money, More Value

AR offers possibility for more experience with less money

” Although escape rooms are often aesthetically pleasing, they pose a major limitation: the difficulty of varying and multiplying the scenarios. Varying the scenarios requires furniture, objects and numerous installations which retract from profitability. ”

3rd Gamafication & Serious Game Symposium 2019

The above quote from “Augmented Reality For Context Gamification: Escape Rooms As Examples” points out an important fact. Traditional escape rooms either call for a high price or conversely, are underwhelming.

This isn’t to say they’re not good, but to point out the fact that a lot more can be possible by strategically staging 3D representations of objects along with real-world objects. This would allow the designers of the room more freedom to create immersive environments. Furthermore, a lot more can be saved on the purchase and maintenance of physical objects.

3. Increased Safety for Players

In certain escape room games, players begin in the dark and have to find a source of light as part of their mission. If there are any items that may be of potential harm to the players, the company would then be held liable. Creating AR representations of objects that present a hazard to the players is a great way to overcome this.

4. Expanding The Game

If you live in a big city you can appreciate the amount of time, money, and effort it takes for construction projects to run their course. Granted, escape rooms don’t consume nearly as many resources as large constructions projects, but you get the point.

Now imagine offloading much of the surrounding area to an augmented reality program. The result; A larger interactive environment, for a fraction of the cost.

Use Cases for AR Escape Rooms

ROAR Augmented Reality

Lately, we’ve seen a lot of open source content in the software space. Open source refers to something people can modify and share because its design is publicly accessible.

ROAR augmented reality platform provides the necessary tools for escape rooms to create and modify their own AR experiences. It functions as a self-service platform, enabling Video, Audio, Text, Images, 3D view and more.

People often neglect to add software elements to their operation because they believe that they don’t possess the necessary technical ability to pull off the task. This isn’t the case here. The platform has been created for non-technical users (Although they’ll no doubt have developer options for deeper customization).

This means that creating a great AR experience will be simple and easy. In fact, it will take as little as 5-10 minutes to create an AR experience with ROAR. Here’s the best part – creating an AR experience on the ROAR website is free.

Best VR Funny Moments & Fails (2021)
Best VR Funny Moments & Fails (2021)

Once the AR experience has been made and published onto the web, escape rooms will be able to use it to entertain their customers. To do this, it’ll be necessary to download the ROAR augmented reality app on an iPad, tablet or mobile phone. Once the device is provided to visitors they can enjoy the experience!

How will this work?

Once the game begins, players will need to discover images that trigger AR content. When a relevant image is discovered, users will need to tap on the device screen and scan the image. At this point, AR content will be displayed on the screen offering a clue to the next puzzle.

Quest Reality Games

A self-described premium interactive real-life escape room facility located in Victoria BC, Canada offering escape games, Cluetivity: an outdoor GPS-Geocaching, and live-escape games with augmented reality technology.

Scriptum: Fully immersive Augmented Reality​​

Remember that childhood classic “The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe” well, now you can experience can come alive for real ( sort of). You’ve heard a lot about augmented reality at this point… But have you heard about an escape room that takes place entirely in augmented reality?

The name of the game is Scriptum, and it’s a free game with no ads. It’ll take you about 15 minutes to solve the escape room, and you’ll probably do it faster than that. It’s a bit simplistic but it’s only to be expected from something that’s free. We imagine that they’re testing the usability and consumer response to something new. Here is a video to better visualize what an entirely augmented room looks like.



Cluetivity: Mobile Escape Games

Cluetivity is a mobile application with the mission to enable people around the world to play with each other. Cluetivity is currently developing a GPS based outdoor team game which can be played worldwide.

Future of AR Escape Rooms

As time goes on, well have more immersive augmented reality allowing the partition between the physical and the digital worlds to be virtually non-existent. This will mean that we won’t know what’s real and what is augmented and it’ll be amazing. This can mean that we may not only have escape rooms but escape houses, escape buildings and escape towns.

Future of Augmented Reality Escape Rooms

By having the ability to create more matter in our environment, we’ll be able to create bigger and better worlds. A more immersive and thrilling experience could also mean a greater incentive for people to come out and try escape rooms with more enthusiasm. Of course, only time will tell what the future holds for AR escape rooms

Are AR Escape Rooms worth it?

Escape rooms are already a blast and adding a deeper layer of immersion to make the story more believable sounds like a good thing. Besides, if going to an AR escape room helps to keep some money in your pocket then it would seem that AR is something every escape room should begin looking into.

As with all things, you should be the final authority in what you decide to do. However, it would seem that there isn’t a downside to AR escape rooms. This means that if this particular type of game continues to give its fans pleasure AR should continue to occupy the space.


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Martin Rakver

I am a software engineer and tech enthusiast. During my free time, I like to immerse myself in the world of virtual and augmented reality, which I believe will be more and more prominent in the years to come.

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