Characteristics of games that facilitate immersion can be grouped into two general categories
Those that create a rich mental model of the game environment and those that create consistency between the things in that environment. The theming of the room, the room decor, the puzzles, the narrative, all of it work together to create a believable experience. Almost every escape room has a theme and the theme must be reflected throughout the entire game for a believable experience. This means the props, tasks, and puzzles should all be connected to the narrative and ultimately to what you are trying to convey with your room. Among all the games virtual escape room game have different features. If the puzzles do not connect seamlessly with the rest of the themed experience, then the puzzles will lack context and the players will not engage with them in a meaningful way.
Regardless of the subject matter chosen, themes allow for great creativity on the room designer’s part on how to build a room
Some escape room owners have hired movie set designers to have their rooms as believable as possible. Owners come from a variety of backgrounds. Some are escape room enthusiasts, others are video game designers, and some are from the theme park industry. For example, several owners are from the haunt industry: those involved in creating haunted house attractions. With skills in creating an immersive environment, they can now add a more structured interactive experience based on game design. To even further enhance a player’s involvement, some have employed actors to carry out roles within the escape room. These rooms are similar to the interactive theatre like that of Sleep No More (although with a focus on the game instead of performance). There are many ways to expand upon the richness of the mental model of the escape room environment, far more than we can discuss here.
The Skills Required in an Escape Room
An escape room is a mixture of mental and physical challenges. Rarely is it required for a person to be physically fit or particularly dexterous to complete a room; they do challenge players more mentally than physically. However, escape rooms will try to simulate an experience of being trapped and this may require the use of stairs, ladders, crawl ways or trap doors. Escape rooms are inherently a team-based activity because of the time pressure, the number of puzzles, and the benefit of different minds that don’t think alike. A good escape room will incorporate various puzzles that appeal to different ways of thinking. For example, an escape game may have a handful of math puzzles, some visual puzzles, a word puzzle, and a lot of objects to find. All of the elements ideally come together to form a challenge only a well-balanced team can overcome. On top of that, some puzzles require more than one person to operate. For example, there may be buttons around the room and different people will need to press those puzzles. In the end, a team should be composed of different people with different skills. If a team thinks and acts in the same way, they have less of a chance to escape the room.