Escape Game, puzzles, virtual reality: how does an immersion game take place?

Some wonder. But what drives people to lock themselves in a room to solve puzzles? How did the escape game phenomenon manage to attract a wide audience, well beyond just the usual role-playing game players?

Participating in an escape game is above all about wanting to live a collective experience. Possible in duo, in general the teams are composed of four to five members, sometimes more. The opportunity to test communication, mutual aid, coordination, but above all, according to the players, the opportunity for a unique moment.

It was from 2007 that the first escape games appeared. The principle is simple: solve puzzles and decipher a code allowing the opening of the door, symbol of victory. The first players were passionate about role-playing games and sought, through this new type of game, to experience an even more realistic experience.

Since then, the scenarios have evolved a lot and the investigations have diversified. The phenomenon has affected the whole world and now, we find this type of establishment on all continents. In Europe, for example, Budapest (Hungary) prides itself on being the capital of escape games. Many creators have developed and imagined ever more astonishing investigations by putting players in situations, sometimes in authentic city settings. The model has been emulated and now you can find yourself locked in the sinister basements of Edinburgh (Scotland) just like strolling through medieval times in the corridors of the Château de Commarque (Dordogne).

Immersive worlds and settings

Entering an escape game room means immediately immersing yourself in a universe. You are welcomed by a “master of the game”, costumed or not, who will introduce you to the atmosphere of the game. If you have chosen a scientific scenario, don’t be surprised that a mad scientist opens the door for you. In the different “haunted” rooms of The Hostel (a 100% Bordeaux creation), the butler will guide you to the door of the room where a few surprises await you…

We create everything from A to Z (…) You have to know how to invent stories, a logical scenario while having a whole bunch of things done in a given time. And it has to be fun!

Benjamin Guéri, co-manager of The Hostel Escape Game

at France 3 Aquitaine

Because that is the key to the success of these establishments. The moment must be festive and the game masters are there to guide you and not stumble on overly complicated puzzles. Likewise, to reassure claustrophobic people, it is clearly indicated from the start that it is possible to escape at any time. But going out is synonymous with the end of the game…

The audience is very diverse. Rather young, between 16 and 40, mainly groups of friends or families“, explains Benjamin Guéri. “They are not role-playing enthusiasts as one might imagine, but rather people who want to live a shared experience.“.

Most scenarios require cooperation. You have to know how to listen to your partner, it is often the key to solving all the puzzles. Generally limited to 60 minutes, many players lose track of time, caught up in the story that is lived in real time and in a reality so far removed from everyday life.

Watch the report by Elise Galand and Diidier Bonnet (2019).

video length: 02min 37

Venturing into one of the rooms at this establishment will send shivers down your spine. Some ask for more…

©France 3 Aquitaine

To live such an adventure, it takes between 25 and 30 euros per player, a price that may seem high for an attraction. It is nevertheless a festive moment in a privatized space and 100% outside of reality. Players are generally enchanted by this unique adventure they have just experienced. You can’t do the same escape game twice!

There is now a whole panoply of experiences to live. Giant Cluedo, replica of the Fort Boyard games, Murder Party… If you don’t like the concept of confinement, treasure hunts are organized in certain cities, even in the heart of nature. This is what some game organizers did during the pandemic by offering outdoor puzzle games (example in Corrèze).

Another concept that is gaining growing success: the virtual reality game. As with the traditional escape game, you are transported to another world. Equipped with an augmented reality headset and controllers acting like hands, you are immersed in a parallel universe. The design of the game (close to the video game) allows you to live an adventure in places that even the best decorators. At Virtual Room in Bordeauxyou can find yourself on the Moon with a weightless effect in your gestures or transported to the Jurassic and find yourself facing a roaring T-Rex…

In 2017, we were at the opening of the first rooms.

Since then, new stories have been offered to the public with ever more coordination between the players. In their latest developed project, “Press Start” players are immersed in video games and must fight together to destroy the evil endgame “Boss”.

It was very good, but it passes very quickly! There is more interactivity than in a classic video game. I really liked the narration and the graphics

Justin Cadiou, new Virtual Room player

at France 3 Aquitaine

In the light of the Metaverse, this kind of virtual experience is likely to develop. But the player, being social in essence, will always want to find his congeners to share the moment. Between technical collaboration, common reflection and laughter often guaranteed and in front of the creativity of the designers, escape games have a bright future. You will not escape it!

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Escape Game, puzzles, virtual reality: how does an immersion game take place?

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