Are Escape Games just boring now? What is an Escape Quest? Would someone really like one and not the other, or do they serve the same client?
Some critics say that the Escape Room era came with the creative force of a hurricane but peaked and is done. Like any industry, the newness of the concept often rushes a population and becomes the main draw. Novelty does drive people to an entertainment venue, but truly it cannot sustain it. Typically a market becomes aware of a product, spinoff designs of that product appear, and eventually the market is saturated. Traditionally, the product Escape Rooms offer is often a one-time narrative that customers experience as entertainment — it is best to view it similar to a movie at the theaters. Customers ask themselves, “Is this worth the money to see and experience it with my friends in their venue, or are there alternatives?” One would think that because there are endless narratives an Escape Room can embrace and design for, it seems there should always be adventure to be had as long as the location continues to update and expand what they offer. In other words, there should always be newness. But in reality, people become bored with the concept and it has to evolve like any industry. The very idea of being, “trapped”, and having teams “beat the clock”, “or else” — insert catastrophe here is played out in most markets. People feel like they have already done this enough to not be thrilled by it anymore, even when the plot has changed significantly. So the industry is adjusting to the demand, some rooms are closing, while others are leading the way toward something called Escape Quests.
Escape Quests don’t solve the entertainment problem by providing a newer, faster, more thrilling ride. Unlike roller coasters there aren’t barriers to surpass like these. Escape Quests offer a new structure and purpose to the “escape game” genre. Successful room owners are realizing they don’t just need new lock sequences, better sensors in furniture, and higher quality set design. Many of the tech fans in the industry hoped that we could finally adopt augmented or virtual reality devices to make rooms better. But that still seems out of reach at the moment. The turn has instead taken a structured one. It seems for now, the next step in “escape game” evolution is multi-track gaming experiences. Escape Quests are exactly that! This design requires a different view of the game from the onset. While Escape Games typically focus on the objective: “escape in time”, Escape Quests are creating mileposts and objectives to complete, and in some cases participants aren’t trapped at all or told they cannot freely leave the room. The focus is now less on “getting out” and more on achieving victory in various storyline challenges. For example, instead of “escape the zombie in the room in 60 minutes or he will eat you”, changes to “cultivate a cure using items in the room, distract the zombie, inoculate it, obtain information from it after “healing” and then begin finding the culprit that began the worldwide viral infection”. The difference is astounding because the objective is no longer to rush, it is to be accurate, organized, and confident in your team choices. Escape quests don’t just offer single track objectives either.
We are getting reports (a state-away) from enthusiasts that cannot stop raving about the newly designed Escape Quest at The Escape Experience in Chattanooga, TN. Quite honestly, this isn’t the first we have heard about this remarkable location. Our experience there in February this year remains our absolute favorite! We consider them a great referral and always look forward to their updates. But reports of their newest room with a “fallout” theme has truly set them as industry leaders! Apparently participants are forced to choose one of two tracks in the game almost immediately in the game. The gameplay is then tailored to the track they chose. Not only does this make the gameplay unique and offer replay ability, it brings objectives within the game to the forefront. The gamer’s choices drive the narrative, puzzle selection, and ultimately change the outcome of the game. With clear objectives that serve the choices the participant makes, the Quest notion is brought to the forefront. When you think about it, people love choices, and choices that matter — so consider Escape Quests the “Expansion-Pack” you always wanted for interactive gaming experiences!