The importance of the well-known curfew and general social distancing introduced to curb the COVID-19 epidemic is indisputable. The economic crisis that arose because of this is being handled inventively by representatives of restaurants and other heavily affected businesses in a thousand different ways, e.g. they are trying to avoid it by starting webshops and creating a home delivery system, or at least mitigate it as much as possible. Escape rooms around the world also found themselves in a similar situation, as they could not host teams, so they practically had to close.
The idea of the online escape room came about in this difficult situation (or it already existed before, but because of this it started to spread). This works so that the teams can play the game individually from the comfort and safety of their homes, logging in from their own laptops and phones. The game master is the only one on site, so he is the eyes, ears and hands of the players. It shows the room to the players through a camera, and they try to solve the room based on these, with the help of the instructions given to the game master. The whole thing should be imagined as a group video chat conversation, but on a platform where the whole center is the camera image transmitted by the game master and occasionally a document related to the game.
What kind of escape rooms can be imagined in an online version?
Basically, we distinguish between two types of escape rooms: the old classic rooms and the new generation rooms. Classic rooms feature padlocks, locks and keys; logical, search and skill tasks. New-generation rooms are characterized by magnetic locks, hidden remote controls (e.g.: magic wand), proxies, and gaming elements that basically require programming and electronic solutions, displays, sensors, etc. Of course, it is rare that an escape room only works with one or the other elements, most of the time it consists of a mixture of the two.
Of these, the online escape room focuses more on more thoughtful, logic-based tasks, since only the game master is on site. Thus, for example, a skill task would not provide the team with any sense of success, since they would only watch the game master perform what he has surely done a thousand times. Quest tasks are not very enjoyable in this format either, also for the previous reasons.
This leaves various code-breaking, logic and association tasks, which provides a more classic, lock-key-code escape room experience. On the other hand, the fact that we can send documents, images and videos to the team via the online platform adds an interesting new layer to the game, which is worth experimenting with and can bring something new and fresh to the toolbox of the classic rooms.
Where did the online solution come from?
The escape room is a legendary Hungarian invention, so it is no wonder that the first online interface came from a Hungarian company. Exit The Room created the EveryEscapeRoom collection site, through which the entire system works. In addition, any escape room owner can sign up, request connection and use the platform, all for free, which is a huge help - and not a small act of kindness - on their part.
According to their own description:
"With the Remote Escape Room solution, we offer friends, families and colleagues a social activity that can be enjoyed from the safety of the home - Gábor Rétfalvi, the owner of Exit The Room, described the development, adding that it is possible to organize a joint program even during quarantine. As he explained, the idea allows several generations of the family to meet for an enjoyable game, but it is also possible to hold a team building event for workers exiled to the home office.
In addition, it is very important that we can create jobs again for the game masters sent on forced leave. This means the saving of thousands of jobs in such a large industry and the livelihood of countless families around the world, he emphasized. We do not keep our solution and the software developed for it to ourselves, we offer it to all escape room operators free of charge.
The escape room aggregator EveryEscapeRoom helps us bring this revolutionary solution to escape rooms in trouble around the world. We hope it will arrive in time to save many from bankruptcy. All we ask of the operators is that they donate part of the income earned in this way to the fight against the coronavirus - we do the same. "