In this week’s class, we were to play 3 escape room games from the website, 365escape.com. I always loved escape rooms, especially in real life, because it makes you and another group of people try and solve problems logically and intuitively in a fun way without making it seem educational. “Virtual escape rooms generally require the user to locate hidden objects by clicking within the environment and, occasionally, combining these objects to solve a puzzle. In a real-life escape room, a group of players is “locked” in a room and work as a team to find hidden objects that are used to solve puzzles in order to “escape” the room.” (Wolph, Gray, Pool, 2018). I always felt that escape rooms are things that are best suited to real life experiences only. Because you miss a key part, being able to touch and look at things [in-person] (something that virtual games lack) because in all escape rooms, you literally get no introduction in what you’re trying to get out of. But through this online experience, I could definitely see where the virtual escape room may give a solid “escape” experience behind them.
I played three games in total, being: Rescue The Puppies, Save The Joker, and Beach House. Of all 3 games, the one that I favored the most was, Beach House.
One of the biggest reasons was that the clues were visible, the puzzles were relatively easy, and it was straightforward (but difficult enough where I could stand through each page for minutes at a time to think about what is next). I feel like this puzzle/room escape game gave me the most satisfaction because of the way it followed the “13 rules for escape room puzzle design” as mentioned by https://thecodex.ca/13-rules-for-escape-room-puzzle-design/. The Beach House game had fair puzzles because I would never have a punishment for a wrong answer. It would simply do nothing and I had unlimited attempts at finding the correct answer. For instance, it took me several tries to find the answer to the clock riddle. But the biggest thing that this puzzle had, compared to the others that I played, was that it had clues to where the next puzzle would be. These clues were in the form of a riddle, or a clickable picture (you would know the picture, because it seemed a bit out of place from the setting). Every other puzzle game I played had such ambiguity to them; I wouldn’t know how to go about playing the game, or there were so many puzzles within one slide that it would be almost impossible to solve without the guide of a walkthrough.
I also feel like this puzzle also follows the rules of a regular escape room puzzle experience which can give satisfaction to anyone who plays it. For example, after figuring out all of the riddles in this Beach House game, you were awarded with an animal figure and a number that goes along with each figure. In the end, you had to go into a room that was locked with a number keypad. You had to use the numbers given with each animal, in their exact order, to unlock that door. “Smaller puzzles can converge to a single larger puzzle by requiring their answers to be combined to form a single password.” (Williams, 2018). All of these “smaller” riddles and puzzles immediately formed into the password to escape the room. The satisfaction of being able to solve the game with the answers from the small riddles gave me the complete satisfaction and experience of an escape room.
In all, I definitely had a fascinating and fun time while playing these games. It was definitely eye-opening into how a virtual escape room works. You pretty much click on anything and see where it takes you. But why would these escape rooms be taught in our class? What would it teach us? How is it connected to being a “serious game”? Well, Zara Stone (2016) states in her article, “Escape rooms create a moment of passion around specific topics that then can be used as the spark to then ignite interest in something for a player to learn more about later… [They can] excite learners and help develop their skills, teaching them content through immersive, engaging play”. Though the games we played didn’t really give any historical insight on a topic, I definitely believe that you can weave different riddles to make students learn about a certain subject. These types of games can give a fun outlet into learning about an educational topic and can promote certain problem-solving skills which students would use in the future.
Williams, P. (2018, March). Using escape room-like puzzles to teach undergraduate students effective and efficient group process skills. In 2018 IEEE Integrated STEM Education Conference (ISEC) (pp. 254-257). IEEE.
Coffman-Wolph, S., Gray, K., & Pool, M. (2018). Designing an Escape Room Game to Develop Problem Solving and Spatial Reasoning Skills.
Stone, Z. (2016, July 28). Why Teachers Are Asking Students to Escape From the Classroom. Retrieved from https://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2016/07/the-rise-of-educational-escape-rooms/493316/