How Escape Rooms Become the Puzzles We Love
Escape rooms are the latest group activity growing quickly in popularity. The concept is simple enough, you and some friends get locked in a room, this room houses an assortment of clues, it's up to you to solve the puzzle and escape. If you’ve participated in an escape room you’ve probably asked the question - how exactly did they come up with this?
We did a Q&A session with Josh of The Art of Escape: ICT to find out just what all goes into making an escape room.
Q: How long does it take to create an escape room?
A: A room can take anywhere from one to three months to fully plan. We have a process that starts with idea generation, and carries through construction, to playtesting, and eventually, launch.
Q: How many people does it take to create a room?
A: It is most certainly a group effort. There are four partners that own The Art of Escape: ICT, and we all have individual strengths that we contribute to the room.
Q: What’s a challenging aspect of creating the rooms?
A: Things never look the same from the beginning to the end. What's important to remember is just to ride the wave, and make the experience as amazing as possible.
Q: How many “versions” do you go through before a room is ready to use?
A: The Heist went through about four revisions, and Operation K.E.Y.C.A.R.D three. The room we're working on now, The Trick, is in version 2
Q What does the creative process look like? What are the steps you go through?
A: A lot of time sitting around in a room full of white boards, drawing, planning, sketching, and dreaming. We always start with an idea. From the idea, we move to what we call "necessaries", or the props that make the room believable, and then to puzzle design, and on to finalization.
Q: What’s the “lifespan” of a room? How often do you change them around?
A: Each room we open will be around for about a year. We plan to open a new room every three months, sometimes more frequently when it comes to holiday rooms. The Heist leaves in October of 2017, and Operation K.E.Y.C.A.R.D sometime in First Quarter 2018.
Q: How do you source the items used in your rooms?
A: Anywhere we can! We use everything from Walmart to Amazon to unique retailers around the globe. We always start locally and then branch out from there.
Q: When you reset the room do you have a method to ensure everything is set back the way it should be?
A: Practice and repetition, honestly. We have a guide book as well, that we make in the early stages of a room, but it comes down to muscle memory by the end of the first month.
Q: How long does it take to reset a room?
A:I always make the joke "it takes you guys 60 minutes to tear this room apart, and then we can put it back together in 5", which is less of a joke, and more a true statement. The Heist averages a 6-minute reset, and Operation K.E.Y.C.A.R.D 8 minutes.
Q: What does the “testing” process look like? Do you make changes to the rooms after they’ve launched based on feedback?
A: Testing is the best part. The first time we get players in the room and see reactions, that's always great. We invite certain groups, family members, and partners to try out our rooms, and gauge feedback. Occasionally, leaderboard holders of prior rooms will be invited to beta test, and that's always really great too. The rooms are fairly static, but, occasionally we'll find that a puzzle we designed doesn't work out the way we wanted it to, and we have to cut it and replace it. That happens sometimes, and that's just a part of the process!