As escape game centres seem to be flourishing in cities, escape games are also more and more implemented in museums – just as other game mechanics are. But how are museums relevant to build their own and what can they bring that other venues cannot?
What is an escape game?
It is a room in which a team of usually 2 to 6 people is locked and needs to solve a series of riddle to get out. They are often built in dedicated game centres, and players are immersed in different settings and atmospheres with strong storytelling features.
Museums obviously have a huge card in escape games: They are full of stories and setting up an escape game is a way to build an immersive experience around their story. While experiences like Meet Vincent by the Van Gogh Museum give visitors a choice to be involved or not, an escape game leaves no choice. Visitors know what they sign up for: a room in which they will explore, touch everything and become part of the story. In museum, escape games are a new way for museum to tell their story in a playful way, with an experience at the crossroads of fun and giving a superficial but engaging approach of a subject.
The fun factor definitely attracts new audiences and provides them with a strongly engaging experience as soon as they come in contact with the museum. Museums like the Villa Mondriaan have understood it and created escape rooms outside of their museum by partnering with local escape game experts. The room satisfies both Mondriaan newbies and players that already know the subject thanks to actual storytelling with a scientific and historical context – just as in the Augusta Museum of History, where players turn into detective looking for a KGB spy. As escape games require a compelling storyline to create strong emotions, some museums like the Niagara Military Museum even choose to work with Dramatic Arts and Interactive Arts and Science students.
Maybe a long-term escape game is not for every museum. But whether it is linked to a temporary exhibition or be set in stone, a museum escape game will attract a wide range of players thanks to the rewarding mix of playing and learning about the museum’s matter!