When we first started it was a straightforward concept to communicate to escape enthusiasts what we offered: The latest generation of escape rooms.
Which is a roundabout way of saying a whole bunch of nothing.
Let me explain.
Escape rooms can be broken down into 4 different “generations” (but no one really agrees on the definitions anyway).
Typically no story, hardly any electronic components (if any). Overall it’s a “lock-hunt”. Very few of these rooms have survived through the years, and any new Gen-1 room gets viewed under a critical lens.
Some story components and electronics included, maybe even some effort put into the set. Most common generation
Heavy reliance on electronics and automation. Mostly common now
Augmented and virtual reality environments. This is the least common.
Does a room being a certain generation make it good?
No. I’ve played many Gen-1 rooms and had a blast with it. When done right any Gen can be awesome.
Take my heavily biased look at video games: just because a game has stellar graphics that does not mean it’s a good game.
After we opened with two Gen-2 rooms we were excited to clamor over a new Gen 3 room. The first two games took about 2 months combined to make, and the next one took 6 months alone.
Our Next-Gen Room
We opened up King’s Keep, set to be our new flagship game to put us on the map!
To our pleasant surprise players loved what seemed like everything about the room.
From the painstakingly painted floors, to the dungeon-cobbled walls players loved the set!
From the use of electronics in a way many haven’t seen before at a local escape room, players were delighted!
And finally the story… Many players aren’t used to there being something more to the story other than a quick video at the start of the experience.
There are a few unexpected tricks and changes to the story that attentive players will catch, and for the others that don’t care, they aren’t forced to know every little detail to win!
While there was a lot that players loved about the room, none of them commented how it was “the best Gen 3 room they have ever played!”
The Next-Generation of Escape Rooms focus on Storytelling.
While it’s a little disheartening, I realized that players were still saying how the room “really felt like a Next-Gen room.”
Even though that wasn’t my goal, it’s still really cool that players can feel that way about a Fresno escape room.
Next-Gen no longer really refers to the particular generation of rooms.
Now it’s a focus on the experience as a whole, and the top two compliments we received for our rooms is the amazing sets and the amazing stories.
The next generation of escape rooms doesn’t come with better or more complicated technology.
Thanks for reading!
In an upcoming article I will be writing about those storytelling strategies that have worked for us.
In the meantime, you may want to read up on our article about the game design for the room after King's Keep, CEREBRAL.