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Escape Room Design 101: Understanding Escape Room Game Structure Part 1

In this new series, Escape Room Design 101, we will be exploring multiple areas of escape room design. This time, we will be exploring escape room game structure and how it works.

This way, as you’re learning how to escape from an escape room, you and your teammates will have a better chance of escaping and thus will have a better chance of appreciating them much like traveling to another country or participating in a book club. 

Okay, So How Are Escape Rooms Designed? 

In a nutshell, escape rooms typically follow a traditional “3-Act structure” similar to what a reader (or viewer) may see in literary works and plays. 

The game usually starts slow, then it ramps up in challenge and tasks as the timer ticks down. As you advance, the puzzles get harder and the clock increasingly becomes a limited resource, thereby forcing the players to move (and think) as fast and as efficiently as they can in order to solve the puzzles and escape from the room.

Since escape room design can be complex, today we will only go over the prologue and 1st act. Then next week we will review the other acts. 

Prologue - Setting the Scenario 

This is where you watch a video explaining your “predicament” and setting your main goal for escaping the room.

While not a true phase of an escape room, this is still important because it gives you hints as to how to escape the room. So it’s worth paying attention to the video, if you can or (if possible) watch it prior to playing the game. 

Here at Escapology, because we want each of our patrons to have a chance to get to know our games themselves, we listed the scenarios for each of our four games right here: Antidote, Budapest Express, Shanghaied, and Cuban Crisis

So if you and your teammates want to have a better chance of winning, either click here or on any of the links to our four following games.  

Act 1 - Getting to Know Your Goals and Clues

**Now for fun, let’s create a scenario that way we won’t spoil any actual Escapeology games** 
For this example, let’s say that you and your teammates are playing an Egyptian themed game that involves escaping from Queen Nefertiti's tomb.

You and your teammates find out while watching the video that the queen has a fondness for servants who can pass the trials of the gods. She won’t let you escape if you don’t get into the god's good graces and find their artifacts in time. 

Now it’s a matter of searching for the artifacts of the egyptian gods so you can escape the room in time before you perish in her tomb forever...This should give you a clue as to what you should begin searching for, by the way. 

In the first portion of the escape room, you typically only have access in the big main room. This is considered your “hub” and will be where you will eventually find the code needed to escape the room and get to know the puzzles and pieces needed to solve them.

Your main goal here is to find the right clue or solve the right puzzle so that you can open up the second section of the room and eventually be able to solve all of the puzzles needed to escape. 

Usually, the puzzles aren’t too difficult to solve in this section. 

Your secondary goal is to determine what is to be collected in order to solve the final puzzle and escape the room. The final code is locked behind a “collect-a-thon” puzzle, which requires you to combine five to seven pieces of whatever objects you need in order to solve the final puzzle. 

In our Queen Nefertiti scenario, that would be 5 hieroglyphics, which will be used with the final puzzle so you can escape the room! 

At Escapeology, our rooms have clips for you to store these clues since it’s important to not misplace them!

All Wrapped Up

We don’t want you to be bogged down with too much info since this can be a lot to absorb. So like with any great story, it’s more fun with a cliffhanger involved…

So join us next week as we go over part 2! Until then, let us know what you think about our tips thus far on social media.