Ok… I’ve had it. I’m tired of hearing people utter some version of the phrase:
“Room escapes are so new that no one knows the right way to do them.”
This is bullshit.
There are books (plural!) about how to make escape rooms:
Escape the Game: How to Make Puzzles and Escape Rooms by Adam Clare (paperback or Kindle)
How to Open Your Own Room Escape Game by Elisabeth Garson
Facilitating Team-Building Sessions: A Guide for Escape Room and Exit Game Owners by Christy M. Byrd
I cannot vouch for all Christy M. Byrd, but I can tell you that Adam and Elisabeth know their stuff.
There are two freely available white papers specifically about escape rooms:
Scott Nicholson’s (2015) white paper, Peeking behind the locked door: A survey of escape room facilities, is the seminal work on escape rooms.
Markus Wiemker, Errol Elumir, Adam Clare’s (2015) piece titled Escape Room Games: Can you transform an unpleasant situation into a pleasant one?
Blogs & podcasts
Oh man are there blogs. We have over 250 posts on this site alone.
And then there are these fine folks:
- Intervirals (Australia)
- Lock Me If You Can (Australia)
- Toronto Escape Rooms (Canada)
- Room Escape Divas Podcast (Canada)
- Exit Games (United Kingdom)
- The Logic Escapes Me (United Kingdom)
- Really Fun (United Kingdom)
- Escape Room Tips (San Francisco, CA)
There are vibrant Owner, Startup, and Enthusiast communities on Facebook. Each one is searchable. If you have a question, there’s a good chance an extensive thread already exists on the subject.
If a thread doesn’t exist, start up the conversation.
Financials – the big fuzzy
The one bit of knowledge that’s tough to get at is industry-specific financial information.
How well does the average room escape company do? Who knows?
There’s not a ton of information out there; what is available is frequently a bit suspect.
Standing on shoulders
If that’s not enough, then consider this:
Room escapes are a relatively new form of entertainment that is built from pieces of well-established forms of entertainment:
- Puzzle design
- Game design
- Set design
- Sound design
- Mechanical engineering
- Software engineering
- Hardware engineering
- Writing & storytelling
- Editing & proofreading
- Graphic design
- Play testing
On the business side, there’s nothing new. All of the rules of these different professions apply to an escape room business:
- Web design
- Web development
- Real estate
- Contracts & other legalities
- Customer service
- Public relations
- Social media management
Each bullet in the list above represents an entire profession. There are more books on each of these than you’ll ever be able to read… hell, you can go earn a degree in most of them and make a fine living only practicing that one.
So stop making silly statements about the newness of escape rooms. There is a ton of knowledge and wisdom out there that can help you propel your business forward. You have to decide to educate yourself instead of choosing to remain willfully ignorant.
Please, do your research. It will be worth it to you and your players.
Update: There isn’t necessary a right way to design an escape room, but there are lots of wrong ways to do it.
If you purchase via our Amazon links, you will help support Room Escape Artist as we will receive a very small percentage of the sale.
THANK YOU! This, like almost all of your blog posts, was incredibly useful and informative. I am so very thankful that there are people like you who care so much about Escape Rooms and the Escape Room industry and so eager to share this knowledge with the rest of us!
Elizabeth! Why you ship only to US?!?! *shakes fists at the sky*
Regardless, great list guys! Though I would argue with you over “Right” because there are many ways to do them, build them, design them, create them, but there is no RIGHT way to do it.
I didn’t even know I only shipped to the US! I can ship to you guys. Just tell me where you’re located and I’ll figure out shipping.
Wooo! Awesome. I’ll shoot you an email.
Thanks David – went ahead and purchased 3 out of the 4 books you’ve listed.
I own three of these books! (I’ve read one of them). 🙂
Can’t agree more David – the game Myst is super old school now but feels frightening like an escape room.