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Brief history of 3 escape room generations
(time of reading 5 min)
Escape room business was evolving rapidly during the course of last 3-4 years. Since the industry left its cradle and start spreading all over the world, the whole concept of how perfect escape room should look like changed at least twice. At least three different approaches can be met all over the globe. If you are going to visit a random escape room on vacation, it's usually hard to predict the tech level of the upcoming game, while it may seriously influence your experience.

At first nearly all escape rooms looked and operated similar – they barely had any electronic devices and were incredibly similar to popular "Crimson Room" video game. Those escape room are usually referred to as first generation or gen-1 escape rooms. They share the following attributes at common:

  • Padlocks, codelocks, paper clues and ciphers
  • Lack of electronic devices
  • Puzzles usually barely have a connection with escape room's theme
  • One room with one door (both entrance and exit)
Since the first escape rooms were gathering excitement and only positive reviews, it was quite clear from the very start that industry has lots of space to grow and improve. Those escape room owners who aimed to be ahead of competition started to improve the following aspects of their games:

Decorations
Instead of using a generic office room with a bunch of theme-related items, they leaned on holistic approach, make escape rooms look authentic


Electronic props
Electromagnetic locks, reed switches and RFIDs surpassed the rudimental padlocks and papers, providing an opportunity to widen the choice of available escape room themes.using a generic office room with a bunch of theme-related items, they leaned on holistic approach, make escape rooms look authentic


Space
Pushing 8 people into a 300-sqr-feet room was not a good idea from the very start and those, who started providing more comfortable experience, made a step in the right direction.ic locks, reed switches and RFIDs surpassed the rudimental padlocks and papers, providing an opportunity to widen the choice of available escape room themes.using a generic office room with a bunch of theme-related items, they leaned on holistic approach, make escape rooms look authentic.


Scenario
Since padlocks and codelocks were surpassed the opportunity to change the game's goal appeared. Players were no longer obligated to literally "escape the room", they were given opportunities to achieve more complex goals – rob the bank, investigate a crime or cook a magic potion.
That's how the second generation (gen-2) appeared. It quickly became obvious that escape rooms with electronic puzzles and props are necessary to keep players excited, while using padlocks eventually became a mauve ton.

Lights and sounds quickly became a subject to work on as well. Providing an immersive soundtrack soon became an integral part of good escape room experience, while lights appeared to be a great method for creating wow-effects.
Fact: Since emerging of escape rooms electronics, it quickly became obvious that the next step is controlling and operating an escape room as a whole project, not as a handful of individual puzzles. Two different approaches are currently respected as common for escape room automation and control.
Escape rooms control panel (hardware) provides an escape room game master an opportunity to control the current state of every electronic puzzle and electromagnetic lock through the course of the game and interfere wherever it's necessary (gen-2,5) . It is also useful to display hints. These types of electronic solutions are borderline understandable by any random good electrician, which means escape room owners are able to maintain them rather by themselves or via local labor


Software solutions provide the same functionality (and even some additional one), but are harder to maintain and usually "hand-cuff" an escape room owner with software solution provider. That's the reason why gen-3 escape room technologies are usually perceived as "too much technology" by escape room owners.
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