It’s the middle of March 2019, and I’ve got this idea that I can’t shake. Wouldn’t it be fun to be locked in a small box, and only allowed out after solving a series of puzzles? I mean, of course it wouldn’t be fun, what with the debilitating dread and claustrophobia, but it would certainly be a unique playable experience that would stick with participants after they’ve escaped.
The idea came to me after watching Kill Bill Vol. 2. I’m thinking of the coffin escape scene in which The Bride is trapped in a wooden coffin by Michael Madsen’s character and left to die. The film uses close camera angles and natural torchlight to extinguish any idea that this is just a film; as a viewer you feel the anguish of The Bride’s struggle, you imagine yourself in a similar scenario, and it is simultaneously thrilling to think of the number of ingenious ways you’d escape, and terrifying to consider the consequences of failing to escape.
I’m really interested in experimenting with stress as a mechanic; how does debilitating dread affect a player’s ability to solve complex puzzles? The problem I have with modern escape rooms is that they are far too relaxed. They’ve become a party experience that groups of middle-class millennials do before drinks, or that corporate bigwigs attend as team building exercises. There are no stakes attached to failure. The ‘we escaped’ photos taken at the aftermath of the experience are a sad indictment of what escape rooms have become; a experience driven by social media, for social media.
I want to strip users of their phones and lock them in a box with only a torch and their own ingenuity. I don’t want people to finish the game and be giggling and merry and ready for a selfie; I want participants to emerge haggard, almost aged by the experience, but also triumphant, proud of navigating a game that is both physically and mentally taxing.
The Subject may not necessarily be fun in the traditional sense, but it will certainly be memorable. I’m looking forward to doing further work on this idea and seeing if I can make a game out of it.
…Setting an escape room in a small box would also make it the smallest escape room in the world, which is always a nice accolade to have for marketing purposes.