When it comes to immersive experiences, they don’t come more all-encompassing than an escape room – a trend that has swept the world in the past few years. So, when we were asked to design the game technology for The Comms Room, a brand new escape game located within Canterbury’s Westgate Towers Museum, we leapt at the opportunity. The concept was inspired by the historic space itself: an original communications room from WWII, ‘The Comms Room’ would see players take on the role of an air raid warden helping to defend the city from invasion and identify an unknown traitor in their midst. Our job was to imagine the most creative ways to animate the room, bringing the story and experience to life for players.
The excitement of an escape room relies on creating a highly theatrical environment through interactive tasks, lighting and sound, so we worked closely with Stephen Allen, the museum’s designer, to imagine the most ambitious gameplay possible and create a fully immersive experience.
This involved developing a custom software and hardware solution to ensure the multiple elements of the game communicated with one another on cue, progressing the storyline and following the complex dramatic narrative seamlessly. We also created a simple interface for the games master to operate, enabling them to oversee gameplay from a tablet device outside the room.
A key challenge this project posed was how to work effectively and safely within a listed building. Westgate Towers dates back to 1380 and is one of the UK’s finest surviving medieval gateways, so throughout the build we had to ensure that none of our installations affected the fabric of the building. The result is a highly technical, modern escape game set within the atmospheric surrounds of a Grade-I listed structure, marrying adventure and education in one action-packed hour.
Happily, we’re not the only ones who think the resulting game is brilliant fun. Since its launch, alongside a five-star rating on TripAdvisor, The Comms Room has been named one of the best escape rooms in Britain by The Guardian, while London-based escape room blog The Logic Escapes Me names it among its top picks.
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