Stepping through into another dimension is easy, but can you get out in time?
It’s always interesting to see what types of games become popular as a relativaly new platform continues to expand. And it’s often not what you’d expect. Even as AAA graphics and high-speed Internet access on smart devices became ubiquitous, it was relatively simple games like FarmVille, Candy Crush, and Angry Birds that would eventually steal the show, glueing millions of people to their screens.
With immersive technology, there’s now a dizzying array of creative experimentation going on, and it’s fair to say we’ve barely scratched the surface. One of the ways you can tell this is true is by spotting how many developers claim their project is the first of its kind.
Such is the case with Scriptum, a bold new smartphone app that uses AR technology to transform the real-world into a digital escape room. For those not familiar with the concept, an escape room is a location-based experience where a group of people – family, friends, colleagues – go to role play and solve interactive puzzles as part of a narrative adventure, typically lasting around an hour, depending on your skills.
Unsurprisingly, the concept first originated in Japan, but over the past few years it has gained massive popularity around the world. The U.S. has seen what can only be described as a boom in this sector, which has grown from 22 companies to over 2,000 in the past four years. One of the most successful of those, Mission Escape Games, says it attracted 140,000 visitors in 2017.
“Escape rooms are becoming more popular around the world, and Scriptum is a mystery puzzle game that capitalizes on that trend and uses AR to recreate that. You have to find all the clues, and reach the exit through the portal in less than 15 minutes,” explains Alex Balcells, CEO at Adver2Play, the Barcelona-based company which developed Scriptum. “There might be other detective games out there, but Scriptum is the first app to put you inside of a real Escape Room.”
To start the game, you simply scan the floor of the room in which you’re standing and step through the portal as it appears. Then, of course, comes the tricky part of having to puzzle your way out of that room as quickly as possible by collecting clues and figuring out the puzzles.
The core concept is essentially very simple, but as is often the case, the proof of the pudding is in the execution. If people are engaged with the puzzles enough, they’re more likely to buy into their digital world, and the experience will gel. According to Balcells, this is exactly what they’ve seen since launching Scriptum, adding that they’re very encouraged by the high levels of interest the app generated so far.
Scriptum is currently available to download on Google play and iTunes for free, but there is no doubt that a very attractive commercial market for a product such as this exists. Real-life escape rooms are often fully booked, specially during weekends, and can generate hundreds of thousands in revenue depending on their popularity.
Since the whole concept hinges on merging fantasy and real-world elements, it would certainly seem like a natural fit for AR. Could it become the mediums killer “sticky” app though? Only time will tell. In the meantime, good luck getting back to the real world.