Dreams of building real-life escape game
For those who haven’t noticed, real-life room escape games (
) have recently risen to become a popular pastime among people who enjoy mystery and adventure.
The physical adventure sees a group of participants locked up in a room where they have to use clues they discover to solve a series of puzzles and ultimately escape from the room within a set time limit.
Such games are originally based on popular “escape the room” video games in which a solitary player is locked inside a room and must explore the surroundings in order to escape.
They originated as video games, but since then people around the world have been building real-life escape games in fixed locations in the United States, Europe and Japan, among other countries, so that people can enjoy real-life adventures in person.
So too in Taiwan. Adventures that combine elements from adventure board games and movies have also seen rising popularity after they were introduced to the country from nearby Japan several years ago.
With rising demand over the past two to three years, more companies, especially in the Greater Taipei region, have been building real-life escape games in fixed locations in Taiwan.
There are currently around 50 such facilities in Taipei and New Taipei alone, proving their popularity among youngsters.
Joining the highly competitive new business is a group of four young men who only recently opened their new gaming facility in New Taipei.
Competing with other already established real-life escape games, the four men in their early 30s pledged to offer a one-of-its-kind interactive adventure experience to customers.
”We are presenting a very different movie-like experience to players so that they can enjoy 70 minutes of a unique interactive adventure they will never forget,” said Peter Pan ( ), executive director of the Infinite Company ( ).
Joint Venture with College
Speaking to The China Post during a recent interview, Pan said he has always been a big fan of adventure theme parks such as Universal Studio.
His love for adventure was also why he chose to major in multimedia and game science back in his college days, a relatively new and unique department that teaches its students how to design computer games.
Instead of becoming a game designer, Pan, took a job as an insurance clerk after graduation. He, however, never forgot his dream and passion for mystery and adventure.
Pan regained his love and passion for adventure and has fallen deeply in love with real-life experiences following his first encounter with real-life room-escape games two years ago in Taiwan, when he joined in playing the games with his friends.
As a multimedia and game science major, however, he found that many of these games on the market have much room for improvement.
”My friends and I have found that many of these real-life roomescape games only allow participants to sit in a room solving puzzles and riddles but lack more sophisticated room design,” he noted.
He believed that he could do a better job if he could work with his college buddies to come up with better special effects, gadgets and props to create a more convincing environment that would make game participants believe they were actually living in a movie.
With the money he saved during his eight years as an insurance clerk and some money he managed to raise from friends, Pan, together with three of his college classmates, Clive Hung (
), Angus Ko, ( ) and Gavin Wang ( ), together founded Infinite Company.
Each of his three friends brought a different expertise: Hung was responsible for coming up with the backstory for their game Wang was responsible for the woodwork and design of the gaming space and Ko was the technician in charge of building the gadgets, props and automation, as well as the electronics of the game.
It took them some time to find a spacious 100-ping basement in New Taipei’s Xinzhuang District to serve as the locale for their game and it took several months more to finish the design and the construction of their real-life escape game.
They also came up with the backstory for the game: the story revolves around a special operations unit which they named the 7th Squadron ( ).
The story is about Dr. W, a member of the squadron, who suspects that there is a mole in the squadron after one of the squadron members was killed during a previous mission.
He left clues in his house so that other squadron members can find out who the mole is.
The players of the game act as members of the squadron who are solving a series of puzzles and finding clues, to discover the identity of the mole and escape the room within 70 minutes.
Build Unique Gaming Experience with Expertise
To come up with a unique, never-before-seen gaming experience to go with the backstory, Pan and the team built their own designs, with participants having to solve puzzles in four different scenes before they can finally escape.
Utilizing their professional training in multimedia and game design, the team set up unique lighting and props such as electronics hiding in the walls.
They even built their own sensors for motion detection, meaning certain movements in the space are capable of unlocking new elements of the room.
The unique designs have cost them around NT$3 million, almost double their original estimation.
”We want to create a world that is full of surprise and different from others, and we want our customers to feel that we have put all our heart into the game,” he said.
Their money is well-spent, as since opening to the public in March, around 400 to 500 people have already paid to play the game.
Pan said he has received mostly favorable and positive responses from these participants. Only around 30 percent of them have successfully solved all the puzzles and left the room within 70 minutes.
“We feel most satisfied when we hear people playing the game say ‘how did they do that?’ ‘How did them come up with these props, they are amazing!’” Pan said.
Looking forward to the future, Pan said they are brainstorming a new backstory and if everything goes well, they could open another new gaming experience next year.
His ultimate dream is to open a Universal Studios-like real-life room-escape game theme park in Taiwan where people can visit and enjoy a one-stop gaming experience where they can find many different such games in one big amusement park.
(Top) From left: Angus Ko, ( ), Gavin Wang ( ), Clive Hung ( ), and Peter Pan ( ) pose for a photograph in front of the entrance to their reallife room-escape game in New Taipei City.
(Above) A view of a room in the “7th Squadron” (
) room-escape game.