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Online escape game as a powerful learning solution.

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Since the Netherlands’ first physical escaperoom opened its doors in 2013, they have sprung up like mushrooms. From corporate outings to bachelorette parties, many puzzled their way out of a physical space. Meanwhile, escaping is far from being the main goal. This is why we refer to it as an “escape game”. A game format that can also serve as an excellent strong learning intervention. In this blog, you’ll read how.

Digitally, the concept of escape games has been around for a long time. In many video games, puzzles and riddles take center stage and the player must solve them to complete the game. This concept is increasingly being used as a learning intervention; an educational escape game. Even at inBrain, we have already had the opportunity to develop this form of learning for several clients and have seen firsthand the positive impact of an online escape game on learning.

Why an online escape game?

An escape game is a (group) activity with a theme or storyline, in which players solve puzzles and tasks within a predetermined time, alone or in a group. That’s a nice challenge. To complete the game, players work together in their hunt for the solutions, look for clues and connections, and can ask for tips if they can’t figure this out.

Players of an escape game step into a staged context. This is often based on the theme or storyline, but at the same time is a safe and defined environment. In this way players are given the opportunity to explore and learn without consequences.

The game context can be an environment similar to the work practice or distant from it. The puzzles and tasks in the escape game can also match or differ from challenges that players face in reality. That wide variety of possibilities makes an escape game broadly applicable as a learning intervention. Consider, for example, taking assessments, teaching or introducing new knowledge/skills and putting lesson material into practice.

Safe learning environment

The online escape game offers a player a safe environment where he or she can make mistakes without real-world consequences. Safely and with impunity experiment with different behaviors or roles. This literal escape from reality contributes immensely to players’ intrinsic motivation. Getting away from everything that is a ”must.” And meanwhile, the deeper message does have real-world relevance.

An example: the player takes the role of a hacker who must get into various systems as quickly as possible. Thus, the player discovers why his or her organization has a specific code of conduct for working with these systems.

Here’s how to make an online escape game a success

As with any learning solution, an educational escape game is successful when players achieve the predetermined learning objectives. But how do you get that done? These are the key ingredients:

  • Make sure the goal is clear to the players as soon as possible. To keep the main goal manageable, it makes sense
    To divide them into smaller intermediate goals. Thus, the player experiences progress; and thus success. This experience of success contributes to intrinsic motivation.
  • The storyline largely determines how players experience the game and increases player engagement and curiosity. The more engaged a player feels, the higher the cognitive processing of the game content is. A good storyline piques players’ interest motivates them to start, stay engaged and finish the game. Whether you have a fictional or realistic storyline, both are useful for remembering the message behind the game. The storyline gives learning a framework and provides a coherent set of game rules, characters and tasks.
  • Puzzles and assignments are mainly the concrete challenges within an escape game. They encourage a strategic, problem-solving attitude and stimulate curiosity. Each puzzle immediately serves as feedback. Making mistakes provides insights and makes players think about strategy and how to adjust it.
  • Of course, game design is also an indispensable link. After all, this visualizes the story. This is not just about the look and feel, but also about interaction design: can a player move intuitively through the game? The storyline and design support and complement each other. Crucial to the optimal experience of the game.
  • An online escape game appeals to multiple senses, such as sight and sound. The use of multimedia encourages this. Anything is possible: video, sound effects, voice-overs, animations, GIFs. By engaging multiple senses, you promote long-term retention of learning because various parts of the brain are engaged.

Experiencing it yourself? Click the button to start the inBrain online escape game.

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