Augmented Reality (AR) in gaming is not a new concept. The success of Pokemon Go, beside the Pokemon theme, is attributed by this technology. Before the game was launched, it had created a buzz about this technology and during its first day of official launch, millions of users downloaded the game because of the curiosity about AR.
As much as people were hyped about firsthand AR experience in Pokemon Go, it was quickly gone in a few days. As the main action of the game is to catch Pokemons and you need to catch hundreds of them, AR becomes less valuable as it does not contribute much to the game play, if not to drain the battery faster and slower the Pokemon catching process. AR was successfully used as a tech-gimmick to bring people to the app store and download the game, rather than giving a great playing experience.
Same thing is happening in Escape Room industry. People are talking about AR and VR (virtual reality). But the challenge for AR in escape room is that if all it can do is to show a 3D object from a surface, then its application will be limited. Though it looks interesting at first sight when players scan a marker and a 3D object pop up, its “wow” effect will be diminishing during the course of the game if the same thing is repeated in every puzzle. At this juncture, what we think of the best application of AR on escape room is to use it as part of the game decoration and part of the game puzzle, for example:
1. Stick a few markers on the wall, floor, ceiling, etc. as the decoration: players can see 3D objects when they use AR. This will help enhance the theme of escape room.
2. A small part of escape room uses AR, instead of the entire game: so that players do not get bored with the AR repetition.
Having said that, AR is a future technology for escape rooms. The mission here is to extend the features of AR beyond merely showing of 3D object. AR should allow players to have real interactions with the AR object, such as use hand to touch, move, lift the AR object from one place to another place. If AR object is a trunk, when players use a real key to open, the system is able to detect the real key and then open the trunk. At BuildXcape, this is what we are developing.
What do you think about AR as the future technology for escape rooms? If you think what AR should have to improve player’s game experience, feel free to share in the comment.