Motivation. Actors need it to understand their character’s reasoning for a specific action. At any given time, we may need it to determine the importance or gravity of a situation. For example, at some point in your life, you likely weighed the importance of whether or not to run to the restroom or stay and watch all of Avengers: Endgame. If you stayed you chose well. Yes, motivation is important to understand. Especially when it comes to escape rooms.
I’ve Got Your Motivation
How often do you ask yourself, is this worth doing? When entering an escape room, you are likely given a reason, however innocuous or important it may be, as to why you and your group are in this predicament. Since the narrative is one of the more important elements to me personally when playing a room, I wanted to give you a little insight as to why a good narrative can really make a decent room into a great room.
You may think the narrative is the last thing that makes an escape experience awesome. That’s ok because we are all different and unique and special in our own way. Sorry, I thought I saw a rainbow and headed to a “The More You Know” moment. It’s over now.
But take it from me, I have played a wide range of rooms. With narratives that ranged from “go find this thing” (with no other details) to a horror room where the backstory was about a friend that moved to an apartment and disappeared and the objective was to look for her, with clues from a box of personal belongings. In both cases, these starts can be fine. In both cases, the measurement comes down to how immersive the room is based on adherence to the proposed narrative.
Generally speaking, you can find enjoyment in escape experiences in one of two ways. Either the story itself is motivating for you and you find yourself drawn into the presented narrative. Or, the initial bit is not as motivating, but the puzzles and tasks designed to be an extension of the narrative and provide a consistent theme and add to the entertainment value of the experience.
What’s my point? What is the drive behind my writing today? What’s my motivation? It is simply to state that the narrative is so vital to me because I go to escape rooms to be immersed. I try to turn my judgment brain off while playing because that’s not as fun as simply playing. I am a competitive person in some respects but what I really want is a story told to me either by a great setup and atmosphere throughout or by having puzzles that continue to extend the story I am given in the beginning. When those things combine, I become deliriously happy and am prone to fits of squee-ing. Hey, don’t judge me.
In the future when playing, if you haven’t considered it before, think about why you are doing a thing and see if it helps to get you further into the game itself. These rooms can tell some really neat stories if you let them.
Some of my favorite York escape room narratives are found right here at Escape Games Live! The Precinct offers an immersive experience as hired detectives brought in to serve up a steaming hot cup of L.A. Justice to a nefarious criminal. Nefarious because he’s evil. Evil, like, not washing your hands after using the bathroom evil. Or try out the motivation of Sherlock’s Office, where Holmes, the world’s greatest detective, has left behind a series of challenges for Watson (ahem, you) to tackle in one hour or less to prove he is not the “bumbling idiot” that Sherlock still believes him to be.
James is a super nerd that has been playing games at a table or on a screen or with the sanity of others since he was about 6 years old. Some time may or may not have passed since then. James has been hosting Escape Rooms for over two years and also manages both locations for Escape Games Live as the GM. He has also played numerous escape rooms and has learned much through personal experience watching and playing rooms. In his time away from work he enjoys life with his wife and daughter as well as volunteering time with The Bodhana Group, which is a local organization that uses tabletop gaming as a form of adjunct therapy for those in need of their services, helping to develop critical thinking, planning and strategy, social skills and building self-esteem and identity by exploring each individual’s “character”. He is a fan of all things nerd which is good because his name would be a waste otherwise.