escape rooms Calgary - lighting in escape rooms

The Importance of Lighting in Escape Rooms

Hello fellow adventurers! Welcome back to the Arcadian: the premier blog about all things for Calgary escape rooms! Today, let’s talk about lighting and how they impact someone playing a puzzle room!

Have you wondered why video games of today look so much better than those of the early 2000s? In fact, many games with basic modelling, textures and even animations age exceptionally well due to the effective usage of lighting.

Lighting and Game Design

In the early days of game design, lighting was flat, as if everything took place in a well lit office building. As game engines improved, alongside the hardware that ran them, so did the lighting that was available to a developer. Light was baked into scenes to add realism. Volumetric lighting allowed light to bounce of surfaces and let environments look even better. Ray tracing allowed for rays of light to be simulated individually, resulting in incredible life like scenes afforded by modern day engines such as Unreal Engine 5.

Dynamic Lighting from Unreal Engine 5 Tech Demo

In the same manner of video games, the lighting in real life as plays a huge role in setting the mood of a location. Be it the sterile clean environment of a hospital. The cozy, warm atmosphere of a restaurant. Or the boldness of nightclub settings. The correct lighting can set the stage for an environment more-so than the design of the environment itself.

Puzzle Rooms and Lighting

All this can be be applied when it comes to the design of an escape room. While puzzle gameplay and set design is important, the correct lighting will do wonders in elevating a player’s immersion and wonderment while they are inside a locked room.

Take for example the setting of zombie research lab. Typical design will blackout the room completely; relying just on flashlights and the players imagination to set the mood. But with the addition of a few choice lighting details, immersion can be greatly increased. A locked booth with a dirty window in the corner will invoke curiosity but little else, until opening the door becomes the next objective. But if a flickering bulb is placed inside, all of a sudden the player feels anxiety, noticing it in the corner of their eye and wondering if a shadow will appear at some point. The addition of light source has aided in the thematic design and immersion of room.

escape rooms Calgary - lighting
Lighting the entrance to a Zombie Facility

In another example, a dungeon themed escape room can be difficult to light, especially if it is not designed to be scary. While copious amounts of candles can do the trick, having a ‘full moon’ shine through a window high up gives the room a fairy tale enchantment and puts the player at ease that this is not intended to be a ‘scary dungeon’ but a ‘magical dungeon’. It would be difficult to achieve the same thing if the room was pitch black.

Immersing Players in your Locked Room

If lighting was ignored but everything else about the design was kept the same it’s clear that we would not achieve nearly the same level of immersion. Good lighting sets the stage and implies mood. It doesn’t draw attention to itself but instead does it’s job without the player even noticing its effect. All you need to do is provide the foundation and the player’s mind will fill in the rest for you. When we design our escape room in Calgary, we incorporate a lighting pass to ensure the mood is correctly set for the player.

Puzzle rooms are a unique media format, in that one is not watching afar as in a movie, or partaking in a set sequence like a theme park ride. Instead players place themselves in the location and move though the escape room at their own pace. To achieve similar results in immersion, one must effectively use lighting to invoke the correct emotion to match the theme of the room. When designing your next adventure room, be sure to spend sometime understanding the subtleties of light and you will be surprised at how much it can elevate a room.

Arcadia Adventures Escape Room is Calgary’s premier escape room experience. Our real-life Calgary escape room is an excellent way to have fun, solve puzzles, and improve your team-building skills. Our rooms can host parties, small groups, families, couples, and is great as a team-building activity for Calgary businesses. Book your spot at our one of our Calgary escape rooms online or by contacting us on 587-356-0440.

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