CASE STUDY: vrCAVE and Get Outta Here
Get Outta Here
“I thought it was a ridiculous idea, to be completely honest.”
That was the initial reaction of Keri Gardner-Volk, one of the owners of the Get Outta Here escape room business in Calgary, Alberta.
“Kyle and Kailyn came to me and said ‘we should try out this virtual reality escape room, these guys at vrCAVE look great.’ I said it was the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard in my entire life. Why wouldn’t we have a traditional escape room like everybody else?
“Except it wasn’t ridiculous, it was really awesome. So here we are.”
Virtual Reality Escape Rooms in a Traditional Escape Room Business
More and more traditional escape room owners are discovering the advantages of adding a VR escape room option to their business, just like Get Outta Here did in Calgary.
“I wanted to run an escape room because I’ve actually been in the industry since it came to Calgary,” Kailyn Vokalous, another owner, says. “I started out with another escape room company that was the first one here, and I’ve always loved it. Loved the games, loved people having fun and just the passion for puzzles.”
You can tell the owners share the passion for puzzles. One room pulls from an owner’s martial arts background and requires a karate move to solve, for instance! As with many escape room owners, the opportunity to deliver top-notch experiences and challenges is key for Get Outta Here. Escape rooms are immersive experiences that put groups of people in situations completely different from their normal lives. Taking a step into the virtual world, that same premise has to exist, and Kailyn felt that when she tried them.
“I think how realistic it was. It was a very immersive experience, I felt like I was actually in a tower or a haunted mansion or underwater. And I have to say I have a particular affection for the very realistic dragons in Dragon Tower.”
REAL DINOSAURS IN HERE!"
What people think of virtual reality escape rooms
Having installed vrCAVE’s VR escape rooms, the biggest question is of course, do people like them? And the answer has been a resounding, “Yes!”
“I did have a group with two young boys in it, and they were very much immersed in the experience,” Keri says. “They played the time travel game, and when they went into the first room, the prehistoric room, the youngest boy looked around and said, mom, mom, there's real dinosaurs in here!”
We have a few design principles we stick with every time to drive reactions like that while remaining a great fit for escape room owners.
- We create scenarios too impractical to build in real life (try getting a dinosaur flying overhead at a good price!)
- We build puzzles that engage the whole group
- We make it easy to play and easy to operate
On that last note, we’re very aware of the needs of escape room owners. Many times, an escape room business will want its staff to be attentive to the experience. If a group is stuck, you might want to give them a little extra nudge to keep them going.
While many escape room businesses will want to keep that practice going with VR rooms, we’ve also built in automated hints. So a group that’s stuck is able to use however many hints you’ve allowed them — and if you want to increase that count by one mid-game? It’s just a subtle mouse click away.
“Super easy training and I like that I can hand a piece of paper to a new staff member and they can run it. But then as they get more comfortable with it, they get more comfortable with troubleshooting and giving verbal hints and stuff like that,” Kailyn says. “It’s really easy for staff to learn and grow into more advanced ways of running it as well.”
VR Escape Rooms Make It Easy
The experience itself for the customers is one thing. But vrCAVE’s VR escape rooms deliver a selection of other benefits as well.
“Basically you have one space and you have seven different experiences that people can have in that space,” Keri says. “There’s a lot of replayability for it.”
With many escape room businesses, you’ve got room for 2 or 3 rooms. And of course, most people will only play any given room once. But set a room aside for VR, and you can fit a whole lot more experiences all in that same physical space. Get Outta Here finds that because there are so many options, there’s always something that’s going to entice someone who’s perhaps a bit apprehensive of the experience.
Because it’s virtual, there’s no need to do a room reset. You’re never going to accidentally forget to replace those puzzle items or put the lock back on the case. VR escape rooms start off fresh every time — just one of the ways it can make your management of your business easier. And there’s more than just that!
VR Escape Rooms as Mobile Party Events
You’ve got your bread and butter regular customers for escape rooms: families, friends, small groups of 5 or so people. Sometimes a larger group might do a rotation, or one might do a VR room and other might do a traditional.
But scaling up can be a bit of an issue. Some businesses have party rooms, or multiple VR arenas. Another trick you can try with VR escape rooms is taking your headsets on the road.
“It’s portable, so we are exploring things like taking our VR rooms to trade shows or to corporate groups, church groups, community groups,” Keri says. “And it’s so much easier with VR than trying to have a portable, hands on escape room.”
With a traditional room, you need something purpose-built for travel if you wanted to run your rooms outside of your usual premises — which is something you might want to do if you don’t have capacity to handle really large groups in your space, or if you want to take advantage of a special event or just make it easier for the booking.
With VR, the headsets just need a 15’ x 18’ space, and have a few tracking requirements. So you can load them up, take them wherever you’re going, do a quick recalibration and you’re good to go. That means that a corporate group or a church group can simplify the logistics of getting all their people to the room because the room comes to them. This opens up a whole new line of business for escape room owners who run VR.
Thinking About Adding VR Escape Rooms?
vrCAVE’s VR escape rooms have helped Get Outta Here out in several ways. They’re able to offer seven full escape rooms on top of their physical rooms. They’ve found it easy to operate and maintain. They’ve even taken it mobile. And most importantly, people are loving it.
From the child amazed by the dinosaurs to their recent church group booking, vrCAVE’s VR escape rooms are taking Get Outta Here’s guests on memorable VR adventures that get them talking to friends and get them back.
“‘That was really cool,’ that's the thing that I hear the most,” Keri says. “‘Wow, that was really cool. That was really awesome.’”
So, if you’re thinking about diving in with vrCAVE’s VR escape rooms?
“I would say do it. If you can convert me, you can convert anybody.”