The Flow State: difficulty in escape games

One of the challenges Key Enigma faces as creators of escape games is measuring the difficulty of the puzzles.

There are many things to consider when creating a puzzle. The adjustment to being made by taking into account both the difficulty of understanding the puzzle mechanics (type of code, calculation…) and the difficulty of mastering the conceptual material specific to the puzzle’s thematic area (the context in which the game is set like astrology, old civilizations…) is the key.

Furthermore, in escape games, complexity plays a crucial role in the success of the experience as too many easy puzzles will quickly bore, while too difficult ones can lead to frustration or anxiety.

This is where the MASTER or CLUE SYSTEM comes in.

During an escape game, players can ask for/receive “clues” to help them overcome the problems that make up the game after they have tried several times. This helps the player maintain a pleasurable experience, so as not to disrupt the “flow state” the players are experiencing.

OK but what is this Flow theory?

It is the theory that talks about the pursuit of happiness. It wasn’t until 1975 that psychologist Mihály Csíkszentmihályi outlined his theory that people are happiest when they are in a state of “flow” – completely focused and absorbed in whatever activity they are doing.

This requires certain characteristics such as liking what you are doing, having a clear short-term goal, knowing that the objective of what you are doing is achievable, finding certain surmountable obstacles… Does this sound like an escape game? OF COURSE!

If you want to feel this state of Flow, I recommend you to play Hack Forward, Curse of the Butterfly and Calling Card games.

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