How to Design an Escape Room

The Substation, 2016

Event poster in black and white. Caption, this class is part of the school of uncommon knowledge. Next line. how to design an escape room. Next line. Hosted by Scott Chua. A photograph of a rubik's cube with duct tape along the edges. The poster also shows the description, time and place, and sign up link for the event.
Event poster in black and white entitled, a home for the arts, who teaches and who is taught. The poster also shows the description and sponsors of the event.
Posters courtesy of The Substation.

In November 2016, I taught escape room design for The Substation’s School of Uncommon Knowledge, a wonderful workshop series that ran on a barter system — the price of admission to my workshop was one pre-loved book. :smile:

The goal of the workshop was to teach participants a basic framework of escape room design, before guiding them through designing their own escape rooms on the spot — see my slides here.

I wasn’t sure how many people in Singapore were interested in such an esoteric subject, so I was pleasantly surprised when more than 20 participants showed up — on a Tuesday night, at that! Some were artists and designers, but the vast majority were teachers looking to use puzzles in the classroom. I had a wonderful time creating puzzles together with the participants.

Photograph of a training venue with around ten trainees seated and one trainer who is standing. There are workshop materials such as a whiteboard and projector screen. On the projector screen is a triangular diagram labeled, escape room design, narrative, puzzle, flow.
Photograph of participants at a table doing some activity as the trainer observes.
Closeup of a hand holding pencil writing on a worksheet.
All photos courtesy of Ailin Chin.

Praise for the workshop

  • Class exceeded my expectations! Speaker was engaging and interacted well with everyone. Gave tips and guides so we can read more and design our own escape rooms. Thumbs up! – Erina N.F.
  • I really appreciate how consistently engaging it was, as it wasn’t just a lecture but also had activities for us to design our own escape room in real time. – Dianne A.
  • This workshop gave me some ideas on designing gaming experiences that could possibly be applied to educational settings. – Louis T.