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[English] Stay Immersed in STORYTELLING

We are all ready for extraordinary experiences, we don't care much where they come from, whether it's a roller coaster, a play, a good classic film or a 70mm film tank, a football match or the very same funfair ghost train.

One feeds on the sensation of magic, of being transported to another world that challenges the everyday. One enjoys connecting with other people. This is what makes the human experience enjoyable. This is the beginning of all play.

The Experience…

Until the development of video games and their massification, the Game Experience was purely physical. With its arrival, this experience became a virtual experience, within a digital world.

Virtual Reality combines these two worlds, physical and digital, creating a new language and new connections between the two worlds to transport us more easily to that sense of magic and play.

Within the world of video games there is a very particular genre and it is called Escape Rooms.

The most common and well-known definition is: A game that requires escaping from imprisonment by exploring the environment.

These are adventure games in which players solve a series of puzzles using clues and strategies to complete objectives.

Monument Valley: Princess Ida walks through various mazes of optical illusions and impossible objects as she manipulates the world around her to reach the various platforms in the game.

The History Makers

In 1988 John Wilson released a basic game called «Behind Closed Doors» in which the player was trapped in a bathroom. In 2001 the well-known online game «MOTAS: Mystery of Time and Space» designed by Jan Albartus made the term Escape Rooms popular.

Although games like this have been known for decades, in 2004 Toshimitsu Takagi’s Japanese game «Crimson Room» spread the genre all over the Internet.

But this kind of game genre does not only exist within video games, it also exists in physical form. It literally puts a group of people in a room (voluntarily not Cube-style*) so that they have to solve certain puzzles in order to finally leave the room.

*Cube: It’s a Canadian film made in 1997 and directed by Vincenzo Natali, which plays with the theme of the Escape Rooms but in a slightly bloody way. The film has its origins in an episode of the series The Twilight Zone called The Twilight Zone: Five Characters in Search of an Exit (TCC).

Why do we like the Puzzles?

Gorogoa: A hand-drawn story, suspended inside a completely unique puzzle.

People solve puzzles because they like pain and they like to be freed from pain, and they like best everything they find within themselves: the power to free themselves from their own pain

Mike Selinker-Thomas Snyder, Puzzle Craft.

Puzzles are fun, they challenge us all the time.

Remember the famous Eternity? This incredible puzzle had 209 flat pieces with which to build a giant dodecagon. Although it did not have many pieces it was really difficult to solve so its author, Christopher Monckton, offered in 1999 a prize of about two million dollars to whoever found the solution. It was one of the most successful puzzles in the United Kingdom that year and exceeded half a million units sold. In May 2000, just before the competition deadline, a couple of mathematicians from Cambridge sent in the solution and won the prize.

Puzzles and video games have a long history together. Who doesn’t remember Tetris, The Secret of Monkey Island, The Neverhood?

The puzzles have been transformed and sophisticated but have not stopped coming at the same time:

Put a set of clues/objects together and see how they work, which doors they open, how they are solved.


All puzzles take place in one space. The space in which storytelling takes place. It doesn’t matter if the space is a table, room, an island or a place full of cubes, the player must search, find and order the objects and clues within the story.

Crimson Room 1994

Designing Experiences

In a storytelling, not only is the space where the story takes place designed, but this space is part of the design of the experience.

In a context like Escape Room, a lot of questions arise when designing the experience. The most important questions are:

What am I going to ask the player to do?
How will the player be able to place my order?

The Sailor’s Dream: An adventure/escape room game made by the Swedish company Simogo released in 2014

In a real room we can ask players to move or stand. In this type of environment we can include chairs so that when players get tired they can sit down.

But… what happens in a virtual environment?

Virtual Space

Even when we know that we work in a world that has infinite design possibilities and real physical limitations as well, much of what we can demand from the human body.

So… body fatigue is still evident in an immersive environment. By asking the user to stay in a certain position for an extended period of time – for example, archery virtual reality video games require the player to have a certain physical posture throughout the game – the player can quickly become fatigued and may not even be aware of his own fatigue.

Regarding Space: The space environment stimulates the player physically, for example, as mentioned above, demanding a certain position that the player adopts almost without realizing it.

Regarding time: By multi-sensory changing of the space environment accompanying the storytelling, the player immersed in the game is likely to lose track of real time and start moving with the storytelling times.

Players, losing track of time, can remain playing for an indeterminate amount of time and end up being confused. The concentration in the game is such that the body is put in a constant state of alert.

In a survival environment, as most video games are, the brain processes a lot of information very quickly looking to make connections between the different information that the environment is giving us. This can cause mental fatigue and the player ends up mentally exhausted, but without realizing it, the same thing happens to the physical body.


All of us seek in a storytelling the fundamental: an enjoyment, a sense of immersion in the story, a clear idea of presence, of immersion in the narrative, which transports us both in time and space.

When we go to see a movie, a play, we instinctively know how to suspend our disbelief before we sit down.

We leave much of what we know about the real world at the door and allow ourselves to be completely uplifted and transported by the events on stage and screen.

Don Carson

If the stage curtain closes and when it comes back up we are told that 10 years have passed, we happily buy that notion of the passage of time.
If the screen fades to black and a morning scene magically turns into a night scene, we don’t even think twice about it.
Unfortunately this is not true in physical places.

If the stage curtain closes and when it comes back up we are told that 10 years have passed, we happily buy that notion of the passage of time.
If the screen fades to black and a morning scene magically turns into a night scene, we don’t even think twice about it.
Unfortunately this is not true in physical places.

Don Carlson
Device 6: A witty, surreal thriller in which the written word is your map.

STORYTELLING or how we live the stories

This look at how we live stories, at how the immersive factor affects our perception of time and space can be applied to any artistic discipline.

Are we sound designers and artists in general capable of performing this analysis? Are we willing to broaden our horizons about what immersive environments are and start asking ourselves questions from the user experience?

Author: Sol Rezza
Editor | Corrector: Franco Falistoco
@ 2019
Portada : Pedro Covo

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