Most Australian escape rooms are built for between $10,000 and $50,000 Australian dollars.
The Owl Job cost under $1000 in materials. Adding in other production costs like voice actors and a disability consultant, the costs still came in around $2000.
Granted, since I work primarily as a sound technician, I already owned a lot of the more expensive equipment like laptops and speakers. But if you’re reading this as an established escape room venue, you likely have other assets already on hand that can give you a leg up too.
Sightless escape rooms aren’t expensive. They just require time to design and attention to detail. A lot of the savings comes from the fact that you don’t need to make the set look like a Hollywood production. However, that doesn’t mean you get to totally cheap out. It still needs to feel good and it needs to sound good.
Here are some pointers to make your room feel like it has good production values.
- Avoid plastic props if they feel too light or cheap. You want something that feels nice in the hand. Think of how players will respond to the coolness of metal or the grain of wood.
- You don’t want to overload your players with too much information. Rather than cluttering up your space with a dozens of items, spend your money on a handful of really nice props.
- Use multiple speakers so that you get a sense of surround sound. For example if your setting was a restaurant, you should be able to hear the sounds of the busy kitchen on one side, and the sounds of the patrons dining on the other.
- Speakers are nice, but use the real thing where possible. Props like bells and music boxes can be a great way to add real sound to a room. (However, water should be avoided for safety reasons as it can easily become a slipping hazard.)
- If you are not a sound designer, you absolutely need to hire one. Your sound designer is the new art director.
- Consider having multiple voice actors to give the space some life and some character. Care needs to be taken that they don’t dominate (players will sometimes not listen to them) and if these are characters that players can converse with, then you’ll need to have a robust system to allow players to do so, especially if you’re using pre-recorded lines of dialogue rather than having live voice acting.
The fact that a good sightless escape room can cost a fraction of a traditional escape room is yet another reason you should consider them.