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Enhance Your Escape Room Experience With Google Slides Customization

Did you know you can take your game online? It's true! Here's how to make your own virtual escape room.
Start Designing
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Good news! If you make your escape room online you can cut out the stress and ALL the material costs. Here's how you can do it:

Ready to Craft a Virtual Escape Room?

Creating escape rooms is a blast! Designing the theme, the puzzles, and the absolutely horrible ending for the players if they fail to escape lights up the soul like a billboard in Times Square.

However, setting up the escape room is a little harder.... ok, maybe a lot harder. Trying to make up riddles that fit the combinations on your lockboxes, making cool posters for the walls, and constructing a real-life guillotine for the last challenge requires time and carpentry skills that you lack.

Don't worry, I will rescue you. I will show you how to make an escape room using Google Slides. No decorating or woodworking required. And once you set up this game, it stays set up forever.

Google Slides is like Powerpoint (I heard that groan. Enough. Hear me out). You'll use Google Slides to create a 'scene', where each object links players to puzzles (made using Google Forms) and clues (which could be anything from other websites, to helpful images or Youtube videos). You can even link to some tremendous fail GIFs when they submit the same wrong answer three times in a row!

You will use Google Forms to allow players to enter the puzzle's solution. The entire game will be played from the keyboard and, best of all, can be used multiple times.
Check out this video for a more in-depth tutorial on how to use Google Slides. 
(This article will complement the video, by showing you the escape room design principles you should be using)
Kids love making escape room games
Teachers love using Google Slides for escape rooms. Escape rooms allow them to reinforce or teach material without using boring worksheets or lectures sounding a little too much like Charlie Brown's teacher. Best of all, you've got zero printing costs for the materials, and you can re-use the lesson every year.

However, you should know that this is not a tutorial on using Google Slides. I've linked a video (above) for that.

Instead, this guide will outline the steps for making a ridiculously awesome game in Google Slides. I'll walk you through all of the virtual escape room design principles you'll need. Then after that, check out this full guide for even for helpful advice.

You don't need to be a Jedi Master to use Google Slides to create an escape room, but a few simple mind tricks may help you create some smoking hot puzzles!

How To Make An Escape Room — Know Your Audience

President Lincoln, one of history's great escape room designers, laid out the first principle for designing escape rooms when he said, "you can please some of the people all of the time, you can please all of the people some of the time, but you can't please all of the people all of the time."

Know going in that not everyone will love your game. Some will find it entertaining, and some will have toothpicks holding their eyelids open. That's why I recommend that when you decide how to make an escape room, you spend serious time considering the makeup of your audience.

Your audience determines your theme. You want the majority of your target audience to love the game. Use numbers-based puzzles if you're designing the games for a bunch of math nerds. If you're designing a game for your book club, you may want to favor word puzzles.
Epic game night with a printable escape room game
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Feel free to mix in more than one different kind of puzzle, but do so with your audience in mind. They should find the puzzles challenging and interesting, not obscure and impossible. If they feel like James Bond running across the backs of crocodiles to escape, they will not enjoy the game.

Your audience determines the length of the game. While in-person escape rooms often have a one-hour time limit, you may want to reduce the time limit to 30 minutes for your virtual game. You could also do away with the time limit, allowing players to progress at their own pace.

Teachers love escape rooms. They can design a game based on the subject, their classes' ability level, and whether the students behaved the day before. 3-5 puzzles and a 30 minute time limit work well for classrooms. It allows the players to finish the game before having a quick classroom discussion on the lessons learned.

Create Your World — Deciding on a Theme

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You know your audience. To make your escape room pop, you should create a theme that draws them into the game and fires up their imaginations.

Of course, you don't really need a theme. You could develop a set of sequential puzzles to allow the players to escape.

But what exactly are they escaping from?

Themes provide the excitement of the game. The puzzles provide the meat. Would you really watch a football game with no scoring, points, or winners? Or a golf tournament where no one putted out? Or a golf tournament at all?

By building your escape room around a theme, you engage your players and turbocharge their imaginations. Solving 5 puzzles in 30 minutes sounds kind of fun, as long as the dishes and laundry are already done. But solving 5 puzzles to escape the zombies and save the pizza is soooooo much more satisfying. Especially if it's a supreme pizza with lots of black olives!

Draw up a fun theme for your players. They will get into playing a game much more than just solving puzzles, no matter how clever. And they get to see your devilishly creative mind in action!

Create Flow By Creating and Ordering Challenges

Creating challenges brings you into the heart of making an escape game. Challenges are obstacles for the players to overcome. Don't worry about the solution; that comes later. Right now, you only need to create the challenge itself.

Most simple games and classroom games offer players 3-5 challenges. This is probably a sufficient number for a virtual game on Slides, depending on the difficulty. Players aren't physically running from room to room. Therefore, you can halve the standard sixty minute game without halving the fun.

Challenges should relate to your theme. Players may have to decode a secret message or crack a safe if you choose a spy theme. If zombies threaten your players, you can have players open virtual doors or locate car keys in lock boxes.
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Your theme will also help determine whether you design a linear or non-linear game. A linear game requires players to solve challenges in a specific order. For example, to open a locked door, players may need to unlock an iPhone to open the Bluetooth lock on the front door, then use the key on the coffee table to open a safe in the bedroom closet to get the secret recipe to grandma's chocolate chip cookies. Be sure to let them know which step is the first one!

A non-linear game allows the players to solve challenges in any order. Each solved challenge provides players with a piece of the clue needed to solve the final challenge. For example, four solutions may each provide a number for the lock on the final door, and the fifth solution will provide the hint needed to correctly order the numbers.

You can make your own escape room in Google Slides using either a linear or non-linear structure. Let your players know in the game instructions which type of game they are playing. If not, you will hear nothing but whines and moans instead of kudos and cheers!

The Key To Making Your Escape Room — Turning Challenges Into Puzzles

I won't kid you. Not about this anyway. Turning challenges into puzzles is the real work of making your own escape game. It's the hard part.

Don't be discouraged. This is where you make your bones. And I'm here to help you do it. The easiest way (and the smartest way) is to look at our long list of escape room puzzles and use the ones that most closely match your challenges. Voila! Game created!

I'm sure I don't have to tell you this, but the lawyers are requiring it, so here goes. Because you're making the escape game in Google Slides and Forms, solutions to the puzzles must be combinations of numbers and letters. Physical tasks and 3D puzzles are not allowed. Any attempt to rebroadcast or otherwise use physical tasks and 3D puzzles without the written consent of Google Forms will result in irate players chasing you through the house.

Design one or more clues for each puzzle. You can place the clues within Google Slides and Google Forms or link to outside websites. For example, the zombie/pizza game may link to YouTube to play Michael Jackson's Thriller or to a Shaquille O'Neal commercial for Papa John's.

Making your own escape game, either in the real world or the virtual world, requires players to make logical connections between different game elements. Make sure your clues make sense. You may want to have a patient friend or loved one test drive your game to ensure that your logic is the same as everyone else's logic, especially if you are typically the only one laughing at your jokes.
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Fire Up The Laptop And Start The Game!

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One last don't. Don't forget the most essential part of an escape game — fun! Your challenges should be solvable and enjoyable. Even if this is a classroom game, remember that fun will always enhance the learning experience.

If you follow my easy steps showing you how to make an escape room, the game will be a huge hit! You'll receive fame, fortune, and free drinks at Buffalo Wild Wings! Well, maybe free drinks at Buffalo Wild Wings if your friends escape. Good luck!
Need more tips? Follow our DIY escape room blueprint

Skip the work. Download a ready-to-play game kit and jump into the fun tonight!

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