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How Sound Can Enhance Escape Room Games
Escape Rooms often create a multi-sensory experience for players. Escapers become fully immersed in the world you have created, both physically and – if you are successful – emotionally.
With visual cues and props taking care of sight and touch, the most often neglected sense is sound. No matter the theme of your puzzles or their level of difficulty, adding audio cues, background music or thematic sound effects can significantly enhance the playing experience.
What to consider:
• Style: Sweeping cinematic scores work well in almost any Exit Game setting because people are familiar with this kind of music. It builds tension while remaining fairly unobtrusive. If your room has a strong theme, for example, Ancient Egypt or Horror, using related music can make the experience feel authentic.
• Volume: Concentration is key, so don’t distract your players with music that’s too loud. Similarly, too quiet and the point will be lost.
• Arrangement: Any melodies which are too catchy might distract the player. Try to pick music which will integrate effortlessly into the game. Ideally, the music will slowly build in intensity and speed throughout the game’s time limit.
• Sound effects: Escape Rooms are certainly cinematic, but unlike movies, you can’t predict what people will do or say so can’t sync up certain sounds with particular moments. However, rigging up certain actions (e.g. opening a hidden door) with sound effects (e.g. creepy creaking door) can be done to great effect. Periodic time announcements can also be automated.
• Licensing: You will need permission to use music which has been released in a commercial setting, and will have to pay royalties to avoid breaching copyright. However, royalty-free music is available online. While you may have to pay to download it, a one-off payment is still cheaper than regular royalties.
Dedicated, pre-made Escape Game soundtracks are also available online, for example from Baumann Music, and audio effects are available to download from various sites – either for free or for a small subscription fee. If you want to invest further, you could commission something a little more bespoke from an artist.