Girl wearing AR headset looks through hole in wall

Designing Between Realities

How do you Design an experience simultaneously in Real and Virtual realities?


Hello and welcome to the Blog!

I’m Jethro, the creator of the upcoming experience Inbetween Realities.

I’m creating a real-life experience, like an Escape Room.  A team is locked into a Movie-Set quality space and completes challenges.  But what we do differently is also give players an Augmented Reality view.
If you haven’t seen it yet, explore our main website, and read our welcome to something new blog

This Physical/Augmented Reality combination lets us mix up usual Real-Life experience design tropes.
And It lets us design traditional Video Game style content differently too.

Those two design worlds meet in the middle, and this blog will show you how it influenced our gameplay design, servicescape, and content.


The Virtual

When you design for a Video game / Movie you have complete freedom – you can make anything you want happen.  This freedom lets me fly, or teleport, or commit Grand Theft Auto without a life of regretting my poor decisions

Video games and Movies show us to a new world, with a new story.

Click to see Bridge Animated Video

The Real

But what if we could actually be there?
Real life experiences like Escape rooms do that.  You could be in a WWII bunker or Spaceship: an actual space someone built that looks like the real thing.  You interact with real objects in real environments, and special effects make you feel like you are really there.  If you haven’t gone with a group of friends and broken out of a Fort Knox or rooted through a murderous professors study, I highly recommend you go and play your local Escape Room.
Video games (Yes, even VR!) only imitate the immersion of real-life experience with real-life friends.


However, escape rooms still have the limitations of the real world.  You could build an entire replica of Hogwarts and let players loose, but they won’t be able to Wingardium Leviosa.  ):  And realistic budgets mean you could only really make one or two rooms.

And in a video game, sure you can see your spell do the impossible, but all you feel is your sofa.  You can’t feel the wizards robe around your body, or the chest you are searching through.

That leads to the single idea I want to give you today:

When you meet in the middle of Real Life and Virtual, your designed experience is better than either alone.


The Two Combined 

At Inbetween Realities Escape Room, we combined the two.  Players each have a headset or Handheld device which lets them see an Augmented Reality overlay of the space.  The virtual world matches and reacts to what the players do in the real space.  Players interact purely physically – no motion controllers or gamepads.

Player wearing headset opens drawer, and butterflies fly out.

A player might play notes on a piano, move an object, or simply physically travel around their environment (and much more – but no spoilers for the game!).  Each of those actions controls and affects the game – everything in the room is designed to be there.

Because we know and control our space, we can interact in ways that won’t be possible with home AR for years.  And with the kind of special props that escape rooms use, you can really make something special.


Players can spot and feel a hidden compartment on a wall, and work out a way to open it.  But the revealed space is larger on the inside.

A lightning storm could rage overhead, drawn in Augmented Reality.  If players create a lightning rod at the right place it could power a door lock, enabling a real door to swing open.

Players might split up to creep up on an Augmented deer and scare it.

A painting might animate and talk to you when you look at it.

You might walk through an archway and see a version of your room where a statue stands peacefully, and walk back through and see the statue on fire, or turned to water.

Girl wearing AR headset looks through hole in wall

Inbetween Realities is utilizing these newly possible interactions to create an Escape Room game, with a big story and interesting characters and rewarding gameplay.  I’m super excited about the possibilities that are opening up.  There will be more posts in this series showing the ways we use the technology to reach our design goals, so subscribe and stay tuned!

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