In the article  “Room Escape Artist: What are the definitions of each of the four generations of escape rooms?” which can be found here

Shawn Fischtein of Escape Games Canada

was quoted on what the 4 basic “generations” of escape games in the world right now were. Alot of people seem to have a problem with these definitions, but as a designer and builder of alot of escape rooms, I tend to follow them in my own descriptions. He is quoted from the article as saying:

Gen 1

  • Uses simple mechanical systems
  • Relies heavily on player energy input to make anything “happen”
  • Typically includes lock boxes with hasps and padlocks
  • Contains simple systems like using a reaching pole or a fishing magnet to obtain new information or items
  • Delivers information or clues mainly through visual representations (prints) or written language
  • Frequently relies on an observer or an in-game actor to moderate gameplay


Gen 2

  • Utilizes stored magnetic, electronic, kinetic potential (gas springs etc.) for much of the the game
  • Puzzles start controlling clue deliverance through means of tripping electronic sensors
  • Replaces lock boxes with spring-loaded or gravity potential release-triggered mechanisms
  • Uses simple controllers (or “dumb” controllers) that aren’t processing any sort of logic
  • Can include simple lighting systems and sound systems that adapt as the players progress through the room


Gen 3

  • “Smart” room (as in, integrated technology)
  • Utilizes actuation and more complex electronic controllers
  • Room “knows” where the players are in their progress and can adapt, monitor, or guide the experience with more automation
  • Replaces most padlocks or combination locks with interactive and intelligent computer based systems
  • Some of the systems in these rooms may be integrated in chunks or clusters, which help the game masters create phases of the game


Gen 4

  • Entirely automated rooms and doors
  • Substantial “smart” and responsive systems
  • Delivers clues and information through responsive systems that carefully monitor the progress of players and can adapt in order to keep a streamlined experience for everyone involved
  • Most or all computers are integrated to maintain a seamless transition from one objective to the next
  • Introduces complex gaming mechanics such as butterfly effects, strategy, and replay-ability”

I will personally continue to use these definitions when we design, build, and sell games.