The Hethel Innovation team has worked closely with Norwich Startup ‘City Escape Games’, who have recently announced their innovative app, which is explored later in the article, is to launch at an exclusive discount to Hethel Innovation contacts. (Link at the bottom of the article).
Jordan sat down with Alec to discuss their journey so far:
Who & What is City Escape Games?
City Escape Games is a Norwich-based start-up, founded by three friends looking to bring an escape room experience into UK Cities. We have produced a digitally served, self-guided ‘treasure hunt’ experience. Our first game is due to launch in Norwich this July.
Players have 60 minutes to solve 10 cryptic puzzles at top sights across the city.
We believe we can bring three things to our customers; exercise, tourism and fun which, to the annoyance of my fellow founders, I describe as “Even a short walk will do, the top sites introduced to you and nothing beats solving a good clue!”
How did you come up with this innovative concept?
It was on a trip to Poland for one of the founders’ birthdays. We wanted something fun that would introduce us to the city and found a traditional paper-based treasure hunt. I really enjoyed the experience but I felt the concept could really be built on; converting to a digital medium, we could create a more engaging experience and bring it to more users for a better price. Win, win.
What have been the biggest surprises of your research?
The story component of the game was ranked second most important by our initial concept survey and one of the lowest user priorities after they had played. Once people are playing the game, value moves to be centred around a great experience which is created by having challenging clues, that and of course every team wants to win!
What have been your biggest challenges to date?
Getting the user experience right, we’re not user experience experts but when you’ve seen a two-year-old relative use an Ipad and a Chimpanzee on Instagram then I think the goal is clear – users should be able to progress through our product with no significant instruction, purely on intuition and excellent design. At least that’s what we strive for!
More practically we have learnt a lot about how to improve the user experience of our product with iterative testing and the help of Hethel Innovation. Although it has been one of our biggest challenges it is also one of the most enjoyable; it’s hard to create something really simple to use but really satisfying each time you do.
How has the feedback been from the lucky few who have played it? Don’t take it from me – I have an evangelist-level of belief in our idea and the team to deliver it. Take it from the people that really matter in business, customers. So here’s verbatim from our Alpha test last month:
“I loved participating in and exploring different parts of Norwich. I would recommend this game to many people!”
If you could create a City Escape Game anywhere in the world, where would it be?
If you’re saying this world then I’d go with Beijing, it has such a rich history and really amazing ancient sites; how great would it be to have the Forbidden City and Imperial Palace on a City Escape Game route! It also has the highest number of Escape Rooms in the World… so I think our product could be really well received there… however, if we’re including ‘out of this world’ then I think Bezos or Musk might enable us to put one on the moon. Who wouldn’t want people to describe their product as out of this world!