How Fear Manifests in Escape Rooms

Tue, 26 May, 2020

Escape room designers use their creative talents to weave a complex web of fear triggers

throughout their horror-themed rooms; culminating in a game filled with frights, thrills and non-stop entertainment!

We’ve all felt fear: that primitive emotion that has the power to elicit a strong internal response – fear is horrible, but it’s what makes us human. Whether fear is a reaction to something rational, irrational or primal is a different matter altogether.

Let’s take a look at the different types of fear and how they might manifest in an escape room environment…

Fear #1

Type: Rational Fear

Definition: A reaction to a real and imminent threat

Escape games exploit a diluted form of rational fear; diluted in the sense that the players will never be in true danger.

An example of this is the incredibly common murder mystery or “serial killer” themed rooms with live actors. As players, we know that the live actors are exactly that – actors, but you’d have to be a robot to not feel just a hint of fear when one is chasing you around the room with a fake weapon!

Fear #2

Type: Irrational Fear (Phobia)

Definition: An illogical reaction to a thing or situation despite the awareness that it presents no danger. 

Escape rooms tend to excel at exploiting our irrational fears and phobias to create a truly chilling atmosphere. The beauty of which resides in the fact that while players may be feeling scared or outright terrified, their safety is – and always will be – guaranteed for the full duration of the game.

Irrational fears vary from one person to another and can include a huge variety of topics including clowns (coulrophobia), darkness (scotophobia) and even fruit (fructophobia)!

Fear #3

Type: Primal Fear

Definition: Evolutionary fear response as a result of our innate survival instincts.

Every single one of us is born with a primal fear response that kicks in when confronted with a primitive or natural danger.

That instinctive feeling of knowing when you’re being followed chimes in the back of our minds like a sixth sense and derives from our hunter-gatherer past. Our prehistoric ancestors had to be constantly alert to the threat of predation from wild animals…

Prepare to see images and material related to snakes, spiders and other creepy-crawlies to evoke your primal fear response!