Spatial Design and its Importance in ARGs

Carefully constructed places allow for a different kind of storytelling. Spatial storytelling is probably the most intuitive way for humans to learn and take part in a game. This boils down to our very human nature. When placed in a new situation or setting, our brain automatically responds by analyzing what is around us. Because of this, it is something that all people know and do in their everyday lives. People feel more comfortable doing this then trying to answer any kind of riddle. I was impressed by Return of the Obra Din but also felt as though it did not hit on one of the strengths of spatial design and storytelling.

              I believe that one of the most important aspects of spatial design is the collaborative nature that it reinforces. For this I will use an example from when I participated in an escape room game when I was back home. Nothing represents spatial storytelling better than throwing 8-10 people in a room they have never seen before and expect them to find their way out. Because I went to the game with only my immediate family of 4, we had to be paired up with another family. I thought this might be awkward because we could be very different group with different abilities. What I found however, was that we functioned as a cohesive group almost immediately. After about an hour, we escaped and left the event as friends. I do not believe this was because we were socially inclined to become friends (The dad of this group was a factory worker, whereas my dad is a biologist) but we still put aside any sort of differences for the sake of the game. I believe this is because in spatial storytelling, everyone can interpret the setting differently. Because of this, it is important to incorporate everyone’s points of view. I also feel that spatial storytelling is by no means a high stakes game. What I mean by this is when working to solve a riddle or answer a problem, there are clear right and wrong answers whereas with spatial storytelling it is different ways of interpreting the same setting. Because of this character are much less likely to feel intimidated and will offer their opinion and observations more often. Because spatial storytelling is so fundamental to how we behave as humans, it is necessary to include it within ARGs.

One thought on “Spatial Design and its Importance in ARGs

  1. Your point about how spatial storytelling isn’t as high stakes as riddle or puzzle solving is interesting to think about because, as you said, a puzzle has a clear right answer while spatial storytelling of the kind you described in escape room games can be more about exploration and interpretation. However, I also think that there can be aspects of spatial storytelling can also be frustrating in that puzzles provide a clear direction to take as well while something more open doesn’t do that. On a different note, what are some ways of combining the two strategies to optimize them?


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