Why use Escape Games?

An accident that occurs is usually the consequence of a succession of causes. Employees may then be paralysed and not know how to react to the situation. This is why one suggested solution is to offer regular risk prevention training in the context of safety days. Three main axes are put in place during such training sessions. 

Learning: how to identify the factors that cause accidents? This includes knowing how to interpret prevention signs and identify potential dangers to others and to oneself. 

The knowledge of symbols in relation to safety, and the development of soft skills dedicated to observations and empathy are main factors to be developed for this first axis. 

Applying: consists in understanding and adopting appropriate gestures and protocols to prevent accidents but also to deal with them when the irreparable occurs. 

Knowing when protective clothing is worn, the protocols to be followed to avoid or manage the accident, the methods for communicating in an appropriate manner to secure the premises or rescue victims if necessary. 

In particular, this area must be the subject of regular training. Indeed, emergencies cannot be improvised at the last minute and only training allows us to know how to act appropriately if necessary.

Expertising: consists in learning from an accident. 

What are the factors that led to the tragedy? Was it a human error or a technical problem? Was there a protocol failure? 

Can safety be improved to prevent it from happening again? Is such a protocol realistic in view of the site or the financial means to be deployed? In order to answer these questions, a cause tree should be drawn up and solutions adapted to the framework concerned should be found within the framework of this third axis.

Improvisation has no place in these three axes. It is thus advisable to regularly train the actors concerned. But in everyday life, we prefer to be focused on current affairs. Training in risk prevention or management and taking part in safety days may seem secondary in relation to the issues to be dealt with, work meetings, objectives to be achieved or urgent requests from the manager or department head. Moreover, participating in risk prevention training can make some people feel negatively valued, anxiety-provoking, sad events, etc. Motivation to participate in such exchanges is therefore not always easy to mobilize.

This is why edutainment and the gamification of EHS training through the use of Serious Games and Serious Escape Games may be a good way to motivate employees to participate in safety days and, if necessary, to remove obstacles. 

What do Serious Escape Games look like?

But what does a Serious Escape Game actually represent? Especially when it is dedicated to EHS training? 

In August 2019, there were approximately 2,350 Escape Rooms in the USA and 700 in France. This number is growing since France has more than 2200 rooms in 2020. That's an increase of more than 300% in one year. Thus, the USA should have more than 9000 Escape Rooms in 2020.

Concretely, an Escape Game “generally consists in escaping from a room or a succession of rooms in a limited time. To do this, a group of players must find and collect a number of clues and objects in order to solve puzzles. These items can be hidden or not, and can be accessed more or less quickly in the game. Depending on the availability of these, the game will run more or less linearly, which will influence the overall difficulty of the event."(Guigon, Humeau & Vermeulen, 2017). 

Escape Games probably originated in video games, if we refer to titles such as Interieur (Sprites, 1985) or Eden Blues (Ere, 1987). In these video games, it is a question of escaping from an office or a prison, respectively.

Between 2004 and 2007, life-size adaptations were probably proposed for the first time in Japan. The idea was to play such games for real by physically locking players in a real room. Today Escape Games can be presented in different natures and formats: digital, life-size, hybrids (RX, RV, AR...). If we have mentioned the entertainment sector, other markets such as education, health or the corporate world make use of Escape Games. In this case, we call them Serious Escape Games.

What uses are dedicated to SEG?

Let's take a look at some of the uses associated with ESGs in the enterprise domain.

Communication

Most entertainment chains have positioned themselves in this market in order to diversify. For example, for events such as seminars, team building, birthday parties or corporate events, some brands offer employees the opportunity to play together to solve custom-built puzzles in an outdoor location or within the company. As a welcome pack, some large groups offer to help new employees to discover the company, its organization chart and its main functions by offering SEGs.

There are also SEGs designed to highlight products, brands or values through an original game during events or team building.

Recruitment

A SEG can also be used as a recruitment method, as it could potentially allow the expression of soft skills, i.e. soft skills such as empathy, the ability to make decisions in an emergency, to act as a leader... Approaches that are difficult to evaluate or to detect on a current CV.

EHS

A SEG can also be mobilized in the field of Environment, Health and Safety since it will be able to work on the three main axes we have mentioned: Learning, Applying and Expertising

SEGs dedicated to the HSE domain

Let's now take a closer look at the ESGs dedicated to HSEs with regard to the three main areas we have mentioned.

The first axis, Learning, is aimed at identifying accident-causing factors. In this area, to illustrate what an SEG dedicated to EHS can look like, we can take the example developed by students of a Master's degree in Management. It is a life-size course where one must not escape from a room, but rather flee the risks. The analogy is interesting. In a digital register, the company Immersive Factory proposes for example risk hunts in virtual and immersive environments. It is for example a question of identifying in a factory or in an office the elements that can be at the origin of the risks (video).

The second axis, Apply, invites the people concerned to train themselves to prevent the accident and to manage it if necessary. In this area, we should note the training organised by the French Ministry of the Interior, which regularly organises exercises involving several bodies: fire brigades, police forces, doctors and nurses. These life-size exercises are very formative to allow all the corps to organize themselves, to understand each other and to improve their communication techniques. On a company scale, such exercises are often practiced to evacuate a building in case of fire or earthquake. But other scenarios must also be taken into account: the management of victims in the event of a workplace accident, the actions to adopt in the face of a terrorist intrusion or an attack, or even upstream, managing a health crisis... Within the framework of SEG, we find for example the achievements proposed within the framework of the French Society of Emergency Medicine (SFMU). 

The third axis, Expertise, invites the people concerned to understand the causes of an accident in order to try to make the protocols evolve to protect themselves as well as possible. Being trained to set up a cause tree is an appropriate approach. How to propose an ESG in this field? The approach here is different. It is no longer a question of providing a whole set of puzzles to be solved, but of proposing a set of clues to enable participants to deduce what may have happened. It is the proposal of a hypothesis that will ultimately constitute the objective of the game and not a simple code. During the debriefing it will be necessary to test this hypothesis with what the designers of the SEG had foreseen. The gap between the players' hypothesis and the planned scenario will then constitute the means of evaluating the participants. The approach is thus intended to be less binary in order to take into account the systemic dimension represented by the causes linked to an accident.

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