FlevoMeer was looking for a way to interest primary school children in reading books and to bring the library to children during the Covid-19 lockdown in the Netherlands. WonderBit and partner AppRuption pitched the idea of a on-line escape room to FlevoMeer. In this game the player visits several fantasy worlds by literally travelling through books. Enthusiastic about the idea, FlevoMeer asked WonderBit to detail out the game design.
Upon starting the escape room, the player finds themselves in the local library as an intern and is asked by the librarian to complete a few basic tasks. Soon enough the player learns about a secret room and the mysterious book travel machine which allows travelling through books. This way the player discovers a deserted island, a medieval castle threatened by a fire breathing dragon and even another planet. During the game, the player meets several whacky characters that will help them by giving items or supplying hints.
By solving puzzels, looking up knowledge in the library and collecting items, the player will progress in the game. The player escapes and wins the game by returning the special trophy the librarian lost in one of her previous travels.
The (Dutch-language) escape room can be played free of charge on the website www.boekenreismachine.nl.
The project was funded by the Province of Flevoland’s 2018-2021 library innovation fund program.
A digital escape room is a game to be played on a computer where the player enters a digital room and needs to “escape” before the time runs out. This can be done by solving puzzles, collecting items and discovering hints.
Found items may be given to characters in the game to obtain hints or applied to other game objects in order to progress.
The game is targeted at primary school children aged 9 to 12, but is alo enjoyed by slightly older children as the game features three sifferent difficulty modes. The escape room is designed to be completed in about 45-60 minutes.
To boast of their achievements, players are presented a downloadable, personalized certificate after completing the game, which shows their final score, number of used hints and the remaining time.
The Book Travel Machine features colorful and attractive cartoon-like illustrations that connect with the perception of the target group. The game sports super-crisp 4K graphics and is enjoyed best in full-screen mode on a 16:9 screen.
The game has been played more than 8,000 times from its launch in mid-July 2021 through December 2021.
After launch, more than ten other library organizations across the country joined the project.
In the spring of 2021 WonderBit and partner AppRuption visited four primary schools across the province of Flevoland to test early versions of the game with the actual target audience. Many valuable lessons were learned, and many suggestions from children were added. Also the game was made less difficult at certain places and we added a hint system.
Using WonderBit’s in-house developed escape room engine, we were able to deliver a rough first version of the game in just a few weeks. The engine features localization support, smooth side scrolling, vector graphics, sound effects, animations, a plugin system and support for tablet and smartphones.
“With great pleasure we have developed the Book Travel Machine escape room together with WonderBit. As a result, we now have a super fun game to get kids excited about reading and visiting the library.”