Fundamentals of Immersion

Jun 20

Contextual Analysis

Where Dark Things Dwell poster

Where Dark Things Dwell at Black Creek Pioneer Village is a unique escape game experience at Toronto’s Black Creek Pioneer Village. It is intended a showcase of the historic buildings at Black Creek, using the escape game format as a means of bringing players who might not otherwise have come to the village on a tour of the site.

The game uses environmental storytelling to explore the true history of the site as well as the fictionalized story of a curse trapping the players in the village. Each building has a set of puzzles themed to the building, which can have Nicholson’s “Ask Why” paradigm applied to them to explore their placement in the village. The mill has a puzzle involving sacks of flour, for example, while the building containing drying racks of herbs contains puzzles involving potions.

It is interesting to note that the puzzles forms are often unrelated to their content – the flour sack puzzle, for example, could be easily replicated with paper or wooden tiles. The potion puzzle is simply a series of riddles. While thematically linked to their sites (or by content – for example, the potion riddle puzzles are themed after spells) there is rarely a physical necessity or affordance that causes a puzzle to be situated in a physical form or space.

Each space’s puzzles are contextualized by the space they occupy, bringing narrative synchronicity to what would otherwise be unrelated puzzles. By couching puzzles in the trappings of their space narrative coherence is strengthened, even when there is no deeper relationship.

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