"The audience for the gaming industry is no longer limited to the gen x population but has opened its arms for all age groups which makes the industry a giant open market," feels Sapna Bhutani, co-founder of Mystery rooms real-life escape games.
Bhutani co-founded Mystery Rooms with an aim to breaking the monotony of the city life and offer experiences that encourages the "4 C's" of 21st-century learning that is communication, collaboration, creativity and critical thinking.
IANSlife speaks to Bhutani who shares her views on how the pandemic gave a boost to the Indian gaming industry, and more: From the left it's Shikhir Bhutani, centre it's Sapna Bhutani and on the right it's Prateek Panjwani (L) Shikhir Bhutani, (C) Sapna Bhutani, (R) Prateek Panjwani
What is your company offering?
Bhutani: Mystery Rooms as India's first live escape experience has opened a window to wide experiences that a person can have today besides just watching a movie or going on a dinner night. Limited number of available options in entertainment and lack of choices to organise a unique personalised event with just your people around had made the city life monotonous.
Suitable for all age groups, it's actually one of a kind experience where kids can play together with their parents or even grandparents. It is a means of safe adventure and adrenaline rush that you can experience without having to jump from the mountains or diving deep in the sea! Besides being an entertainment destination, Mystery Room is also a unique team building exercise that every corporate is engaging in. Solving a Mystery Room mission involves brushing up all mandatory skills which end up making the teams efficient and all the more bonded.
Today, Mystery Rooms aims not only at breaking the monotony of the city life but at offering experiences that are fun, adventurous, highly immersive, captivating and that encourages the 4 C's of 21st-century learning i.e. Communication, Collaboration, Creativity,and Critical Thinking.
How do you see the gaming industry in India taking shape?
Bhutani: India is one of the global leaders in the gaming industry owing to its vast user base. The industry has seen tremendous boom in the last few years and will continue to grow as the development and advancement in technology continues to happen even as we speak. The audience for the gaming industry is no longer limited to the gen x population but has opened its arms for all age groups which makes the industry a giant open market. In the current challenging times, the gaming platforms have become virtual social spaces serving consumers' desire to connect with their friends or family in a fun way.
What changes have the lockdown brought to the industry?
Bhutani: The pandemic has affected every industry in its own way but has also created an opportunity for every business to grow online and make ways to reach its customers. Mystery Room has always been very cautious about the safety of its customers and employees and has adapted all possible measures to make the experience in our physical escape rooms safe and secure. Also, Mystery Rooms experiences are completely private which means that you need not come in contact with anyone outside your team.
The lockdown helped us widen our horizon and create experiences that our customers can enjoy being at home. This was indeed never a plan but we had to find a way to reach our customer and stay connected with them amidst these crazy times.
Mystery Rooms launched its first ever online game in the initial days of the lockdown and was an instant hit. Since then we have broadened the choices of online experiences available at Mystery Rooms that once can enjoy from the comfort of their home being connected with their team members from anywhere in the world. Since these games are played online, they helped us penetrate the international market and today we have regular customers from countries like US, UK, Canada etc. Owing to the amazing response we have received for these at home experiences, we will continue to host them post Covid.
With outdoor games getting limited during Covid times, how do you think mystery rooms can help?
Bhutani: Mystery Rooms is currently offering an array of on-line experience to its customers across the globe which is as engaging and stimulating as any of our physical rooms. They not only give you an opportunity to connect with your friends but also help you challenge your wits while you are still bound to the boundaries. The following are our appreciated products for virtual birthday parties and online team events 1. Mystery Kits: These are easy to set up Print And Play missions which one can enjoy with their family.
2. Live Streaming- An highly immersive experience hosted by our Gamemaster in our physical location through Live 3. Online Games- These anytime anywhere mystery games are available on our portal and are a hit amongst corporate.
4. Mystery Box: Delivered to your door steps Mystery Box is a ready to play escape room experience packed in a box.
You started in 2014, what difficulties did you face?
Bhutani: Anything that's new in the market takes some time to absorb. Initially it was difficult to break the ice between the consumer and this novel experience owing to the uniqueness of the concept and the high price factor. But the market was somehow waiting for a new entertainment product. Millennial love trying out things that are unique and challenging. With extensive marketing and the first few months of discouragement, we were finally able to make the mark. Word of mouth marketing worked amazingly and soon we had to plan expansion.
What are your plans for future?
Bhutani: We have headed towards technology driven rooms which are highly immersive and more interactive in nature. Technologies like Augmented Reality are also being integrated in our future rooms. Presence of a character to make the mission all the more real is being introduced in our upcoming center in Gurgaon. The brand aims to reach all cities of India through the Franchise model in order to make the Mystery Rooms experience accessible in every corner of the country.