Why did we choose to create ‘The Divide’?
Creating a game based around the social divide isn’t exactly a ‘go-to’ theme and perhaps not the most appealing. So why did we choose this for our three month pop-up experience?
1) Homelessness is a real problem
Having both been students at the University of Reading, myself and Katie were fully aware that Reading has a real problem with homelessness. However, it wasn’t until we started working in the town centre every day that we saw the depth of the issue. No one should be without a warm place to sleep at night, and those most vulnerable and in need of aid should have access to it. Its hard to know how to help, and the advice of Launchpad (the charity helping to prevent homelessness in Reading) is to refrain from giving those begging on the street money. This may seem a harsh line, but giving it direct to charities that know how to help best means that the money is converted to the best kind of aid and given out to those most in need.
2) We want to help
One of the main messages we are trying to get across with The Divide is that anyone can help, no matter how big or small the contribution is, whether it is through your time or by giving monetarily. Once we had been shown the space at our pop-up venue for the game, we decided that we wanted to raise money for Launchpad as part of this experience; but thinking about it further, we concluded that we also wanted to raise awareness. Monetary contributions are great but something equally as valuable is awareness. So, along with 10% of all money taken from bookings for The Divide going straight to Launchpad, we also hope to leave players thinking about the issue and what they can do to help balance the social divide.
3) We want to push boundaries
Escape games are usually themed frivolously, with no deeper meaning, which is absolutely fine and the way the vast majority will continue to be designed and built. The concept is often compared to film and theatre, and playing an escape game is often like being in your very own movie – most would probably be compared to an action, thriller or horror. However, some of the most powerful and moving productions are thought-provoking and emotional – films such as Fences, A Street Cat Named Bob, or I Daniel Blake – so why can’t escape rooms also enter these realms? It is not something that has been attempted before and so the only way to find out whether it can be effectively done is by doing it.
One of the biggest challenges we have faced when designing and creating The Divide was to get the right amount of entertainment, whilst also challenging the players to think about the wider issue of the social divide and homelessness.
The Divide runs for three months at our pop-up location, at 58 Kings Road. You can book online here.