Ria’s Escape Room

Team Zorg Enablers
Published on
Implementations | Prevention and Healthy living


Ria’s Escape Room is an interactive pop-up game, developed to enhance the happiness and well-being of older people served by care facilities. It is a serious game designed for staff who work in long-term care. While playing the game, they learn to use their empathy and intuition in their contacts with clients. The complete game is stored in a portable crate called Ria’s Removal Box, and it can be set up wherever the players want. By viewing videos, reading questions displayed on an accompanying tablet, and finding clues interspersed throughout the room, the players compile essential personal information about Ria that will ultimately help them to provide more personalised care.

The idea to develop Escape Room was hatched in a team of quality assurance nurses working to improve the quality of care at the Dutch health and social care agency Omring. The everyday routines of nurses and care workers in such settings often leave them too little time to devote personal attention to the clients. The Escape Room game was developed by the serious games designer &happy in cooperation with Omring’s innovation section OMRING.LAB. ‘In the care sector the focus today is increasingly on happiness and well-being for both clients and staff. To accomplish the transformation to genuinely client-centred care, we are constantly searching for happiness factors that improve the clients’ quality of life. Games are a means of accomplishing that,’ explains Jurriaan van Rijswijk, who founded &happy.

Escape Room is an interactive learning environment in the form of a small flat. The players discover there all sorts of clues about the client who lives there. To bring the game to a satisfactory end, the players must not only find the right evidence, but they must also ‘consult’ with the client’s family and they must work together well. To facilitate that, Escape Room tries to be as consistent as possible with local daily practice. The questionnaire on the game’s tablet, for example, is designed in the same style and format as the official client service plan used by Omring. Jurriaan continues, ‘Playing is in fact our natural way of learning. Everyone is endowed with that by nature. But as soon as we start to school, the emphasis shifts more and more to book knowledge. At &happy, we revert back to that innate learning strategy by designing games that influence people’s behaviour through enjoyment. We’re the archaeologists of the future, as it were.’

To be successful, a serious game must be designed around the intrinsic motivation of the target group, rather than on the goal of the game. The wishes and needs of the target group must be carefully mapped out beforehand, after which &happy can offer solutions. &happy also uses barrier-reducing activities to expedite the ‘onboarding process’ and kindle enthusiasm for serious gaming. The concept for Ria’s Escape Room is scalable. The game itself, the topics it addresses and the content of the room can all be adapted to the wishes of a particular care agency. The supportive capacity within the organisation can be increased in part by training staff members themselves as game facilitators for Escape Room. As Jurriaan notes, ‘We try to keep the costs for the use of the game as low as possible, so that more care agencies can integrate the intervention into their daily practice. To that end, we are seeking new output-based funding models.’

Technology can make care services not only better, but also more enjoyable. Together with its partners, &happy strives to create an ecosystem in health and care services that uses gaming principles to boost the happiness of patients, clients and staff. Ria’s Escape Room forms one further step.



&happy puts serious games and gamified apps on the market that promote good health and good-quality care while bringing about a transformation in care services. &happy is an initiative of Jurriaan van Rijswijk, founder of the Games for Health Europe Foundation. For years he has been a strong advocate of the use of serious games in health care settings, as well as their empirical validation.