Play The Room for Real
The Room games have always felt remarkably real. They revolve around mysterious boxes the player must open by flipping switches, turning dials and cracking codes. The boxes in all three games look lifelike in their dimly-lit surroundings, and the motions required to crack the puzzles mimic real life beautifully: every button pressed and dial twisted is satisfying to the touch. So why not make a Room-style puzzle for real?
By day, Guido Bonelli is director of engineering at a power supply manufacturing company. In his spare time he makes stuff, using electronics to make furniture come alive or creating hologram-like glassware. It all began when he moved into his first home and started to decorate.
”I decided to go buy an interesting clock, so I did what any person does, I went to the big-box stores,” Bonelli tells us. “Aisle upon aisle, row upon row of the same mundane clocks and paintings stared back at me…”
Armed with a 3D printer, laser cutter and a computer-controlled metalwork rig, he decided to make his own clock. It escalated quickly from there. “I now make almost all of my decorations," he tells us. “I love when people walk into my home and stare at all of the unique pieces of handmade, interactive artwork.”
His The Room-inspired piece is his most complex build to date, and has a special place on his mantel. “I just happened to stumble upon The Room one day and couldn't put it down,” Bonelli explains. “I actually got a bunch of friends to play the games too. I have since completed all three and am eagerly awaiting the fourth instalment!”
He estimates his real-world Room puzzle took around 800 hours’ work, from concept to completion. Bonelli began by creating 3D models to test out his concepts, and once he settled on a final design, he enlisted some friends to help cut the wood. Several hundred feet of wiring and 2,000 lines of code brought it to life.
I stumbled upon The Room one day and couldn't put it down...I've since completed all three.
Bonelli added an extra twist—his real-life Room puzzle doubles as a time capsule. “Everyone who solves it leaves a little piece of them behind,” he says. “Years from now it will be full of players past…I can't tell you more than that, unless you play!”
You’ll have to head over to Bonelli’s place in Long Island, New York to do so, though he has been asked to make more of these boxes so more people can play. He politely declines each time. “There is something magical about this being the only one in existence and not being cloned millions of times,” he says.
When he’d finished work on the box, Bonelli couldn’t resist tweeting Room series creator Fireproof to show them his work. “They were blown away,” he says. “Some of their followers actually asked them to include a puzzle based on my box in their next game. Wouldn’t that be amazing?”
Happily, Fireproof is working on The Room: Old Sins, a new chapter in the series expected to arrive on the App Store in January. Maybe we’ll see a little nod to Bonelli’s work in there, but until then, every game in the trilogy is well worth checking out: a trio of ingenious puzzle games every bit as creative and compelling as Guido Bonelli’s creations.