Do you remember the time when you would jump from one couch to the other, avoiding the “lava” underneath your feet, to reach the door of the attic? Or the time when you had set up a fort, and tried to escape from it? That, my friends, was your introduction to the world of escape gaming.
Escape game rooms are physical rooms, where players are locked in, with a set of puzzles and riddles, which they have to solve within a set time in order to ‘escape’ from the room. It is a perfect synergy of physical challenges and intellectual triggers. You can, literally, climb into the story and create your own ending! There are endless fictional set ups for escape rooms, like mazes, vaults, and your imagination sets the limit. All you need to do is find one which gets your attention, and step into a different world altogether.
Escape rooms were first created in 2007, when Takao Kato, founder of SCRAP Entertainment, observed his classmate play an online game in which she had to unlock the room by clicking on various clues, and Kato conceived the idea of bringing the game to life. Since then, escape gaming has evolved and become quite popular in the United States, Japan and other countries. Today, there are over 4,000 escape rooms worldwide, to compare and choose from.
Generation One vs. Generation Two Rooms
Speaking of evolution of Escape Room games, the games have spanned over from one generation to the other over the past few years. Generation one-escape rooms are basic – one standard room with puzzles and padlocks. Generation two-escape rooms are more tech-centric; they are controlled by various technological methods, such as Radio Frequencies and electromagnetic fields, instead, or on-top of physical padlocks.
Having said that, it might not always be possible to draw a hard line distinguishing the two generations of escape room gaming. Generation two escape rooms, essentially, provide a more evolved experience to the player. They use more advanced technology, and have well-told and strong narratives. The combination of technology and concept is what makes Generation two-escape rooms more popular.
In the USA, about 58% of the players prefer escape rooms where they need to assemble physical puzzles. Hence, generation two rooms have evolved in a manner where technology is made to support the experience of constructing puzzles and riddles. Technology plays a major role in the future of escape rooms, but essentially the concepts and puzzle designs are what keep the player engrossed and involved.
How does the next step look like?
Unlike other recreation activities, which are typically popular amongst certain demographics, escape rooms have an appeal to a wide variety of people. If you look at the gender break down of escape rooms, around 55% are males, in stark contrast to other games that are predominantly male-dominated.
In the United States, escape rooms are becoming more competitive by the day, especially in Los Angeles and San Francisco. This leads to a concern of many entrepreneurs – how many escape rooms are too many rooms? The market is growing at a tremendous speed, and hence, there’s a definite filtration of sub standard facilities from the competition.
Saturated or not, this form of gaming seems to be here to stay. So, look around, take your pick, and welcome to the world of real gaming!