Inspired by point-and-click computer games while taking cues from interactive theatre games such as haunted houses and scavenger hunts, an Escape Room is a cooperative experience where a group of people get together in a preset space and work to find clues, solve puzzles and tasks to achieve a goal, usually exiting the space. Growing in popularity for just over ten years now, thousands of escape rooms are enjoyed across the world.
A group of people, anywhere up to ten or even more, will start their booked experience in a room decorated specifically for the experience. Many argue this is the most important element, as immersion is key to an escape room’s success.
Clues to the goal, usually to exit the room, are left to be discovered. Puzzles and tasks are usually involved to open the way to progress to the next step in the game, which now often means moving to another room.
Most escape rooms will have time limits of 45 minutes to one hour. “Ticking clock” elements such as defusing a bomb, stop (or escape) a vehicle crash, run from an approaching horde of zombies can be involved. Some experiences will have actors to move guests along (as well as give clues). Or you may simply have a loudspeaker’s periodic reminder announcing how much time the group has left.
As mentioned before, the goal of playing an escape room game is to escape, or exit the room or space. But other objectives can be involved. In one Russian escape room, the goal is to destroy all the subversive paperwork in a dissident friend’s room before the secret police arrive!
Solving a mystery is a very popular objective. Find the serial killer before they strike again, or a more Sherlockian “who killed Mr MacGuffin” instead. Maybe you need to discover why a facility, like a space station, is deserted.
Perhaps some kind of heist. Retrieve a stolen relic. Or you’re raiders of an ancient monument, treasure hunters looking for the lost artifact.
Do you complete a task, answer a mystery, or find an object? Any one of those (or more than one) can lead to victory.