What is an Escape Room?

Published on: 20/08/21

Escape rooms can be comically hard to explain; we call it the ‘nan-reaction’: “You’re paying to get locked in a room with some puzzles for an hour? Couldn’t you do that at home for nowt?!” The simple answer is, no! It’s all about immersing yourself in a totally new environment. With your comfort zone and control taken away, it’s 100% intensity, using your skills- and teamwork- to puzzle your way out, with the added pressure of the clock ticking down.

The undeniable adrenaline rush, plus the thrills of challenge, satisfaction, and bonding with your team-mates, has seen the popularity of escape rooms explode across the world. As every room is different, you can experience a totally unique adventure every week of the year- and many do. So let’s push open the door and see what’s inside…

How it all Began

Like most things, the history of escape rooms is a matter of debate. It’s generally agreed that physical escape rooms originated from a computer game called Crimson Rush, created in 2004 by Toshimitsu Takagi. Introducing a similar concept to those seen in escape rooms all over the world today, players were trapped in a crimson coloured room, having to solve a 23-step series of clues to make it out.

The first live escape room was built by the Japanese company SCRAP in 2007. Creator Takao Kato’s intention was to create a fully immersive game in which players had to solve a series of puzzles and riddles to escape from a locked room.

From relatively simple beginnings, escape rooms have developed into totally immersive worlds, using full sets, actors, secret compartments, even state of the art video technology and holograms.

What am I Likely to Find in an Escape Room?

You and your team meet in a themed room and have a set time, usually an hour, to complete a mission and ‘escape’ the room. A successful escape will require you to uncover hidden clues, crack tough codes, and solve challenging puzzles, which may be mental or physical. Each discovery and “aha!” moment brings you closer to completing the mission- although look out of false trails and dead ends!

Your goal might be literally escaping something like a prison cell, crashed submarine, or locked room in a ghostly mansion. In other cases, the ‘escape’ is more mission-oriented, which may entail finding lost gold, completing a secret scientific formula in a laboratory under zombie siege, or launching a spacecraft from a doomed planet about to explode.

With ever-increasing technology available, escape rooms can create any time, theme and genre- many are based on popular film and videogame franchises. So whether historical, futuristic, literary, surreal or physical floats your boat, you’ll find it- including escape rooms set on a boat!

Top Tips

Nothing in an escape room is there by accident. Some items will be to create atmosphere, many will be clues and some may be not what they seem. Interact with everything as much as you can- don’t forget to look underneath rugs, sift through the books on shelves, and take a closer look at all those paintings on the wall! Look for patterns, interesting similarities, or something that just doesn’t fit. For example, that string of numbers innocently woven into a cushion pattern may turn out to be just what you need to open a combination lock.

If there is a ‘host’ in the room with you, they will usually be in character and in receipt of useful information, which introduces a great random element to the game. But they won’t just spill the beans without some effort on your part, so get ready to max your persuasion, empathy or interrogation skills. But never take your eye off the time; the clock starts ticking the moment you enter the escape room!

Who are escape rooms suited to?

Pretty much anybody: they’re indoors, so great whatever the weather, they usually don’t involve a lot of walking, and they are very well designed, run and monitored. You play in teams, so you can share out physical, mental and dextrous tasks according to experience and enthusiasm.

Teamwork is key, so they’re great for multi-generational family outings, groups, parties, stag and hen dos, corporate events and team-building. Usually you will put your team together beforehand (usually 4-8 players), but some venues offer special sessions where you literally meet your team in the room, adding an extra frisson to the situation. Because you have to bond so quickly, some people make friends for life with strangers in escape rooms!

Most escape rooms set a minimum age of around 10, and obviously if someone has severe anxiety or claustrophobia, this may not be the best activity for them. But some venues also offer special, child-friendly scenarios, or some which involve fun, immersive puzzles without the stressful ‘escape’ element. If in doubt, contact the venue beforehand, they will be very happy to talk you through what’s on offer- without giving away any clues!

Escape rooms are a whole new way of experiencing storytelling. By combining social activity with interactive adventures and challenging puzzles, escape game players are immersed in an entirely new world with storylines that feel like Hollywood blockbusters. Even if you don’t actually ‘escape’ the room, the whole team will have a blast and make memories that you will share for a long time. No wonder they’re so addictive!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

We have also put together a list of frequently asked questions at the link below, which include some Top Tips and Did you know information, which you can use to show off with your friends and family

  • Read our frequently asked questions (FAQs) - Click Here

We hope that you have enjoyed reading our article called What is an Escape Room? and that you have found the information above include our FAQ page helpful in deciding on which venue you to choose for your Activities and Days Out

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