WHAT ARE ESCAPE GAMES?
If you’ve never played an escape room before, the concept might seem pretty strange. Signing up to be locked in a room for an hour? Putting your mind to the test with challenging puzzles? You might be even more surprised to learn that there is an entire genre of escape games beyond physical escape rooms! Puzzles, board games, video games, virtual reality– all of these categories can fall into the escape game genre.
So what is an escape game? Some people might disagree on what “counts” as an escape game, but we would say that they include any game in which you must solve a series of puzzles to accomplish a specific goal within a limited amount of time. Whether it’s virtual, physical, or DIY, if you’re solving clues towards a common goal in a time crunch, we’ll call it an escape game.
These types of games have taken the world by storm in the past several years. So how did they get started?
ESCAPE GAMES HISTORY
Modern escape rooms actually owe their history to older computer game concepts. In the 1990s and 2000s, “escape the room” games became more and more popular. These “click and point” computer games had players click and interact with objects on the screen to move throughout the game and eventually “exit” a room.
Physical escape room experiences took popularity in the 2000s as well. What all escape rooms have in common is that they offer team-based live-action games based on solving a series of steps to get to the final solution within a time limit (typically one hour). Each room has a different theme and a different goal. For example, stopping a runaway train, solving a murder mystry, or securing stolen art from a museum.
It’s estimated that there are now over 50,000 escape rooms in the world! And the number is still growing as the demand for new and exciting experiences increases.
TYPES OF ESCAPE GAMES
The genre that started with simple computer games has evolved into many different types of escape games:
1. Video games. Escape the room computer games have continued to develop into more and more sophisticated gameplay. But even as the games evolve, the core concept is still similar. The games put the player in the position of having to escape the virtual room.
2. Physical escape rooms. In-person escape room experiences are still gaining popularity in North America and across the world. And these games are becoming more and more accessible. Anyone can go together– family, friends, co-workers and more.
3. Virtual reality. The innovation of virtual reality has made traditional video games feel even more immersive and realistic. Virtual reality is an amazing medium for escape room play because the goal is for players to feel totally immersed in their experience of solving the room.
4. Escape games by mail. There are several companies that will send you your own escape room in a box! You can play with others or by yourself, but the goal is still to solve a series of clues– just with the supplies vs at a computer screen or a physical escape room.
ESCAPE GAMES IN THE FUTURE
The whole concept of escape games is actually still pretty new! This means that there is so much time for the whole genre to grow and develop.
At Breakout, we have seen our own escape room concepts evolve. In the beginning, our rooms were very “lock and key” based, focusing on physical locks and simpler props. But now, our newer rooms are much more “high-tech.” We’re working to create rooms with fewer physical locks, more (literal) moving parts, and more fun and surprises for all players.
We’re excited to see how the escape game genre evolves and what it will mean for the escape room industry!