The Escape Game
This is something I hadn’t heard of before: The Real Escape Room Game. Apparently the first Real Escape Room Game has opened in Richmond, just south of Vancouver, Canada, where I live, and must be one of the first in Canada.
Teams pay money to be locked in variously themed rooms and must find a way out within a time limit. It’s a craze popular in Asian countries at the moment and now is beginning to appear more prominently in North America. The game apparently began in Japan several years ago, and the wave of its popularity has worked its way to China, Malaysia, Singapore and much more recently to a few places on this side of the Pacific.
It used to be that cultural innovation and trendiness might come from the eastern United States, especially New York, or from Europe, say Paris or London. These days, and what will increasingly be the case, the Asian countries are exerting their own brand of cultural sway over the young and hip.
The version of the game that just started here has four themed rooms: the Lost Ship, Ancient Egypt, Prison Escape and Laboratory Escape. Four to six people pay $23 each to enter one of these rooms to work together to find their way out within 45 minutes.
The proprietor claims that it’s perfect for speed dating. Put three pairs of guys and girls in a locked room with a few clues and they will learn about each other’s personalities in short order.
Apparently only about one percent of the teams are successful. They are photographed and put up on the Wall of Fame, while the other 99 percent are also photographed and clipped to a Tree of Shame, which is apparently the way it’s played in Asia.
Of course, there can be frustration. The owner charges $50 for broken props. He showed off to a local newspaper a table top strewn with broken locks. “Use intelligence, not violence,” he says.
It can be a combination of role-playing, depending on the theme, and those Solve A Murder Mystery parlor games, with considerably more intensity involved.
I discovered online at least one other Canadian outfit running the game in Ontario called “Adventure Rooms Canada.” They describe their way of doing it:
Your group has 60 minutes to find its way out of a mysterious room. This is accomplished by using logic, searching for clues and using unique items in the room to help you get through obstacles like locks and doors, etc. Once your team makes it through all the of the puzzles contained within the room you will find the final key; and unlock yourself to freedom. Only 30% of teams have escaped so far. Will you?
The adventure is very thrilling, but not dangerous at all. It contains no horror elements, requires no physical exertion and is suitable for ages 11-77. Our game is unique in the genre because it focuses on the puzzles and experiments with real objects, rather than being based on a specific theme or story.
We may feel we lack adventure and community in our daily lives, often especially the young, as we put widgets, systems of widgets, or instructions to systems of widgets together, and perhaps commute long distances together in isolation to do so.
This remedy seems a little artificial and perhaps too theatrical for me though. I think I prefer to go on a good hike in beautiful scenery with my wife or with a friend. But it might be fun to try it out, as another form of escape.
The image comes from an American company called SCRAP in San Francisco, California which runs their version of the Escape Room game.