Even in our establishment, which has been open since 2018, we have seen our rooms change and evolve. That’s just in individual escape rooms. The escape room industry as a whole has seen enormous changes from not really being a thing at all to being a huge multinational phenomenon. Since the explosion of escape rooms as a popular form of entertainment the developments in the industry have carried on and are going into really different and interesting places. As such, here is a bit about the evolution of escape rooms from inception to the future.
The ‘Before’ Times
Before escape rooms were a thing in real life, they were computer games. The first ‘escape a room’ based game dates all the way back to those text based games we all (well, some of us) remember from the 80s. The Behind Closed Doors game, by John Wilson, came out in 1988 and while these text type games quickly faded away after the more popular point and click games came out, the concept of escape games continued and grew in popularity. These games got a huge boost in 2004 with the release of Crimson Room, by Toshimitsu Takagi. Not only a game that would go on to be very popular, but also largely credited with being the first escape room game in a format we would recognise today.
Making it Real
In 2007, another Japanese gentleman called Takao Kato decided to make these games into a real life adventure. The game he created was a one room puzzle solving experience that looked a lot like a modern ‘pop-up’ (an escape room temporarily installed into a room designed for something else) escape room. The concept quickly took off and spread across Japan and beyond. While many people credit this game as the origin of escape rooms, there are other schools of thoughts that credit other games either instead or as well as this one. Some people claim that we wouldn’t have modern escape rooms if it hadn’t been for the Channel 4 programme, The Crystal Maze, for example. Escape rooms being popular in Europe is largely attributed to a game in Budapest called Parapark dreamed up by Attila Gyurkovics while he was playing an online escape game with his girlfriend. After launching the game, which cost the equivalent of around £20 for him and his friends to put together, the concept quickly took off around Budapest and then the rest of Europe.
To Infinity and Beyond
Parapark opened in 2011 (and is still going). Since then, escape rooms have popped up everywhere ranging from small one room games to enormous ones filling whole buildings or even huge abandoned bunkers like the world’s largest one in Ottawa, Canada. Themes for escape rooms seem to be everything from pirates to politics and shops to under the sea. We see outside escape room experiences, pop up escape rooms in pubs, shopping centres and historical buildings. During the pandemic, we even saw escape rooms going back online with people playing over Zoom etc. There is also a rise in virtual reality escape rooms available. So what’s next? More use of augmented reality in escape rooms? Ever more technologically advanced rooms? Combining escape rooms and assault courses? All this is happening right now and more. Exciting, isn’t it?
While we wouldn’t claim to be at the cutting edge of brand new escape room technology, we have done some cool stuff like our Preston Manor pop-up games and outdoor escape room/treasure hunt experience, Puzzle Parade. We also have some really fun escape rooms with unique themes so please feel free to get in touch to ask us about them. Give us a call on 01273 220388 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.