How Escape Rooms have Increased in Popularity
Over the past decade or so, it seems that escape rooms have been popping up all over the place – including here in London, where Omescape opened our doors to let the world come and solve our mysterious rooms. From team building at work to a family afternoon out, it seems as though everyone’s taking part in these riddle-solving games these days. But how did the popularity of escape rooms surge so quickly?
The History of Escape Rooms
To look at the rise of escape rooms, you have to start at the beginning – and this beginning happens to be in Japan. The first ever escape room video game, Crimson Rush, was created here by Toshimitsu Takagi way back in 2004, which is what inspired the real-life experiences we have today.
The video game led to the invention of the first real escape room in 2007 by Japanese company SCRAP. Takao Kato, the founder of the brand, said he wanted to create a game where players were completely immersed, playing physically in a themed room to collect clues, solve puzzles, and escape before the clock ran out of time.
From this original idea, a whole lot of escape games started cropping up all over Asia after other company’s saw the potential they had. An immersive, exhilarating game for all the family – what’s not to love? There was even a club founded in China in 2012 called the ‘Beijing Takagism’ club (takagism is the Chinese term for escape games).
Once their popularity was well and truly solidified in Asia, the games crossed the seas and started appearing in Europe. In 2011, Parapark was created – a company founded by Attila Gyurkovics – and they came up with the idea of a Live Escape Game before they even knew of what was going on in Asia! Attila actually had the idea whilst working on new team building project ideas. One year later, the first escape room opened in Hungary and was called Hint Hunt.
In the same year, SCRAP was also created in America, but under the name of Real Escape Game, and so the escape room was introduced into the US. Whilst it grew here, Hint Hunt quickly spread the concept across Europe, to the UK and France, and Canada was also introduced to the escape game concept in 2013.
Escape Rooms Today
Today escape rooms are hugely popular, with more and more opening up all the time. In the UK alone, the figures show almost 1,500 escape rooms were up and running in 2019, which was a massive increase on just a handful in 2014. According to The Economist, it’s likely there are over 10,000 escape rooms across the world now – that’s huge!
Why Escape Rooms Are So Popular
It’s not hard to see that escape rooms have become a hit across the globe, creating something of a phenomenon in how quickly their popularity grew. But why are these games so popular? What’s the big fuss?
To start with, the notion of playing in person rather than through a character on a screen is undeniably appealing. It actually gives you a better sense of pride when you do something, and it feels like you’re accomplishing far more. There’s something about playing first hand that virtual games just can’t compete with, and it drew people in immediately.
There’s also the immersive side of escape rooms. They transport you to a different world and let you live a fantasy for a little while – and humans love fantasy! As children, we’re also playing ‘make believe’, and these immersive games bring back a little of that, helping us tap into that childish wonder and imagination. It lets people escape the real world for a little while, forgetting what’s going on outside and letting them live in a pretend world for just an hour or two. It’s easy to see why that’s appealing.
Escape rooms can also bring people’s love of specific fantasy themes to life. There are escape rooms themed on everything from Dr Who to Sherlock Holmes, and people can play in these worlds as though they’re actually there. Who doesn’t want to bring their favourite show to life?
The game itself is also appealing, even without the themes. It gets people to think in a way they wouldn’t usually; puzzle solving and working hard to put solve clues, which is highly rewarding when you work them out. Some people even describe the thinking that goes into these games at meditative, becoming a stress-relief – which is ironic when you consider the adrenaline!
Why Not Give it a Go?
There are tons and tons of reasons why escape rooms have become so popular – far too many for us to mention all of them here! So, if you’re really interested, the best way to figure out what’s going on is to come and give one a go for yourself. Bring your friends along or use it as a work team building activity and experience the thrill of the immersive game first hand.
If you want to book a room or have any questions about escape rooms, why not get in touch with our team? We’re always happy to help!