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Whether your friends and family have been raving about this new group activity or you saw your favorite sitcom characters going to one on TV, just what are these escape rooms you’ve been hearing about?

Simply put, escape rooms are real-life simulations of the adventure-style puzzle video games that inspired them. The first escape room was created in Japan around 2006 and caught on throughout Europe, North America, and the rest of East Asia in the early 2010s.

Since their inception, escape rooms have evolved considerably in such a short amount of time. Being as such, you can find three definitive “generations” or styles of puzzles in rooms currently. “First generation” style rooms typically rely heavily on traditional-style locks like number- or letter-combination locks and padlocks for their puzzles. “Second generation” rooms integrate more electronics like electromagnets, soundtracks, and typically have a way or tying all the puzzles together for one jaw-dropping final puzzle. “Third generation” rooms and puzzles are the current leading edge and have typically done away with all padlocks and combination locks in favor of computerized puzzles that activate with various magnet-activated or RFID sensor switches. 

As technology advances and escape rooms continue to gain popularity among the public, we’re sure to see even more automation and story-integration with newer rooms. Early rooms typically had a simple design and story line. However, as the rooms have grown in popularity and competition has grown, newer rooms strive for a higher level of realism by integrating the story and theme into the decor and puzzles as well as coming up with new and unique overall themes to entice escapees.

Being a relatively new entertainment business, there isn’t really a set standard for how escape rooms operate. This makes it so that every escape room business operates a little differently. Some appeal to a higher level of competitiveness by limiting the number of clues or hints escapees can ask for (if any) and escorting customers out of the room when the typically 60-minute timer runs out. Others, on the other hand, will offer as much or as little help as customers would like, and even allow escapees to stay a little over time to finish up the last puzzle or two and complete the room. Depending on the level of realism each escape room is striving for, they may offer a first clue to start off with once you’re in the room or simply let you loose to find the first clue on your own. Ultimately, you’ll want to find an escape room whose rules and style fit best for you and your group of friends and/or family.

At Entrap Games, we have a pretty even split between first- and second-generation puzzle rooms, but we’re working hard on getting things upgraded and switched out with newer tech and themes. We also prefer to strive for realism with our clues (as in your captor wouldn’t give you the first key to get out of their trap!) while maintaining a balance by letting people set their own pace and ask for as many clues or hints they feel they need.

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