In the modern world, the majority of people find entertaining opportunities online. In the digitalized world, there are just so many options on the internet to spend your evening pleasantly, even with your family and friends. Watching adventurous movies or TV shows on Netflix is the way many people escape everyday stress, but others choose to make the escape more interesting and real.
Escape Rooms: What Are They and Where Did They Come from?
To put it in the simplest terms, it is a room or a larger space, in which a team of players is trapped and have a goal to escape it. They are full of clues and challenges for players to overcome. Although the industry is new, it has developed and diversifies immensely throughout the last decade. Now one can come across venues with different themes, including those based on popular TV shows and movies, such as Harry Potter, Doctor Who, and even Stranger Things! The BBC even unveiled its iconic Sherlock-themed escape room in London in December 2018, featuring exclusive footage by the star of the show. The popularity of escape rooms has grown so much that major entertaining corporations are also trying to get a piece of this cake.
Where Do They Come from?
Surprisingly for many, escape rooms do not originate from Europe or the United States. It was first transformed into reality buy a former Japanese publishing worker, Takao Kato. He wanted to create an alternative way for people to have fun with friends and family – away from the screens. He gave an interview to the Japan Times in 2009, saying “I wondered why interesting things didn’t happen in my life as they did in books. I thought I could create my own adventure, a story, and then invite people to be a part of it”. With this, he ended up opening the first escape room in 2018, under the brand name of SCRAP, in Kyoto.
It soon became an international success. Similar spaces started popping up at first in Japan and later across the entire continent of Asia. China soon became another important market on the continent.
However, Western markets did not see an escape room until 2011. That was when Attila Gyurkovics decided to set up an escape dungeon in his native Hungary. However, initially, he had no idea that escape rooms had already established themselves in Asia. Soon, the continent’s first venue opened in Budapest, called “Hint Hunt”. This was followed by SCRAP which expanded into the United States, one of the largest consumer markets in the world. From that point, the escape room industry exploded in different corners of the world.
Escape Rooms in The UK
Some of the best escape rooms in London and in the rest of Britain attract a growing number of people. They have different themes and difficulty levels and range from small, 40 sq.m rooms to former industrial buildings covering much larger floor areas.
It did not take long for Britons to respond to this soaring global trend. The UK is the birthplace of hundreds of super-popular TV shows and movies. Brits who grew up in the 90s, watching iconic Crystal Maze were immediately drawn to newly opened escape rooms in their local areas. As a result of the immense popularity, nowadays, there are over 1500 escape rooms across the nation and here are some of the best.
The Crystal Maze in London and Manchester
A true cultural marvel – channel 4’s unforgettable show has come alive in two UK cities – London and Manchester. Its immense, continuous popularity from the 1990s makes it a very popular space among Britons. The escape game is played by four teams of 8 at a time, each session lasting for 90 minutes. No worries – the crystal dome is there and it looks surprisingly realistic. All in all, it is an amazing way to spend time for anyone, but the Crystal Maze fans will certainly enjoy it the most.
Mission Breakout in Camden, London
The South Kentish tube station in Camden opened in 1907 and has been disused since 1924 for almost an entire century. It is an impressive venue with lots of history and many stories behind it. The escape room has two main experiences. One is based on the story of Mr. Brackett when the train accidentally stopped at the station after its closure in 1924 and was never seen again. The other focuses on WWII, specifically on decoding the Nazi messages. Both of the experiences are set up in the old tube station’s mysterious building. It can host up to 12 players at a time.
Do Stuff Escape Games in Battersea, London
Having a very vague name, this South West London venue offers two completely different experiences. The first one is called “Hostage Hideout”, during which a team of players is help hostage and need to solve a number of puzzles to escape. It is considered to be a difficult escape room, but certainly worth trying. Another one is called “Pie & Mash Shop”. Yes, the experience happens in a restaurant. Players are asked to investigate what happened to the missing restaurant owner. The crucial here is timing, as the team is expected to have the answer before time runs out.
These along with other escape room experiences can now be found in almost every UK town and amid the popularity, their number is expected to increase.