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About escape games

ESCAPE GAMES AND THEIR HISTORY

Escape games are a kind of entertaining adventurous games whose main idea is to lock players inside a room. The task for players is to get out of the room in a set time limit by solving a series of brain-twisters, puzzles and codes. Escape games are based on computer escape games where a player is locked inside a room and s/he needs to explore his or her environment to manage to escape. The player needs to prove his or her attention, perceptiveness and critical analysis to get out of the room.

What was at the very beginning of this entertainment? The videogames mentioned above were the key inspiration. They date back to 1970s. At that time computer specialists were looking for ways how to increase the interaction of players and thus draw them deeper into virtual reality of games. The most remote direct forefather of today’s escape games was a not widely known game Planet Mephius whose author was Eiji Yokoyama. This game was launched in 1983 and it was available only in Japan. The basic gaming idea of a player who is locked in a room and needs to get out of the “trap” can be clearly recognized in games by John Wilson in 1988. The player was trapped in a toilet in his game and s/he had to find a way how to get out. An enormous boom came in the period when Toshimitsu Takagi from Japan created the game Crimson Room. There is even a new branch of computer escape games called Takagism which were named after the author. The game Crimson Room became viral on the Internet and a lot of other similar games were born thanks to the game. What the new kind of games had in common was a short introductory text which presented a game to its players. At first English translations were causing troubles and that’s why most games were available only in Japanese modifications. The characteristic feature of these games was trying to completely isolate the player from the outside world and letting the player get totally absorbed in the game. There were various means to an end and one of the very effective ones was music used in games. The player had to search the room by clicking on individual objects and places in the room. The game was usually played in one room and the object of the game was to escape through the door. And here we are really only one little step away from today’s real-life room escape games. Games where players are really locked in a real-life room have been inspired by their computer predecessors by the necessity to find a way out by solving various mysteries and quizzes.

In 2010 real-life room escape games started to be very popular in Japan, Taiwan, the USA and especially in China, of all countries in the world. At the same time in Europe, escape games are spreading mostly in Switzerland and Hungary and they are very popular there. Games are different in individual countries and they use various concepts and topics. There are escape games where a player has to escape for example from a prison cell, a space station or a village populated with wolfhounds.

The first real-life room escape game was the game called Origin. A group of programmers created it in Silicon Valley in San Francisko in 2006. The topic and scene of the game was inspired by Agatha Christie’s work. The game became a popular tourist attraction very fast. At the same time first escape games were beginning to appear in Hong Kong. They were designed for secondary school students as group activities organized during their school camps.

Japan, mentioned above, was another country where real-life room escape games found a lot of fans. The most popular one is called Real Escape Game and was made by 35-year-old Takao Kato. More than 200000 players all over the world have played his game – in Japan, China, Indonesia, Taiwan, Singapore and the USA. Another original game called Escape from the Mysterious Cathedral appeared in Singapore in 2011.

A boom in real-life room escape games came at the end of the year 2014. Nowadays real-life room escape games are being played in more that 50 countries and over 280 cities. According to experts and psychologists, the huge success of this “experimental entertainment” is backed by the fact that today’s people don’t want to be mere passive consumers who sit and watch various stories but they also want to take part in a story. This trend goes hand in hand with the development of human desire to experience something and learn new things in real life rather than in virtual reality.

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