The “Escape Room’s” Path To The United States
The growth of escape rooms throughout the world is phenomenal. Seemingly gaining in popularity each year, the idea is obviously something that captures the imaginations of people from every walk of life.
But where did the idea come from? And how did they make their way into your backyard?
In 2007 the very first “live” escape room opened in Japan. Inspired by escape room style video games, Takao Kato, the founder, wanted to create an experience for people that would require them to answer riddles and solve puzzles in order to “escape”, timing them as they go.
The idea took off and the popularity of escape rooms exploded in Asia over the next five years. As it did, the concept began to spread across the globe, with the first live escape room opening in Europe in Budapest, Hungary in 2011. With each new escape room experience, founders innovated new ways to challenge visitors, adding in elements like team building exercises and role-playing.
The same company, SCRAP, that started it all in Japan was assumed to be the first to enter the market in the United States, opening “Real Escape Game” in 2011 in California. Since that initial entry, the popularity of escape rooms has skyrocketed, growing from 22 escape room companies in 2014 to over 1,800 by 2017.
Why they have become such a phenomenon isn’t immediately easy to see. But, after you try a game yourself, it becomes much clearer. Escape rooms challenge you in unique ways, asking you to think outside of the box, which very few things in our day-to-day lives require. They also bring people together, which is maybe the real truth behind why we love them so much. In a world that feels more and more digitally isolating, getting to do something in real life and with other people is refreshing (and fun).