A Perfectly Good Reason to Pay $30 to Be Locked in a Room

Fri, Mar 1, 2013

Casual, Frisky Misc, Puzzle, Social

If you’ve played mobile games like 100 Floors, you’ve at least dabbled in room-escape games, a subset of puzzle games where you are trapped in a thematic room of some kind and must hunt for tools, clues, and devices in order to open the exit. Chances are good that, at some point, you will find a key under a couch cushion, locate the code to a safe, and probably unscrew a vent cover. Now, in an especially intriguing social-local twist on the genre, a Japanese company called SCRAP is hosting the Real Escape Room, which works just like it sounds: You, and up to 10 other people, will step into a real-world escape room, where the game operators will lock you inside, and your team will have a limited amount of time to find your way out.

Real Escape Room has apparently imprisoned and amused over 20,000 players in Japan, China, and Taiwan, and now it’s our turn. “Escape from the Mysterious Room” is happening in San Francisco right now, and tickets are on sale for roughly $30 apiece. The game lasts about an hour, and the operators helpfully suggest you visit the restroom before being locked in.

Obviously, I’m intrigued by the idea of trying to solve one of these puzzles out in the real world; it’s basically the ultimate extension of alternate reality/location-enhanced gaming. However, I’m also a little worried about the removal of digital restrictions on my available options. Typically, when I’m playing an escape game and I’ve located, say, the screwdriver, my inclination is to try and use it on every available object to see what happens. Is there a key hiding inside that painting? Maybe I should gouge it open. Closed box with a tricky puzzle lock? Maybe I should pry the latch off. Angry game operator coming in to tell me I’m not following the rules? Screwdriver.

In all seriousness, though, if you’re in the Bay Area, you should definitely consider paying someone to lock you up. We may just go visit this game ourselves and report back.

Thanks to Jayisgames for the tip.

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