Imagine that you are trapped in a mysterious place and you must find the way out. The clock is ticking, tension is rising… something tells you that ’this shouldn’t be so difficult’… but still, you are challenged again and again. You suddenly discover how creative you can be and how much it helps to cooperate with the others, and forget about the outside world for an hour – all there is now is the TASK, the ’HERE AND NOW’…
This feeling is what Hungarian-American Csíkszentmihályi called the ’flow’: a state of mind where you are fully immersed in what you do, not even noticing how much time has passed. While cooking, reading, dancing, fixing a car, or doing basically ANYTHING you love and which also feels challenging; and this is exactly what happens while you’re playing a game.
The history of playing is as old as the history of mankind; but where and when has this whole escape game craze started? While there are a number of theories, they all agree that live versions originate from computer games. The first game where the player was trapped in a room and had to escape was John Wilson’s 1988 text adventure: Behind Closed Doors. The term ’escape the room’ came from Mystery of Time and Space, an online adventure game created in 2001 by Jan Albartus. In 2007, REAL ESCAPE GAME was created in Japan, the first attempt to imitate the world of video games in a live setting.
In 2011, a sociology student in Budapest, Hungary, came up with the same idea while playing an escape-the-room video game. Fascinated by the theory of flow, he combined the live video game concept with his knowledge in professional team-building. The first European escape game, ParaPark opened soon, followed by many more all over Budapest and Hungary. The craze soon spread all over Europe, arriving of course in Germany and München, too. Today, escape games can be found all over the world, offering challenging, quality game-time for everyone. (The following terms are all in use and refer to the same thing: ‘exit room’, ‘escape room’, ‘exit the room’, ‘escape the room’, ‘exit game’, ‘escape game’.)
While failing is sometimes half the fun, if you want a head start, keep in mind the following:
- Try out all of your ideas. Sometimes the solution will be where you least expect it, sometimes it will be ‘hidden in plain sight’.
- Search everywhere: look behind, under, go back and forward between rooms and spaces.
- Communicate, communicate, communicate: cooperation is key, so share your findings with the team.
- Ask for help if you need it: it is one of the key qualities for success in any field.
- Don’t think too hard – make sure you enjoy the game. :o)