Escape Rooms are the newest location-based entertainment segment to embrace virtual reality and one where the value proposition is the strongest. Escape rooms harken back to ancient Greece, where labyrinths were a part of mythology. The athenian hero Theseus had to navigate a labyrinth to find and kill the Minotaur. Hedge mazes were popular with royalty from the 16thcentury on, found in elaborate English gardens.
In more recent times, escape games came in video game form, such as the 1988 text-adventure game Behind Closed Doors by John Wilson. Puzzle games with rich graphics followed in the 1990s with games like Myst. Toshimitsu Takagi released Crimson Room in 2004, generating hundreds of millions of plays.
The world’s first real-life escape room is widely credited to Takao Kato, who in 2007 opened Real Escape Game in Japan. By 2011 they were expanding into Asia, Europe, and North America.
In the 2010’s physical escape rooms popped up in Asia, Europe, and the Americas. By 2018 there were more than 5000 escape rooms in more than 1000 cities across 88 countries. It’s become a global phenomenon.
Escape rooms are a part of the trend of Millennials, having grown up with a preponderance of digital entertainment, being attracted to analog and physical experiences. From vinyl records to pinball and even a physical recreation of the game Pong, tactile experiences are the new rage.