The handcuff puzzle only took about 10 minutes and required everyone to actually work together (no quarterbacking).
Is it? How does this work? Are there regular checks and do escape rooms need to register or how are they discovered?
If it’s unsafe, they can close the business until the issues has been resolved.
I wouldn’t call it heavy enforcement, and it’s not perfect. People die in commercial fires not too infrequently in the US.
Though most all urban areas have enforcement, many smaller areas do not.
Oh, plans. Right, and then half of the shops put a (real steel) chain and padlock (or a large piece of furniture) on the emergency exit, or they use the exit stairway as storage. But indeed on the plans there is an emergency exit anyone can open if needed.
Unless you are the government. Then you can lock your fire exits and let your fellow bureaucrats die. It's the Chicago way.
Yes, you can just build a wall or a door, even in the USA. I've done it. It may not be according to code, but that's the very issue here: enforcement. Until someone dies, how do they know? Surprise inspections are exceptionally rare. There's just way too many buildings.
I've even had modifications "inspected" by the fire department, multiple times. I put that in quotes because I've only ever seen them count the number of automatic sprinklers in the building (which did not change), or look to see if we had fire extinguisher signs, and a fire extinguisher under each one.
I've even seen the FD (in a modern American city) respond to and put out an actual fire, and not care that the building did not match the permit plans.
I'm curious what your experience is, as there is no aspect of this which I would describe as "heavily enforced".
Don’t do it. Those plans and codes are there for a reason.
But then again I was a firefighter, so if I see a code violation I'll call the fire marshal. I expect other firefighters would do the same, off duty or not.
Good examples of sprawled cities include LA and Houston.
You can't have an emergency exit that locks, it must always be openable from the inside. You get huge fines for an emergency exit that is blocked in any way, and the fire inspectors will shut down your business until it is fixed.
The system isn't perfect but it works most of the time, fire deaths in the US are quite rare.
So this could happen with any room which does not have window or backsoor.
If you're in SF and build it custom, you can make some money. If you are in a random place with low rent and you buy an off the shelf game, you can make a ton.
If anyone is interested in building one and has questions, ask away!
How’s the best way to measure if the market is saturated?
If those 5 have gotten enough people to come, most of their patrons will happily come do yours, too. You're not really "competing". In a way, you're more like a movie than a movie theater.
Could escape rooms go on tour like theatrical productions? Producers swap escape room teams/spaces between cities? Professional roadies who are expert in setup/teardown?
There's also many companies that sell escape room plans. So rather than creating your own, you'd spend $5-10k to "buy" one and then build it yourself. They usually guarantee a X-mile radius that you'll be unique, so that you aren't competing against the same game.
The escape room in my town reconfigures every once in a while, I've done about 5 different "rooms" there that have all been very different. Sometimes the theme requires you to know something about the topic to solve the room (examples: star wars room, comic book room). To be honest they probably rotate the rooms.
Books are completely indefensible. There are billions of the things, and new ones get written all the time. I made some money. I was and am very happy to have written books.
Is writing books a good business? Perhaps not, if viewed through the “The world is divided into unicorns and NOOPs” lens. But I don’t look at the world through that lens.
See also: Making music, opening a social pub, running a day care, organizing festivals or conferences...
Also, if there are more than about 13 in your market, you’re going to have problems getting noticed because the review sites have huge first mover bias.
In general, the market is over saturated, and will probably see more closures than openings over the next year.
1- Are you making profit? How long did that take you to be profitable?
2- In what do your spend money? Mind sharing a breakdown?
3- Who is your typical customers? Do they come back? How do you reach them?
1/ The up-front costs were $30k for me, and it took about 8 months to make it back. After operating costs, I make anywhere from $1k to $5k/mo. (Once in a while I lose money)
2/ I want to do a real blog post, but high level: $3.5k rent, $2k for a manager, $2k for labor, $1k for other utilities, and then money on things like adwords, etc.
3/ They would come back, except we only have one room! On weekends we get a lot of tourists, on week days we get a lot of team bonding from startups and larger companies. So, while they don't come back, their coworkers tend to. (This is atypical for most escape rooms in the US, though. Most have 3-5 rooms, and very few "company outings".)
Most people I know did it with some other people from work. Also myself, somebody at work asked and we went with around 10 people to a place with two rooms.
you can literally play the “same” room hundreds of times. how about designing the room and having your friends bash their heads against the wall. this space is ready for disruption!!!
I think you underestimate the skill and time it requires to make engaging puzzles.
The big chains will solve the repeatability issue by swapping puzzles around their world locations. I assume they are doing this already.
Best comparison point I can think of are roguelikes, but even if you can figure out a way to make custom hardware build-out easy, roguelikes largely work by making replayability cheap. It's hard to build an on-ramp to teach players about the interactions of complex systems when each playthrough costs them $50+ and takes an hour plus transpotation time.
For example, company signs up for an ostensible corporate off-site retreat meeting that suddenly turns into a team-building (obviously fake) kidnapping. (Blindfolding, and moving to the maze, kidnappers go elsewhere but can be overheard arguing about ransom, then the group manages to untie each other, and try to escape the building, while whispering and evading the occasional guard, time element when they overhear kidnapper threatening to wait only 10 more minutes for ransom call, etc. There could even be a second part, in which the team gets to a dead end, with a cache of laser tag toys, obviously to fight the rest of their way out of the building, and can team-building heal each other when they get hit.) Followed by refreshments, with messages from manager/CEO or product brainstorming, etc.
I'm pretty sure the exact above thing would never get past HR at some companies, but I've heard of big-name dotcoms doing questionable parties and team events, so maybe enough companies would pay enough for it?
I’ve been on several teams that have done escape rooms, and most have some form of narrative / role-playing (there’s a decent cross section of murder-mystery, fantasy, etc etc, depending on the folks running the room). But the idea of tricking people into participating, especially with so many “fake” hostile elements, is a big red flag. The reason this wouldn’t get past HR at some companies is because those companies have an HR team that knows a land mine when they see it.
I do agree with what it seems your overall point was: that “escape room”-style team-bonding exercises could have merit, and also the idea that escape-rooms with a strong / compelling narrative are probably themselves more engaging / thought-provoking. The specific example happens to be bad, and the element of surprise has issues, but please don’t let that detract from the concept as a whole.
At the very beginning of the room, lbhe grnz vf qvivqrq vagb gjb qvssrerag wnvy pryyf naq n thneq jngpurf bar pryy ng n gvzr, sbeovqqvat pregnva npgvivgvrf juvyr jngpuvat gung pryy; rnpu pryy unf gb uryc gur bgure va pregnva jnlf va beqre gb rfpncr. (I've only shared information that you receive before the game starts.)
This is the closest I've been to what you described.
Any other example might've been better. I would personally not want to take part in such a thing, having been practically kidnapped and sexually assaulted, myself.
I'm also sorry, I stupidly didn't consider that anyone would've actually been kidnapped before, and wasn't actually thinking about this seriously. (I was thinking of much lighter reasons some customers' HRs might object.) Please disregard the above scenario suggestion.
I appreciate your sympathies. Life sucks sometimes.
Last time I went we were only a group of four so we had a couple join us.
The way I would imagine that would be better than to have puzzles that can be switched from a real puzzle to a "trap" puzzle. A trap puzzle would be a red herring especially designed for people who did the original puzzle.
For example, in the the original puzzle you have to find blue stones that arrange to a specific pattern that correspond to a code. The trap version would be a few completely irrelevant blue stones that would be unlikely to grab attention to the people who didn't do the first puzzle. For example they could be used as dead weight for a scale-based puzzle or as rubbish the players has to look through in order to find the real clue.
The idea loosely comes from Danganronpa. An kinda escape room-like video game. The sequels tend to play with players expectations, sometimes confirming them, sometimes to turn them against the player.
Edit: I realize it is much easier said than done. However, non-replayability looks like such a big problem that I guess that it could be worth making a lot of extra effort.
Most people seem to think it doesn’t make sense, but there are people working on it. Hatch in LA is making a big bet on their upcoming game The Ladder, for example: https://www.hatchescapes.com/the-ladder
Introducing intentional red herrings in an escape game of any sort is a bad idea in my opinion. While it may be okay in a non timed video game, people don’t react well to that when on a clock.
A really subtle red herring can be fun, but in general they are just frustrating. A good game master will often step in and guide you through the game, but I remember at least one room where we've wasted like 15 minutes going into a wrong direction.
> non-replayability looks like such a big problem
Does it? I know a couple who owns an escape room (5 rooms in total). Their first room is now 4-5 years old and they thought about changing the puzzles (or create a whole new room), but people are still booking it. That is for a small city in Europe with only 2 escape room providers, so YMMV.
There are also a lot of board games that can be only played once, and their boom does not seem to diminish. The "Exit" series from Germany was even awarded "Spiel des Jahres" in 2017, and it's still releasing new non-replayable games.
I like the ones that reward you for exploring a little more but guide you towards what is solvable.
You switch starting rooms when round is over and there are 8 unique styles that rotate each week, there is a league with 14 teams in so far that complete a rotation which they are calling 'season'.
If you make extra puzzles that fit the theme of the room you can just change the path to what opens the next thing.
Some puzzles are obviously fixed in place, based on the room design but a lot of them could be swapped out depending on the room. You’d just have to make sure to say that if a specific puzzle was included, the proper clues were there.
Still, a mostly empty warehouse and a few sets of goggles seems more cost effective, and a virtual set would be easier to reconfigure and reload.
We can make it a cooperative multi-player game to get the teamwork effect of real escape rooms. An existing example would be "keep talking and nobody explodes", a cooperative, semi-VR game.
The thing is, as fun as it is might be, it is an entirely different experience. On one side you won't get the feedback of real life items and people. On the other side you can do things that would be too expensive, too dangerous or simply impossible to do in real life.
I’m sure bus-based ones have been done, but I haven’t heard of retro-fitting junk cars.
This, in turn, probably has a less direct relationship to films and TV episodes that focus on a single room to save budget or create psychological tension (as with the original Saw), without escape necessarily being a major theme.
However note the place in the article - they clearly put a lot of effort into it. The decor is well done and the puzzles are actually involved, even interactive.
I went on a cruise ship that had an escape room. It was incredibly well designed both from a puzzle and decor standpoint. It was also the most difficult room I've ever tried. It was a fake "submarine" like the one mentioned in the article, though the decor was even more realistic. There were multiple interactive puzzles that involved things like re-routing the flow of water through pipes or using a VR headset mounted on a "periscope" to scan the "surroundings" for clues. The sky's the limit on these, so to speak.
I'd never consider doing an escape room alone.
Escape rooms are just now getting into a consolidation phase after the big initial boom, but it hasn’t gone far enough to really squeeze poor quality out, so there’s more low end product out there than there should be.
To be fair, I don't mind the activities around the beach so much (shops, soft serve, etc). However, that's not what the majority of people want to do with their time.
But the easiest way I can describe it: it's like going to a really bad haunted house and it's my job to scare myself.
My wife and I like to play escape rooms together. There's just two of us, and we prefer a team size of 5-6. So I often hunt through booking pages for rooms that already have a team of 3-4 signed up, so that we can join them.
This tool lets me search for rooms that are available (which is almost all of them) or booked (which I think means fully booked - not clear). I would want to search for rooms that are partially booked, preferably with 3-4 people and room for 2 more to join.
Totally separate issue - the hardest part has been finding locations that we like. So far we've found two that we love a lot: the Great Escape Room in Miami and the Master Escape Room in Boca Raton. Of course we've played every room in both places. Yelp reviews are mostly written by people who just did their first escape room, and even frequent escape roomers like us seem to vary a lot in preferences.
This site also has a review feature. Please add some reviews :). It shows how many rooms the reviewer has done, so you know if it’s a new person or someone with experience.
1h isn't nearly enough to get in the mood, especially of they have good a story but you don't really have the time to read it.
Referring to a form of structured entertainment; not to be confused with "panic rooms" or "escape hatches".
(a) Although you can't really get repeat business until you create a new game, as long as you have at least 2 different games available at any one time a single group can trigger a cascade of business. It only takes one person from that group wanting to come back to play your other game, and quite often they'll bring new people. Then, if at least one of them comes back to do the first room, they'll bring new people as well. Etc. And of course, whenever you do get around to creating a new game the cycle can repeat.
(b) If you want to spend big bucks to make Hollywood-quality games in big cities, yeah you're not going to scale well. But if you create "generation 1" games (basically a series of padlocks, most needing a number or letter code) put them in everyday, contemporary settings, and focus on serving large suburbs and smaller towns, you can scale relatively well. Out of the 7 games I've created thus far, the most popular ones were the quickest and cheapest to build as they took place in a grandmother's home and a generic business office. Quite easy to find relevant decor and furnishings dirt cheap.
Yeah, escape rooms are not "big business". But I think what's impressing people is the ROI given the relatively minimal start-up capital and low overhead costs. I only spent $4,700 starting up my escape room business and in its first three years grossed over $100,000 in a tiny mountain town of only 17,000 people. While that isn't gangbusters, it's not bad for a little 20 hours a week side gig.