Secret Cinema is famous for its “live cinema” experiences. They released tickets for Secret Cinema Presents Blade Runner – The Final Cut at 12 on February 1st. Just a few hours later, their ticket provider’s entire website crashed due to “overwhelming demand”.
Fire Hazard’s Codebreakers – where people solve codebreaking puzzles across multiple museums in Cambridge – sold out in just a few weeks.
Booking for the Cambridge Science Festival opened on February 12th at 11 AM, and the physics escape room Escape the Lab sold out at 11:05.
What is going on here?! Passive entertainment is easy to get your hands on these days, so there’s a huge demand for events where people can fully immerse themselves a story.
Escape rooms are one part of this trend, and they have absolutely exploded over the last few decades. The world’s first escape room, “Real Escape Game” was only created in 2007 in Japan. It was modelled after escape room video games, where gamers are stuck inside of a room and must solve puzzles in order to escape the room. They spread to Europe, starting in Hungary and then popping up all over the continent. As of 2015, there were 2,800 permanent escape rooms all across the world.
But why have so many people gotten so hooked? We popped into Cambridge-based escape room company Lockhouse Games on our first visit to Cambridge and had a chat with Lockhouse’s lovely owner Paul Chapman.
With his help, I think I understand the main reasons people (including me) love escape rooms:
Have you ever worked on a riddle or a video game or a skill that you just couldn’t figure out – until you finally did? Escape rooms give you that feeling times a thousand.
If you’re looking for a safe way to get a powerful adrenaline rush, escape rooms are the perfect solution.
You’re a part of the story
It’s rare that a piece of entertainment puts you at the centre of the story, but escape rooms do just that. In Lockhouse’s Armageddon, the fate of the world is on YOUR shoulders, and the ticking timer won’t let you forget about that. Paul put it this way: “Most entertainment is fairly passive and we reckon that the active nature of the active of an escape game gives a very different experience.”
Escape the room, escape your problems
You’re stuck in the room, the clock is ticking… there is nothing keeping you from being totally immersed in the experience. You can’t look at your phone or worry about anything outside of those four walls. Paul thinks that escapism is a big part of the escape room thrill: “You get so involved in the game that you forget about the whole rest of the world, and as the time pressure increases you get completely lost in your adventure.”
Lockhouse has three incredible rooms to sink your teeth into. We here at Race for Science are really excited about Armageddon because it is set in a secret laboratory and has a scientific theme, but Paul’s personal favourite is Egyptian Tomb because it’s so thematic and immersive. “You‘re in partial darkness and there are lots of challenges that are a bit more physical than normal – we’re talking tunnels, heavy blocks and sliding doors.” Plus, Egyptian Tomb is Paul’s favourite room to act in – “I play Anubis, Egyptian Lord of the dead!”
A successful Secret Agent team!