TJS Services is a leading national facility services provider. We deliver quality cleaning, maintenance, construction and facility management services to over 1,500 sites Australia wide. Our…read more
Escape rooms expand gaming concepts into live-action experiences
Industry operators around the world would all like to see their customers and members stay longer, but a fast growing global trend is seeing attractions actually locking them in.
In just a few years, Escape room games, also known as exit games and puzzle rooms, have grown operate at more than 3,000 locations worldwide, with more than 50 in Singapore and close to 60 across Australia.
Occupying a small space, generally about the size of a couple of shipping containers, the idea behind these low-cost live-action games is simple: Lock a small group of people in a space with a challenging series of clues and puzzles and give them 45 minutes to an hour to find hidden objects, solve riddles, open locks, crack clues and beat the clock to escape.
Inspired by online gaming and horror entertainment, Escape rooms are themed in a variety of ways so as to be appropriate to different ages and interests, and can be found not only in family entertainment centres and attractions but also in atmospheric inner-city buildings and a range of other locations including former warships, sport stadiums and the aforementioned containers.
A modern but low-tech, real life entertainment option, Escape rooms are suitable for families, groups of friends, parties and corporate events, and have been engaging guests around the world.
Players might find themselves as sleuths solving a murder-type mystery, escaping zombies, defusing a bomb, serving as a secret agent, exploring a tomb, following Alice through the keyhole in Wonderland, trapped in a medieval dungeon, or escaping Armageddon.
In most locations, game masters monitor the rooms using CCTV cameras and guests can ask for help. If a team is struggling, the game master can drop hints to push it in the right direction and allow it some extra time.
Explaining their attraction, John Hennessy, owner of Escape Room L.A. commented “here is an experience where you are together, you need to work together, you are in a strange environment and you have to figure things out and it's all about communicating and having a shared experience which I think people are really starving for because of all the technology that we use.”
In Hong Kong, the South China Morning Post suggested that Escape rooms even have a social role, “striking a chord in the crowded city of seven million, as highly stressed students and overworked young professionals and students look for a way to escape, literally.”
The first Escape room is generally acknowledged as having been launched in Kyoto, Japan in 2007. Run by the company SCRAP, they have since expanded to combine with large scale events around Asia and the USA in venues like sports stadiums and even the hull of a battleship.
Since then international locations such as Singapore and the Hungarian capital of Budapest have become Escape room hotspots.
Commenting on the growth, Richard Lemarchand, co-chair of USC interactive Media & Games Division explains “the proliferation of escape rooms all around the world is a sign that this is an important business, one that is growing rapidly and seems to be sustainable.”
In Australia, Funlab, which operates Strike Bowling and SkyZone trampoline arenas, is the largest operator of Escape rooms, under its ‘Escapism’ Brand.
With 15 rooms in operation within Strike sites, Funlab plans to explore significant growth both in additional Strike venues (with nine new rooms currently in planning for 2017), future SkyZone attractions as well as a stand-alone and a franchise model. Funlab Group Operations Director, Blaise Witnish explains “We’ve got a variety of rooms suitable for people of all ages, but it’s also the best and newest team-building activity out there.”
Escape games are also becoming an unconventional training tool - with corporate companies taking employees out of the boardroom to bond.
Here Witnish adds that Escape rooms “require cooperation, communication, concise and clever thinking and a whole lot of fun. They are the perfect way to take the tediousness out of corporate events.”
The popularity of Escape rooms is currently also impacting larger attractions around the world, with new developments at many theme parks including immersive lands rather than high-tech rides.
Game designer Richard Lemarchand, Associate Professor in the Interactive Media & Games Division of the School of Cinematic Arts at the University of Southern California, predict Escape rooms may soon embrace technology, commenting “I think we are going to see new kinds of Escape rooms that might use apps on our phones, to give us even richer interactions with the puzzles in the space and with our teammates and that allow the games’ designers to tell a complex evolving story.”
The sector seems ready to introduce more elaborate experiences as it matures, with some operators potentially set to replace traditional Escape room devices like padlocks in favour of software-based and custom-built solutions while others are introducing role-playing actors.
The concept of Escape rooms was explored in a feature in the May/June 2016 issue of Australasian Leisure Management.
Click here to subscribe and access that issue.
4th June 2016 - ESCAPE ROOM EXPERIENCE TO OPEN IN CHRISTCHURCH
8th April 2016 - SKY ZONE OPENS LARGEST TRAMPOLINE PARK IN THE SOUTHERN HEMISPHERE
13th September 2015 - NEW BOWLING CENTRE A HIGH POINT OF ENTERTAINMENT AND PUZZLES
12th June 2013 - GAMING ATTRACTIONS ANTICIPATE ‘ZOMBIE’ TREND
Asking a small favour
We hope that you value the news that we publish so while you're here can we ask for your support?
The news we publish at www.ausleisure.com.au is independent, credible (we hope) and free for you to access, with no pay walls and no annoying pop-up ads.
However, as an independent publisher, can we ask for you to support us by subscribing to the printed Australasian Leisure Management magazine - if you don't already do so.
Published bi-monthly since 1997, the printed Australasian Leisure Management differs from this website in that it publishes longer, in-depth and analytical features covering aquatics, attractions, entertainment, events, fitness, parks, recreation, sport, tourism and venues management.
Subscriptions cost just $90 a year.
Click here to subscribe.
The Complete Guide to Leisure Industry Products & Services.
Since 1989 Elite Pool Covers have designed and manufactured an extensive range of high quality affordable manual,semi-automatic and fully-automatic pool cover systems for the harsh Australian…read more
Fun Wheels Pty Ltd are the premium dealer in Australasia for the Dutch company BERG’s commercial and domestic products. Our flagship product is their revolutionary pedal go-kart – the…read more
Headquartered in Brisbane with an Australia-wide network of satellite offices, PaySmart is one of Australia’s largest and longest-standing direct debit billing companies. In 1996 we began…read more
Playrope Aqua-Fun, are the Australian & New Zealand exclusive distributors for Vortex Aquatic Structures International, the world leader in aquatic playgrounds and urban water landscapes.…read more
Aerobic Microphones Australia provides audio products for the fitness industry. Products include the sweat resistant Cyclemic and Aeromic headworn microphones and pouchbelts that are made in…read more
Quayclean are a national cleaning and waste services partner with proven results in the understanding and delivery of cleaning needs and challenges faced by facilities including; major venues and…read more
Ecoline is a highly experienced and skilled company that offers world-first technology in safety, protects the environment and provides a unique and challenging custom-made adventure and educational…read more
get listed with our suppliers directory
Get your business noticed in our targeted directory. Viewed by 10,000 industry professionals per week!