A Brief History of Room Escape Games

As far as trends go, there have been few things more newly popular over the past few years than escape rooms. 

This group activity, which places participants in a locked room and forces them to solve clues to get out, has become a major hit all over the world. Escape rooms of varying levels, complexities, and themes now exist in cities everywhere. 

But where did this fascinating new fad originate from? You might not know, even if you’ve done an escape room many times. Read on, and we’ll walk you through the history of room escape games. 

Digital Origins 

When we think of an escape room, we think of them as the physical group activity that we know today. But their origins actually come from a very different, but still contemporary, source.

The original escape rooms were actually video games. Room escape games were a popular genre of video games in Japan. Players would have to interact with characters in a room, uncover clues, and move on to the next level. 

Historically speaking, the first real escape the room video game was invented in 2004. It was called Crimson Room, and it set the pace for further games to come. Although some argue that Motas, from 2001, is actually the first true escape the room game.

Transitions Into Real Life

It was only a few years later that a group decided to take the concept of escape rooms and bring them to a physical space. 

The Japanese company SCRAP started rolling out immersive, real-world escape rooms as early as 2007. Over the next few years, these rooms would become popular across Asia and then Europe. 

It wasn’t until the early 2010s that SCRAP came to America (under the new name, ‘Real Escape Rooms’). They began opening escape rooms in major US cities, and soon many other brands followed. In the years following, American-based companies began forming and opening their own rooms across the country.

Today, there are an incredible amount of escape room options for anyone looking to try out the experience. 

Influences and Origins

Where did escape the room games come from, in terms of their inspiration? In truth, there’s a wide variety of sources. 

In the beginning, the creators of escape the room games seemed to be inspired by their favorite literature and movies. There was also an element of treasure hunting that was brought to the games: finding clues and unraveling their meaning.

Live-action role-playing games, such as Dungeons and Dragons, also had some influence over the development of these games. In LARP games, a person has to interact with others and make decisions in order to progress. It was one of the first examples of bringing a video game mindset into the real world. 

This example proved to be quite influential for those who helped transition escape rooms into the worldwide hit they are today.

Origins of Room Escape Games

You may have played through many room escape games before, but were you aware of the history behind the trend? Many aren’t, and it’s actually quite fascinating. 

Want to hear about more wild and strange historical marvels? Check out our blog for more.