The escape room phenomena has appeared in many countries. It is not difficult to see the precursors to this trend. Escape videos games have been around for more than a generation. And films like the Saw series have a similar premise. Even the James bond book Dr No from the late 1950s has a finale similar to an escape game. But watching the development of the trend does not explain its appeal. Why are escape rooms, and their literary precursors, appealing to us?
A few Chinese journalistic articles have tried to answer this question. They claim modern professional are worked hard in today’s society, keep busy on a strict schedule; this is something that they literally want to escape. Being confined to a small room, even handcuffed, normally shouldn’t seem like something we should find appealing. But we must remember that it is the escape we are looking forward to. Perhaps we already feel a little confined in our own life, and we want to feel we can escape it, at least symbolically.
Perhaps this should come as no surprise. The term ‘escapism’ has been applied to many form of entertainment for decades. Escape rooms manage to express this more literally, while also being a creative and intellectual exercise.
This is the view of those observing the gamers. But when we participate in the game we experience something different – mostly the dopamine and intense emotion of the situation. Which is not to say we don’t also have the afore mentioned desire to escape our routine lives. Just that we experience a few mild extremes when we do it.
Perhaps it’s what the Australian’s called the ‘claytons’ thing. We can go through the experience in an escape room without actually living experience. There is no risk, only the emotions involved.
Our motives may differ, which is good lest we all be the same, but try the escape room Sydney siders have found so attractive. Break out of a mindset or bad habit, if not the puzzle before you.