Real-Life Escape-the-Room Games Gaining Popularity in China

Have you ever fantasized about starring in a real-life Saw-like scenario where you’re forced to look for clues in order to escape a locked windowless room before time runs out? Apparently many Chinese have, as more and more of them flock to various real-life room-escape game locations across the country.

Inspired by a computer game called “Takagism”, in which players had to find a way out of virtual locked room by searching their surroundings and manipulate objects in search for clues, real-life escape-the-room games have rally taken off in China during the last few months. A team of players is locked in a maze of dark, eerie rooms and have to work together in order to find clues to help them escape before the allotted times runs out. They are not allowed to use smartphones or any kind of gadgets or books to solve the rooms’ puzzles and must rely solely on their knowledge and skills to beat all challenges. Real Takagism club operators say teamwork, a good leader and the ability to keep calm and focused under pressure are key to escaping the locked rooms within the time limit, but the puzzles can be really tough and only the best succeed. For example, at Freeing Hong Kong, an escape game location in Hong Kong, only one in five teams make it out of the rooms before their time runs out.


Photo: China News

Every room in the real-life game has a specific theme, ranging from murder scenes, to abandoned hospital rooms, supernatural settings, mirror rooms and even Saw-inspired settings that require two chained men to escape a bathroom, hopefully without having to cut their legs off. Puzzle increase in difficulty as players progress through the rooms, going from simply locating a trap door under the rug to deciphering codes and discovering vital clues. The challenge can be upgraded according to participants’ wishes, making the game even tougher to beat. The people who create the puzzles go out of their way to make them truly interesting, taking inspiration from detective novels and popular thrillers. The whole experience is monitored by game organizers via surveillance cameras.


Photo: China News

The realistic experience first took China’s first-tier cities by storm, but its popularity grew at a fast pace, and there are now room-escape locations in second and third tier cities around the country, with reservations made with up to a month in advance. Most venues don’t offer any prizes, just the fulfillment of having beat the game or the humiliation of having the door opened for you and the opportunity to try again, but there are some who reward players with either cash or gifts.


Sources: Shenzen Daily, China Daily, Kotaku

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