In China you can pay to play a real-life escape the room game. The real-world games are inspired by the online Takagism games in which people have to click around and gather clues to find out how to escape a building.

This is an interesting way that casual online games have made their way into real world activities.

Shanghai Daily has a story on a local gaming group’s adventure:

A millionaire is kidnapped and a squad is sent to save him, however, they are captured and knocked unconscious. When they awake, they find themselves in a locked room; their hands are chained to each other, but each person has one free hand. The only way to escape is to gather all the clues in the room.

This is the situation in which real-person players of takagism, a popular computer adventure game, find themselves.

First they solve number puzzle or soduku, which enables them to open the coded locks on their handcuffs.

Global Times has a window in the business of the operation:

Using a one-room apartment spanning 50 square meters, the 10 different games the club has developed have different scenarios, including one based on American horror movie Saw that requires two chained men to escape a bathroom. At 50 yuan ($7.90) per person for an one-hour game, it requires two to six participants. Huang offers real-life gamers a simple explanation of the rules and outlines their task. Groups who successfully solve the puzzles are rewarded with either cash or gifts.

“A lot of people initially thought our club presented a life-death situation. Actually, what we offer is game of knowledge, logic and reasoning,” chuckled Huang, who used to work in the advertising industry. “Although some scenarios seem terrifying, we only make them appear like that to enhance the experience.”

For example, staff at the club sometimes put a clock in the room that shows a different time to the real time. “This is to encourage participants to look at their watch and figure out the time difference, so they know can surmise which country the story is unfolding in,” said operation manger Chen Lei.


Escape the Game book cover

Get my book Escape the Game to find out even more ways to design your escape room.