A Word About Escape Room History

There is a constant competition going on for the “First Escape Room in the World” title and three countries claim to be the origin of our favorite one-hour madness: Was it Japan, the USA or Hungary that started it all? Let’s take a trip down memory lane:

We have already mentioned that escape rooms might have become so popular because they provide a similar experience to video games, but in the physical form, offering a real, authentic experience. At the same time, the logic behind escape rooms is actually based on a certain video game genre: the first point-and-click games in which one can progress from level to level by solving puzzles and using specific items from their inventory were the very beginning. If you are looking for a specific example, take a look at The Goblin series—they might not have aged too well, but their charm is timeless.

The MVP of escape room creation – manga!

In the early 2000s, the point-and-click genre evolved into actual escape room video games, in which you actually had to get out of and into rooms. The benchmark of the genre was the Crimson Room, published in 2004 by Toshimitsu Takagi. His name became one with the concept of escape rooms in the Far East.

It wasn’t long before escape games (“Takagism”) became reality, as the Japanese company SCRAP transformed the computer concept into a physical escape room in 2007. According to the company’s founder, Takao Kato, the goal was to get players actually immersed in the experience, and he drew the inspiration needed for escape rooms from the countless manga that he read. After a while, the game spread throughout the Far East, from Japan to China, Taiwan, Singapore and Indonesia.

However, in 2006, system programmers in Silicon Valley also built a similar concept to escape rooms. The Agatha Christie-themed "Origin" was a popular tourist attraction in California, but it didn’t blow up yet.

The big escape room boom

The first escape room in Europe opened in 2012, in Budapest, Hungary. It wasn’t long before Budapest basically became an escape room superpower, as it slowly infected the entirety of Europe with the craze. In 2014, there were at least 60 different escape rooms in the Hungarian capital. A BBC report praised the resourcefulness of escape room operators as the colorful and imaginative rooms laid down the foundation for modern escape rooms and reinforced Budapest’s role as the epicenter of the escape room boom.