It is not the intention of this paper to present a detailed history of escape rooms, so a few precursors are presented as well as the genres of games from which escape rooms evolved. While Wikipedia (and the Wikipedia echo chamber) points to several rooms in 2006, the sources that Wikipedia points to for these facts no longer provide any information about these rooms; those in the escape room community have yet to discover any first-hand accounts or further details about these claims. The earliest well-documented activity calling itself an “escape game” was from the publishing company SCRAP, known as the Real Escape Game.
It was run in Kyoto, Japan, in July 2007 as single room game for teams of 5-6 players (SCRAP, 2007). Over the years, SCRAP has continued to run escape rooms, but has also become known for running a Real Escape Game Event, which is for hundreds or thousands of players in a large space. However, SCRAP’s first game was an escape room, much as is seen today in the facilities who participated in this survey. Rooms grew rapidly in 2012-2013 first in Asia, then across Europe (with Hungary being a significant hub), and then over to Australia, Canada, and the USA. There are numerous interactive media precursors to the Escape Room concept.
As part of this survey, the owners of escape rooms were asked what their inspiration was to start an escape room. About 65% of the survey respondents said that their inspiration came from playing in or learning about another escape room; common organizations named were SCRAP from Japan, Parapark in Budapest, Hinthunt in London, and Escape the Room in NYC. The rest of the respondents were not aware of other escape rooms when they started. Their inspiration came from a variety of sources. A few of them were inspired by adventure movies like the Indiana Jones series or horror films like Cube, Saw.