Escape games go global from humble Hungary origins

Update: September, 06/2019 - 11:03
Rijksmuseum Escape Game. — AFP Photo

BUDAPEST — When Attila Gyurkovics created Europe's first escape game in Budapest, all he needed was some padlocks, a cellar, and a large helping of audacity.

But after first appearing in Japan in the 2000s, such immersion games have now gone global, offering a vast range of puzzling experiences that offer creative and fun ways to escape a sticky situation.

Whether solving a murder in a medieval crypt or saving the world from a deadly virus, the principle is always the same: players locked in an enclosed space quickly hunt for clues to find out how to exit "the room".

While the idea was still unheard of in Europe, Gyurkovics, a social worker, spent his spare time working out how to transpose into real life his passion for logic games and cracking codes.

His first escape room, Parapark, opened in 2011 in a dank sparsely-furnished cellar, and was, according to Gyurkovics, "the first real life escape room in the whole galaxy", according to him.

"I was surprised to discover that everyone liked it, even if at the beginning, the success rate (of players finding the way out) was 20 percent," he told AFPTV.

For Gyurkovics, solving a mystery comes second to the human dimension of escape room experiences, namely their ability to develop team spirit.

"Getting out is just a bonus, the time you spend inside with your group members, that is what really counts," he said. — AFP

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