The Potential of Escape Rooms: Location
When we started designing our first Lock Chicago escape room, we asked ourselves, "What is an Escape Game, and what are its restrictions?" One of the biggest considerations for an Escape room is of course the room itself. Most commonly, the space is a room in a building (usually an office or something similar) that's been revamped and redesigned to hold an escape room in it, but that is in no way the only way to have an escape room.
Giant Escape Rooms
There is a myth (/truth) that in Japan, the chain Escape Rooms (which is where all escape rooms started) actually plan out special escape room events that go beyond their actual rooms. I'm not sure how often they do these, but every now and again they will rent out a giant warehouse and prepare it to hold 1000 people for a HUGE mass escape room event. Now I've never done one, nor can I imagine how they would run an escape room on that scale successfully, but it completely breaks the restraints that having a confined space puts on your every day escape room. Granted you're still in a 'confined space', but it's a warehouse.
Teeny Tiny Escape Rooms
Now this option is much more doable for the average escape room owner, and one that we at Lock Chicago plan on taking full advantage of once the weather gets warmer and the city festivals start coming out. Escape rooms usually last an hour, but there's nothing that says that's how long they absolutely HAVE to be. An hour is the absolute sweet spot, of course (and if you want to read more on that then take a look at this), but if you make the room smaller, you can easily design something that players can have fun trying to solve in 15-20 minutes. This is where the idea of the fair-ground escape game comes into play.
At a local festival or block party, a simple escape room can be easily (and cheaply) popped up with a simple canvas tent and some furniture. By making the time limit 15-30 minutes instead of an hour and dropping the price of entrance per customer, you can make a great activity for guests and festival-goers. This also allows younger children to participate, as escape rooms are usually made for the 16+ demographic. Easy to reset and easy to run, these one-day escape rooms bring the game to a much wider audience in a much friendlier and casual environment, and should be considered by any escape-game owners looking to get more involved with their communities.
While we're just getting our start, we here at Lock Chicago are always thinking of ways to expand our escape rooms beyond the room itself, and beyond 'escaping', too. This not only opens us up to more creative avenues of provision, but it also makes our games in the actual space more creative, too. The more you do, the more you do. That's as simple as it gets.