Lock Chicago

Happy Halloween!

Hey Again!

We know it’s been a while so we figured Halloween would be a great time to get another post going. We’ve seen some great costumes from escape room guests over the past week and will be holding our annual “Best Dressed” contest this season. Whoever has the best costume will be rewarded with a free 10-person Private Escape Room experience to any of our rooms! Details are sent out in the confirmation email when reserving but please feel free to also reach out with any questions.

We’re also excited about the upcoming holiday season. We’re running a 10% corporate/group special for the months of December and January. Just give us a call at 312-646-0051 or email us at info@lockedchicago.com and we’ll help your group celebrate some stellar wins in 2018!

Until next time - we hope to see you soon!


Lock Chicago Escape Rooms

Brand New Virtual Reality Arcade at Lock Chicago


We missed you all and figured it was time to catch up since the last post back in September when we opened our 3rd escape room, "Matsuri". We're excited to announce that since then we've recently opened our state of the art Virtual Reality Arcade at Lock Chicago in Evanston. 

Equipped with 2 HTC Vive headsets and a spacious play area, guests can compete in head to head challenges or fight cooperatively against hordes of robotic aliens or zombies! We have dozens of unique games and experiences including hits such as Beat Saber, Rick and Morty's VR Experience, Arizona Sunshine, and more.

Pricing is $20/person for the hour and you can bring up to 8 total guests. With multiple 50'' flat screen televisions see what they see and immerse yourselves in the experience. Come check us out and see what all the hype is about! 


Brian, Bane, and Alex - Lock Chicago

Finally Moved! Lock Chicago's New Escape Room Facilities

Hello Again!

We know it's been a few months since our last post and it's been a crazy 60 days as we've fully transitioned out of our original location and onto our new facilities at 820 Davis Street, Suite 151 in Evanston. Have no fear as we're still literally one block away from our prior location just with some new upgrades.

We have an additional 2,400 square feet to work with for a total of 4,000 with 2 new escape rooms coming by the end of 2017! We have added some new features to our existing "Sunburn" and "Malfunction" escape rooms and increased the capacity to 10 players each for "Private Rooms". They will still remain 8 players each for the "Public Room" function.

Feel free to stop by at our new spot to chat or take a sneak peek at our upcoming escape room concepts as we look to build on our new Lock Chicago location!

Best Regards,

Brian, Bane, and Alex - Lock Chicago

Lock Chicago and the Escape Room Festival Season!

Hello Again!

Today we're going to talk about Escape Rooms and the unique opportunity they bring to different street festivals, concerts, and outdoor events throughout the community and city. While escape rooms initially started out as designs built specifically for in-house locations the industry and experience has grown so much beyond that point. Larger companies and brands such as Zelda, Resident Evil, Ford, and more are crafting unique mobile experiences that they can take from city to city that not only promote an upcoming event but drive awareness for the unique experiences of an escape room.

Us at Lock Chicago are no different as we initially began our foray into mobile games with our partnership with Northwestern University's "Dillo Day" student-run music festival. We set up a 30 minute mobile escape room on the festival grounds back in 2016 and we look to ramp that up even further in 2017. 

The nice thing about being able to create an experience on the go is that you can take it virtually anywhere. As Spring and Summer inches closer keep an eye out for all the local community festivals in the area. Evanston has an abundant amount in their downtown area which makes a perfect opportunity for you to contribute and drive awareness of your own escape rooms brand in a fun and innovative way.

Just make sure you're prepared for any weather situation as that can put a damper on the outdoor escape room experience as well as durable props (us at Lock Chicago learned that the hard way).

In any case best of luck as we get through this seemingly mild winter and onwards towards warmer weather!


Lock Chicago

Now Hiring Escape Room Game Masters/Operations Manager at Lock Chicago!

Game Master 
Lock Chicago Escape Games – Evanston, IL 60610 
$10 an hour - Part-time

Do you want the coolest job you've ever had? We are currently looking to add multiple part-time team members to our Lock Chicago team at Lock Chicago - Escape Games.

We are a rapidly growing, team-building, design consulting and retail entertainment company. We are looking for someone with wide ranging talents to work in conjunction with our current Operations Manager and learn the business as we expand to our new location in the coming months.

The positions we are looking to fill will be titled "Game Master". To be considered please submit a resume with the subject of "Game Master Application" to info@lockedchicago.com.

Game Master:

  • This is a unique and one-of-a-kind job! You will educate our guests on how it all works. You will inform them of their objectives while in the room. You will work in a control room and coach the guests while on their journey to escape! You will be their guide when they stumble and offer them hints if needed. You will then prepare the Escape Room for the next group of guests.
  • You must be fun and enthusiastic as you are a big part of the whole guest experience from beginning to end.
  • Prior to applying to this position you must first familiarize yourself with the concept of Escape Rooms and the worldwide phenomenon that is spreading fast across the US. Escape Rooms stimulate the mind, your sense of curiosity and your ability to work with others in an effort to escape.
  • Please visit our website at www.lockedchicago.com to learn more.
  • If on one hand you like video games, playing chess, and solving puzzles/riddles, while on the other hand you like designing, building and/or fixing things, you have found the perfect job!

This job requires you to be:

  • Remotely view and monitor games in progress and assist participants
  • Customer Service focused
  • Professional, polished and well-spoken
  • Hands-on and handy with tools and gadgets
  • Game or puzzle-minded
  • Creative thinker
  • Flexible with regards to work schedule

This job requires the following experience:

  • Retail, amusement or hospitality experience.
  • Comfortable engaging with both small and large groups of people.
  • Public Speaking experiences a plus!
  • We'll teach you the rest!

Lock Chicago Data and Escape Room Statistics

Escape Rooms have been around for over a decade across the world but within the past 3 years have recently begun to gain mainstream popularity across the United States. But are they just a fad or will they follow the same path as Laser Tag or other similar games? We spoke with guests and other escape rooms to pull together some interesting key data pieces about the state of the industry in the United States. Special thanks to King's Escape Room for information from their infographic! 

  • From a survey of 1,000 33.9% of respondents said they had never heard of an Escape Room before!
  • 100% of respondents ages 18-24 loved their Escape Room experience.
  • 50/50 there was no correlation between male/female on opinions of escape rooms.
  • 84.9% of those who had visited an Escape Room in the past year "loved" their experience.
  • There are over 2,300 escape rooms in the United States compared to 2,200 in Russia where the industry has been thriving.

There is no doubt that this industry will continue to grow at a staggering rate but all things must eventually slow down especially as others look to play in the same space and join the market. It is up to the customer to decide on what makes the most special experience and escape rooms to keep up and continue to provide that experience. 

If you haven't tried an escape room yet what are you waiting for?? 


Lock Chicago

Christmas is Coming to Lock Chicago!

Hello All,

We hope everyone had a Happy Halloween and now that election mania has passed we can focus on the brighter things such as Holiday Parties and the Thanksgiving/Christmas season!

Escape Rooms provide the unique opportunity to be tailored in a wide variety of ways. Many rooms change themes based on the season, holiday, and more with Halloween and Christmas being the focal point of this. Generally escape rooms tend to be busier during the winter months as the weather gets colder and people look for more indoor recreational activities when there is a foot of snow on the ground (at least here in Chicago).

Themed rooms provide a unique experience and us at Lock Chicago are happy to provide that to our customers. Many escape rooms will open a completely new themed room for the holidays where others might opt to adjust the existing theme to make it more festive.

Corporate Christmas/holiday parties are a large factor in this as well as companies look to venture outside the box for their get togethers. What better way to celebrate a successful year than pounding back some egg nog and saving Santa's reindeer?

If anyone's come across a stellar holiday-themed escape room feel free to sound off in the comments or send us a message! As always we love hearing from you and can't wait to get our snow on this season.


Brian, Bane, and Alex - Lock Chicago

Escape Rooms: Where Are They? (Not Just Lock Chicago!)

Hello Again!

We wanted to follow up our last post to highlight a growing trend in the Escape Room Industry. When we began in Evanston back in January we were 1 of 15 companies in Illinois operating some form of an escape room. Just under 10 months later we are now 1 of 40 companies.

Escape Rooms are growing at an extremely rapid rate which is great for the industry as it continues to spread the word and increase exposure for this exciting and fun activity. More mainstream outlets are getting on board as well as we see hit television shows such as "The Big Bang Theory" and more highlighting Escape Rooms on their broadcast.

Disney recently announced a new "Guardians of the Galaxy" themed Escape Room in their park. The success of rooms throughout the country will undoubtedly spur an increase for larger outlets to capitalize on the success. 

To us at Lock Chicago this is great news because it continues to challenge us and other Escape Rooms to create the best possible experience for the most important person, our guests. If you're looking for nearby escape rooms feel free to visit the popular website: http://escaperoomdirectory.com/ which has a large index of rooms across the world!

Until next time take care and happy escaping!


Brian, Bane, and Alex

Lock Chicago and Partnering with Local Escape Rooms

Hello again! It's been a while since we last posted but don't think we took the summer off - today's feature is regarding connecting and partnering with other Escape Rooms in your area. Last night we met with a dozen other escape room owners in the Chicagoland area at another location (thanks to DOA for hosting)!

In an industry that's growing faster every day it's important to understand the dynamics at play and what's working across the business. The worse thing that can happen to the industry is poor quality escape rooms opening and turning potential customers off to the whole idea. This is why escape rooms must continually help and push each other to create the ultimate live experience for their guests.

We are currently working on forming a Chicago Escape Room Association which will give us leverage when working with as many partners as we do. All escape rooms need the same things, insurance, building materials, building space, and if you can work together as a team to reach these common goals you have a lot more power than if you stood alone.

While it can be challenging to unify those in the industry with as many new rooms appearing across the United States and International community, the nice thing is everyone understands what one another has to go through within their own escape rooms and by sharing ideas and fostering a helpful community it will only continue to further grow the business.

That being said please feel free to reach out to us at Lock Chicago if we can provide any advice, tips, or just conversation regarding anything Escape Rooms!


Brian, Bane, and Alex

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.

Designing an Escape Room: Custom Puzzles

If you're looking for a project that'll put your hands to work, build an Escape Room. Or become a construction worker, but we think Escape Rooms are more fun. Especially because you're building the project for yourself (one of the perks of owning your own business). But as you build your puzzle space, you'll realize very quickly that IKEA, Amazon, and thrift shops don't actually sell the furniture/fixtures/objects you need to make your ideas come to life. The majority of your room will have at least some kind of custom flair to it, but that's where the learning curve really kicks in.

Expenses Beget Learning

At Lock Chicago, we pride ourselves on creating unique puzzles that have you interacting with objects you wouldn't normally find in your day-to-day lives. That means a lot of custom work for us. Fortunately for us, custom usually means expensive.

Did we just say 'fortunately'? Yes we did, and here's why: when something is expensive, you get very resourceful very quickly when it comes to cutting costs. We have a lot of pieces that require a significant amount of precision to work (reflecting lasers around the room isn't as easy as you think!), and one of those custom pieces had to be as precise as precise can get. We're talking angles and geometry and trigonometry and all that stuff you swore you'd never try again once you left high school. We're crafty, but there's no way we could make what we needed successfully by hand in the time that we had, so we asked ourselves 'what is the most precise way to build these pieces in one go?' And that's how we landed on 3D printing.

The Design Phase

Once we figure out how to add pictures to these blogs we will, but here would have been a grand time to add a few. We have a whole design drawer here at Lock Chicago (and you might even see a few of those designs hanging on the walls in our lobby). And while custom crafting services will design the piece you need for you, we prefer to do it ourselves so we got onto a free 3D design site called TinkerCAD. Incredibly easy and a lot of fun if you're into that sort of thing. We went through four or five revisions of these designs before we settled on a finished product and sent them out to 3D printing shops. Unfortunately for us, we found out that printing all of the pieces we needed this way would cost us several thousand dollars. Back to square one...

Libraries are Treasures Hidden in Plain Sight

...Or so we thought. We found out that although it would cost a small fortune to go through a 3D printing service, the Harold Washington Library here in Chicago actually has a Maker's Lab on the 3rd floor that lets you use 3D printers for free (as long as you pay $.50 for every half hour of printing time you use). Pennies! We had struck gold! Unfortunately... it would take about 17 hours to print one of these custom pieces and we needed 10 of them. 170 * $.50 per half hour comes out to a lot less than several thousand dollars, but it was no longer an option given our ambitions here at Lock Chicago. Still! Go to your local library and get to know what they offer! You'll be surprised by everything you can find-- we know we were!


Not only do libraries have cool labs like this, but the people who work there are incredibly knowledgeable, and are in fact the greatest resource that library can offer you. We met Will Garza at the Maker's Lab and he helped us out with the 3D printing. When our plans for 3D printing failed, he knew alternatives we hadn't even thought of that would get us the same precision 3D printing would give us, and for far cheaper. Turns out he's the co-owner of White Knight Services, a custom crafting company, and we would end up using his services for all of the custom work you'll see at Lock Chicago. Finally, after a long journey, we had our custom pieces and could get started on the room.

The Lock Chicago moral of this story: just keep pushing. The more you do towards something, the more ways you learn how to do what needs to be done even better. From idea to design to 3D printing to expensive printers to helpful libraries, all added up to us finding not only the best way to create our custom pieces, but also created a relationship that will help us out for years to come. Like we said earlier, expenses beget knowledge, especially when it comes to Escape Rooms.

Designing an Escape Room: The Idea

Everything starts with a small idea (or in the case of a Snuggie, someone accidentally putting a bathrobe on backwards) and the Escape Rooms here at Lock Chicago are no different. It all starts off with the most granular element of the puzzle, and the rest develops as you realize what you can accomplish with that mechanic. Take a look at our Sunburn room, for example. The underlying mechanic for the room is "light" and interesting ways to play around with it, especially redirection (if anyone here has seen The Mummy you know what I'm talking about). Every puzzle that exists in that room involves that mechanic.

An Expert Opinion

For those of you who follow this sort of thing, Johnathan Blow is releasing The Witness on January 26th, a puzzle game for computers and consoles. Johnathan Blow is considered one of the greatest video game puzzle makers around, and in this interview he states that the 600+ puzzles that exist to be solved in the game all have, on their most granular level, the same mechanic running through them: connecting two dots with a line.

Connecting the Dots

That's right, the some 100 hours of playtime it would take to fully beat his upcoming game are spent essentially just connecting dots, but once you see the screenshots and videos of the game you can immediately tell that it's a gross over-simplification. The important thing to take away from this is that the entire concept, and the project he and his team have spent close to 10 years now working on, started with an idea as small as connecting two dots with a single line. All great ideas stem from a granular foundation, and that concept has been generalized into the term we know today as "theme". What is the theme of your Escape Room, and how will you abstract it?

Tackling a project can be daunting when you look at it as a whole. When building a house, don't think of the house--think of the foundation you have to lay first, then the wood skeleton, then the insulation, then the exterior, then the interior, and then the finishing touches. Designing (and not to mention building) an Escape Room is done the same way, and that's how we do it at Lock Chicago. If you're looking to get some help starting a room, or are just curious to learn more, feel free to reach out to us at info@lockedchicago.com and we'll give you all of the advice we can.


Starting Lock Chicago Escape Rooms

You know usually you should start a post titled "Starting Lock Chicago Escape Rooms" when you actually start the business, but we're just a few months off. Besides, with a touch of retrospect we can guarantee this post will be a lot more interesting than it would have been if we had written it three months ago. For starters, we're not starting off with 'This is our first post, we're so excited to start our business!' Trust us, we're still VERY excited (and we hope it shows in our rooms) but we know the lay of the land a bit better now and take everything with a level head, an even keel, and more than the appropriate amount of stability cliches.

Three Months Ago

Three months ago our lives were phone calls and emails. We had nothing: no website, no legal status, and we hadn't even mapped out our first room yet. All we had was the encouragement of a few friends over at Locked Manhattan and the help of the folks over at SCORE and the Chicago BACP. Talking about and designing an Escape Room is a ton of fun, and it gets the brain working, but complying with federal, state, and city codes, laws, zoning, and licensing is a... let's call it a 'learning experience'. There is a learning curve and there are a lot of lessons, which we'll cover in these blogs, and we hope you learn a little something from them, if not find them interesting. Hopefully if you're starting your own Escape Room, our experiences will help you avoid some of the pits we had to climb out of on our way to the grand opening of Lock Chicago.


It's  roughly three weeks before the opening of our first Escape Room here at Lock Chicago (use coupon code GRANDOPENING at checkout for 10% off for a limited time #shamelessplug), and we're deep into beta testing and ironing out our designs. There are few things more powerful than seeing something as personal as your puzzle design (which is your own personal challenge to the world) slowly manifest from idea to physical space. Everything we've done up until now has been absolutely worth it, and we can't wait for our first customers to come give the finished puzzle a go. But we'll go into more detail on that in some later posts.

For now, we're hard at work making our puzzle room as unique and memorable as it can possibly be, and we hope you come check us out.

Bane and Brian