Image source Dambreaker.com
I haven’t picked up a video game controller since the 90’s – I was in middle school and recall that neither hell nor high water could have pried my sister and I’s little white-knuckled hands off the Nintendo 64 controllers and away from The Legend of Zelda. I was reminded of my 2D digital diversions when I heard the new virtual reality is now just…reality. Yep, people in China are abandoning their Wii’s and paying to be locked inside small rooms and given one hour to escape in what have become the Arcades or “Game-Scapes” of the future. Players are led into real-life versions of video games scenarios such as converted bomb shelters, residential apartments and office complexes and must find combinations to safes, bypass riddled locks, open secret doors and solve word and math problems all in a single hour in order to move on to the next level.
Intriguing? Yes, quite. However, I don’t know about you all, but I’ve “played” a similar scenario once myself – and it did not leave me with a sense of accomplishment. I locked myself outside on my 4th floor deck and you can bet your sweet tuchus that I was out there (admittedly more than the game’s limited hour) racking my humiliated brain for ways to get myself down. With my phone smugly charging inside, I considered my options: crawling down the drainage pipe (certain death), pulling a B & E on the apt. one deck away (pass – gel manicures aren’t cheap and breaking windows is a chip waiting to happen), and of course, sitting disgracefully outside until somebody discovered that I was missing (le sigh). After two hours I wanted a snack so I ended up screaming down to a passing stranger to call a locksmith and my imprisonment ended with me paying my chortling little savior $200 to break into my apt and then fix the locks. Fun game!
So far, these thriller movie-inspired reality games have not caught on in any other countries – but with 120 locations in Beijing alone touting these escape-room games, is it only a matter of time before lock and key becomes the new sofa and screen? I can see it now…throngs of pale bespectacled MIT and Harvard students queuing up in long, flannelled lines waiting anxiously to be locked in a small room with their shrewd compatriots. How terribly Harry Potter.
Would you pay to have the chance to escape?
Posted by Jenna