A room, a clue, a key, a lock — an experience

More than just lock and key
  • The tech behind ‘escape rooms’ are worth an examination, given the narrative of each one differs from the next.
  • Security measures: Safety is a key thing at these venues. Rooms are monitored and there’s a communication pathway between game masters and participants.

Peruse any mobile app store and you’ll find hundreds of these games where a few simple taps will clear you of the level. The difference is substantial when actually situating yourself in these rooms, because the pressure is clearly a lot more intense and, well, one can’t just hit ‘exit’ or the home button to leave and come back whenever they wish.

The trend of ‘escape experiences’ started in 2007 courtesy Takao Kato of the famous Real Escape Game — this got the ball rolling and now, globally, there are over 8,000 venues worldwide offering mystery junkies the opportunity to solve puzzles driven by narratives.

A room, a clue, a key, a lock — an experience

The Hidden Hour on Road Number 36 in Jubilee Hills has a different atmosphere from the horror and tears-inducing themes common to these games. CEO of The Hidden Hour Aman Goel explains the more upbeat themes of the escape-rooms have invited a somewhat different demographic, adding “While we do get various groups of friends and corporate groups who want to build team-work skills, we do also get larger families, mainly across three generations.” The premises opened just three weeks ago and the team is already observing good feedback from participants, especially as they emerge from the rooms after successfully getting out.

Gamemaster at The Hidden Hour, Prithviraj, just came back from a training at the franchise’s head office in Delhi where he learned about how to keep the sensors in the room at optimal functionality. “While our main team sits in Delhi, we have to be on call here in case something needs to be adjusted between games sessions because we do modify the games according to the variety of levels we offer.”

A room, a clue, a key, a lock — an experience

With over 18 branches across India, Mystery Rooms at SVM Mall in Jubilee Hills is popular for its hair-raising themes such as ‘Cabin In The Woods’ and ‘Hurt Locker.’ Operations manager Saikiran Royal says the venue is frequented by corporates from Deloitte, Microsoft and Google who want to build team-work skills and just get away from their desks for a bit.

Families and friends also venture to Mystery Rooms, but more so during the weekends where slots get booked extremely quickly.

“See, our concept is different from other escape experiences. The difficulty level is quite up there and people often underestimate how tough it is to get out of there,” he comments, “and while we do monitor their progress, we tell them during the briefing that they should start at basic level because even that’s pretty hard. We currently have five games here at this branch, and our next branch opening later in the year in Gachibowli will have another five. We like to immerse them completely in the experience; in the Cabin In The Woods one has no lights while the prison-themed one has participants dressing up in overalls that we provide.”

A room, a clue, a key, a lock — an experience

Another place which is a favourite with the corporates is The Great Escape formerly known as The Escape Hunt for two years prior to a fun rebranding the franchise underwent in May, and largely caters to people aged 21 till 40.

Divya Pitla, the onsite manager at The Great Escape in SLN Terminus Mall in Gachibowli, says their USP is that they have two rooms in for each game so they can have two different teams compete against each other.

What’s universal across all these venues is the strict ‘no phones inside’ policy. Aman elaborates, “We want our participants to get away from their phones, and really engage with each other and put on their thinking caps... and have a memorable and fun time, of course!”

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Printable version | Feb 25, 2021 11:05:36 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/escape-room-hyderabad-get-out-mystery-rooms-great-escape-hidden-hour/article24528982.ece

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