The great escape

The great escape
Participants at large-scale escape game Night At The Museum: The Great Escape from Asian Civilisations Museum.

For one hour every week, Ms Dian Intania willingly locks herself in a room with five friends. In order to get out, they have to crack puzzles that involve subjects such as mathematicss, science and assorted general knowledge.

The 29-year-old assistant project manager is part of a growing group of escape game enthusiasts here. The activity first landed here in 2012 and there are now more than 10 escape room providers, with a quarter of them operating more than one outlet.

The premise of an escape game goes like this: Two to 12 players are locked in a themed room for an hour and have to uncover clues and solve puzzles in order to escape and emerge victorious.

Rooms are equipped with an intercom or a button so that participants can seek help if necessary. There is no age limit, though kids under 12 are to be accompanied by adults to assist with the more challenging puzzles.

Ms Intania has been in more than 25 escape games since she started playing last June.

"Before I started playing escape games, having fun would be to head to nightclubs, but that's not really beneficial. Escape games are challenging, trains my mind and are definitely cheaper than drinking in a nightclub," she says.

One escape room operator which has grown rapidly is Lockdown Singapore, which opened its first outlet in July 2013. It now has two outlets in Clarke Quay Central and one in Suntec City Mall.

Last August, the Lockdown Group, which includes Lockdown Singapore, acquired escape game room operator Think Your Way Out and changed the name to ThinkOut Events, which focuses on large-scale regional escape games.

And the company is continuing to expand. By the middle of the year, Lockdown Singapore will open its fourth outlet in a central location as well as rooms in Malaysia and Indonesia, says Lockdown Group co-founder Jonathan Ye.

"By having more outlets located centrally, people in the area have the option to pop by versus having to plan to play an escape game," he notes.

He adds that Lockdown Singapore's revenue has doubled since it opened and he is optimistic about the enduring appeal of escape room games here.

"There is a severe lack of entertainment that is both fun and educational in Singapore. Entertainment such as movies and clubbing numbs our senses and provides temporary pleasure, but with escape games, participants are challenged and, after completing one, they discover their potential," he says.

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