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Escape the room, also known as room escape or escape game, is a subgenre of point-and-click adventure game which requires a player to escape from imprisonment by exploiting their surroundings. They are most popular as mobile games for iOS, and Android with examples such as Can You Escape and Castle Breakout[1]. They are also often created as a freeware browser game for the Adobe Flash platform[2]. Similar game mechanics have been identified in PC and console games such as Myst[3] and 999: Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors.[4][5] Some examples include "Crimson Room", "Viridian Room", "MOTAS", and "Droom".

The room usually consists of a locked door, objects to manipulate, and hidden clues or secret compartments. The player must use the objects to interact with other items in the room to reveal a way to escape.[6][7]

The popularity of these online games has led to the development of real-life escape rooms all around the world.



The basic gameplay mechanism of having the player trapped in a single location dates back at least to John Wilson's 1988 text adventure Behind Closed Doors,[8] in which the player is trapped inside a restroom. The term originated in 2001 from the MOTAS game,[9] though there are many older examples of the point-and-click variation, such as Noctropolis, and even earlier examples from the text adventure canon. The genre was further popularized in 2004 by the Japanese "Crimson Room" game by Toshimitsu Takagi, which has spread throughout the internet and can be seen on many gaming websites.[10]

While a single-location game may not be set inside a room, and while the player's goal may not necessarily be escape, in 2002 the interactive fiction community first hosted a One Room Game Competition (attracting six entries, all in Italian), and in 2006 Riff Conner wrote Another Goddamn Escape the Locked Room Game, indicating that the genre is well known in the contemporary interactive fiction hobbyist community.


Most escape-the-room games play from a first-person perspective, where the player must click on objects to interact with them. Most room escape games offer only token plots, usually a short cut scene consisting only of text to establish how the player got there, and sometimes another when the game is finished.[3][6][7] Room escapes usually have a minimalistic interface, ambient soundtrack, and no non-player characters; these elements can enhance the gamer's sense of isolation.[2]

During gameplay the player must click on objects to either interact with them or add them to their inventory. As the player passes the mouse over the game screen, usually the mouse cursor will change shape (e.g. to a hand or different kind of arrow) if the item under the cursor can be used, opened, manipulated, collected, searched or (if an exit) followed, but some games do not provide such hints to the player. If the object cannot be collected, opened, used or manipulated, the player is usually assumed to be inspecting it; in most cases, the player will see a brief text description.[7] The player must collect items and use them with various objects (or other items in the inventory) to find a way to get out of the room. Some games require the player to solve several rooms in succession. Some require significant amounts of pixel hunting (tedious searching for a small clickable area), which can frustrate players.[2] For example, when reviewing the PSP game "Crimson Room Reverse" (a collection of room escape games that were originally free online flash games), critic Brad Gallaway said, "Key items are often hidden behind other items, and the player has no way of knowing these areas exist or that it's possible to search there unless the cursor falls in a very specific location, sometimes a "hot spot" as small as a few pixels."[11]


The benefits of escape-the-room games are a myriad of brain fixes. Including memory, mood, problem solving and IQ benefits.[1] YadaYadaYada (a summary will be written by my attorney, who wrote the original article.)


  1. ^ a b Matthew Broderick (2018-08-31). "Where would you be wtihout your brain?".
  2. ^ a b c Alexander, Leigh (2013-01-25). "Could The Room's success predict a new trend?". Gamasutra. Retrieved 2013-03-23.
  3. ^ a b Meer, Alec (October 6, 2009). "Room Escape: A Secret Giant?". Rock Paper Shotgun. Retrieved 2013-01-08.
  4. ^ Laura (January 10, 2010). "The Two Parts Of Extreme Escape: 9 Hours 9 People 9 Doors / Siliconera". Siliconera. Retrieved 2013-01-08. The first is the Escape Part. Here, you explore the rooms and use the DS touchscreen to examine everything in the room -– anything that could give you a hint on how to escape from the locked room. As you discover new things, the people with you will also give their input and provide you with more hints. Sometimes, you can also find usable items, which can be combined with other items for various purposes. Once you solve all the mysteries in the room, it is possible to unlock the door and escape.
  5. ^ Hamilton, Kirk (2013-01-28). "I Spent Saturday Morning Solving Puzzles In The Belly Of A Naval Battleship". Kotaku. Retrieved 2013-03-23.
  6. ^ a b divisionten (October 12, 2009). "Escape-the-Room Games: A History, A Catalogue, and an Explanation - Kino Diaries". Retrieved 2013-01-08.
  7. ^ a b c Brown, Kristine (September 4, 2012). "Reading Escape from the Blue Room - Digital Rhetoric and New Media". Retrieved 2013-01-08.
  8. ^ World of Spectrum: Behind Closed Doors
  9. ^ Ransom-Wiley, James (2007-01-15). "New MOTAS levels to point and click thru". Joystiq. Retrieved 2007-12-14.
  10. ^ "Inside Out Escape London". Retrieved 28 September 2016.
  11. ^ Gallaway, Brad (January 7, 2010). "Crimson Room: Reverse Review / - Games. Culture. Criticism". Retrieved 2013-01-08.