Room Escapes and Escape Rooms

In the United States, both Room Escape and Escape Room are used to refer to these games. Neither term has yet prevailed as the correct moniker.

It’s worth noting that outside of the United States they are also called exit games, escape games, locked room games, and adventure rooms.

As this industry grows, it will become known by one name.

Grammar Lesson

In English, the modifying adjective comes before the noun. For example, we say big dinosaur rather than dinosaur big. The thing is the dinosaur. It is described as being big. The word order is thus big dinosaur.

In the example above, the words big and dinosaur are unambiguous. With few exceptions, big is an adjective and dinosaur is a noun.

Watercolor painting of a large carnivorous dinosaur.

Grammar Lesson Applied

Room is a noun. Merriam Webster offers its definition as both a noun and a verb, but not as an adjective. It can have multiple meanings, but its most often used as a noun.

Escape is less straight forward. According to Merriam Webster it can be a noun, verb, or adjective. In the English Language, escape already transitions between parts of speech.

Language is fluid. Friend wasn’t a verb until Facebook made it so. Now we can friend someone.

Room can be an adjective if Room Escape makes it so. What type of Escape? Room Escape.

Or, Room can remain a noun. What type of Room? An Escape Room.

Escape Room

Given the already more flexible nature of Escape, the term Escape Room is more likely to prevail.

It should sound more natural to English speakers unfamiliar with either term. Its meaning should be easier to deduce from the components.

Industry Growth

Ultimately, the growth of the industry will force the pervasive term. Language is dynamic; language will adapt.

Companies continue to build rooms for players to explore. A new game is physically manifested in a room. The goal of the game is to escape from this room.

We’ve already seen Mystery Rooms, Puzzle Rooms, and Adventure Rooms. The room is the constant here. It’s the thing. The industry is already growing to include different types of rooms.

That isn’t to say that we haven’t escaped a stadium. We have.

But when I look at where there is room to broaden the appeal, considering the physical limitations of building games in places, and what makes these games more interesting, fun, and entertaining, I come back to Escape Room.

Even if Escape Room prevails… I’m pretty sure that our Room Escape Artist will continue to make sense.


  1. Room Escape sounds like something you do, and Escape Room sounds like someplace you go. So Room Escape sounds like a more active and entertaining concept. But maybe I’m biased, since I’m related to Room Escape Artist.

    1. You make a good point. This was an fun intellectual exercise and an interesting way to project the industry’s future. But there are so many other language and circumstantial factors at play, the pervasive terminology could easily be something else.

  2. “It’s worth noting that outside of the United States they are also called exit games”

    That’s what I thought – or, more precisely, that’s what I borrowed from – but in practice, they’re not. They’re really (almost completely) not!

    1. Agreed, we’ve only seen them called that in a few places, but same goes for “locked room games” and “adventure rooms.”

  3. I’m just getting into the business side of this niche, and am reading voraciously. This blog is on my hit list today. Thanks David!

    Yesterday I came across an article positing different name ideas and explaining why “escape” may fall out of favor. Some of it has to do with the linguistic nuance, e.g. escaping isn’t always the goal of the room. Another thought was that escaping may imply a horror/intensity that turns some people off. In my designs, I want to build the word “escape” into the specific room titles themselves when it applies, but use “adventure” or “live action” or other terms in the general business name to kind of help market things a bit more accurately especially to the non-hardcore crowd.

    I’d be interested in any thoughts you have on this?

    1. You bring up good points about the word “escape” and why it might not be the best word to use to describe the genre of entertainment. That said, I believe it will likely remain the most prevalent word in naming games and companies because it is now associated with the industry, at least until the industry branches out in many different directions.

      We also see a lot of “adventure” and “live action” and similar, likely for the reasons you are considering these terms. Using them could very well be a good marketing decision to reach your desired audience and make them feel comfortable.

      We advocate for a less descriptive name, and instead, one that is different and you can build your brand around. So many of these companies have such similar names that it’s hard to keep them straight. We are building stats on this and you can expect a follow up post on naming that addresses the name confusion issue in the near future.

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