Are Escape Rooms Claustrophobic?

Many escape rooms contain elements that could trigger claustrophobia in someone who suffers from that medical condition. At the same time, there are plenty of escape games that will likely be playable for someone with claustrophobia.

I’m no doctor and I’m no expert in claustrophobia, but I have played games with friends who were worried about enclosed spaces, and they found this wasn’t an issue.

We’re going to take a look at what claustrophobia is and what you should do to ensure that you’re selecting an escape room that won’t trigger your claustrophobia.

Stylized image of the interior of a steel elevator with closed doors.

What is Claustrophobia?

If you suffer from claustrophobia, you experience an irrational fear of confinement. Common triggers include elevators, tunnels, revolving doors, and other restricted spaces.

This is a medical condition. I am not a doctor. If you suffer from claustrophobia, I would strongly urge you to speak to your doctor. A general practitioner can help you find a specialist with expertise to help you through this. You do not have to live with claustrophobia.

Please read up if this sounds like you or someone you care about.

Will Escape Rooms Trigger Claustrophobia?

Claustrophobia is an individual problem that will affect different people in different ways. I cannot provide a concrete answer that will apply to everyone.

That said, I can speak to some of the common triggers as they pertain to escape rooms.

Locked In or Confined

When escape rooms were first introduced, some of them would lock players in. Modern escape rooms should never lock a player into a space without providing that player with a means of freeing themself.

If you visit an escape room that doesn’t provide you a means of emergency exit, you should ask for your money back and leave.

Tight Spaces

Each escape room offers a different experience in a different sized space.

Some escape rooms can feel cramped or confined, but many of them are large and wide open. A few are even outdoors.

Crawlspaces, small rooms, and elevator-like spaces certainly do exist in some escape games. In many games, however, only 1 teammate is required to go through the small space. This is especially true of crawlspaces.

What to Do Before Booking

If the size of the space is a concern for you, reach out to the company you’re thinking about visiting. If they are a good operator, they’ll answer questions and help you determine if they have a game that will meet your needs.

You should feel comfortable saying, “I (or someone on my team) isn’t willing to enter tight spaces or tunnels. Which of your games should I book?” It’s a completely reasonable question. It’s an easy way to get some peace of mind before booking. The person you speak with may or may not get into the details of the space, but they certainly should be willing to help guide your game selection. If they don’t, call another company.

Also, as a general rule, I’d suggest avoiding horror games. In my experience, they tend to have more crawlspaces, tight spaces, and other attributes designed to poke and prod at human fears.

There are so many different and wonderful adventures to have in an escape room. Many have nothing to do with tight spaces or even escaping. Find the right game for you and go have some fun.

Are Escape Rooms?

This post is part of our on going series, “Are Escape Rooms?…” We’re digging into questions, concerns, and curiosities that are common among new players.

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