Watch our talk from Up The Game!

Last May, we spoke at Up The Game, the escape room conference in The Netherlands.

We are honored to have been invited to speak at this conference. We had an incredible time.

Lisa and David on stage speaking to a full house in the chapel on the prison dome.

Watch our talk

Up the Game is now releasing recordings of the talks from the conference. Here is our talk on The Player Experience:

Spoiler warning: We do give a couple of spoilers for games during the talk. One is for a well-spoiled moment in a famous game. The other is in a little-known one.

In each of the following vignettes, we tell a story about something that happened to us in an escape room.

Here are timestamps for the talk’s segments, as well as links to other posts on the same subject.

Silly correction from the video – Anaheim is South of Los Angeles.

We have more stories!

If you’d like to hear more, David will be giving an updated version of this talk at WroEscape, the escape room conference in Wrocław, Poland from October 27-29th. Find him there!

NYC Tour – This is the Final Day to Purchase Tickets

Howdy, if you are thinking about attending our NYC tour, Escape, Immerse, Explore, today is your final day to purchase tickets.

Escape Immerse Explore NYC 2017 logo

We have to close sales so that we can solve the big optimization puzzle of team building and scheduling.

Attendees of the tour get a whole lot of games that guarantee far smaller teams than you’ll typically get in New York City games.

We hope to see you there.

Book now, while you still can.

Last Chance for Escape, Immerse, Explore: NYC 2017

We’ve been soft-selling this tour since we announced it, but it’s decision time.

Escape, Immerse, Explore: NYC 2017 ticket sales will close on Friday, September 22.

Signup for Escape, Immerse, Explore NYC 2017

We had no idea if anyone would buy tickets for an escape room binge and we’re thrilled with the turnout. The folks who will be attending seem like an incredible group of people.

There are still a few tickets available.

Book your ticket today!

If you have any questions, feel free to contact us.

Meet me at Poland’s Escape Room Conference!

Here’s a pleasant surprise…

I’m incredibly excited to announce that I’ll be speaking at WroEscape, the escape room conference in Wrocław, Poland from October 27-29th.

Wro Escape logo features a lock melded with a lightbulb.

I’ll be discussing The Player Experience, conducting a Q&A, and generally floating around meeting many people and learning as much as I can about the escape room community in Poland.

This will be my first solo conference appearance as Lisa will not be able to make the trip… but she’ll be there in spirit while I explore the city that her grandfather hailed from (back when it was Breslau, Germany).

Thank you WroEscape for the invitation and coordination.

Feel free to reach out

I’m looking forward to meeting people, so feel free to reach out over Facebook, Twitter, or email.

I’m also eagerly seeking escape room recommendations and teammates. Note that I will have to play in English.

I also welcome food recommendations, as I pretty much eat and puzzle my way through the cities that I visit.

See you in Poland.

(Book tickets to WroEscape)

On the sudden passing of a friend and supporting a great cause

A few days ago my colleague, neighbor, and above all, friend passed away without warning at the age of 29.

Jenn Marzulli was a quietly brilliant woman who would sit through multi-hour meetings silently listening to everyone prattle on about whatever they felt was important. Just when everyone thought they had everything figured out, she would ask one devastatingly insightful question that would make every person in the room rethink the approach.

Since childhood, Jenn had spent a lot of time admitted to the hospital due to a chronic illness. This was amplified over the last year. We frequently discussed the monotony of it all.

In her honor, I just bought a bunch of toys for a local children’s hospital:

Child's Play logo

Child’s Play is a charity that works to get games and toys into the hands of children who are in hospitals and domestic abuse shelters. You can donate to the charity, but every year I like to use their Amazon to send requested toys directly to the hospital or shelter.

No middle man. No “is this charity really doing what I want with my money?”

Just toys in the hands of kids who desperately need an escape.

Jenn was a low-key, zero bullshit person kind of person. This feels like the right way to honor her. I’m currently an ocean away from her funeral, but in doing this, I’m there in spirit and action.

Please consider buying a toy or two for children who are trapped because of circumstances beyond their control. You truly never know how long a life will last, so everyone should have an opportunity to enjoy it while they’re here.

Buy some toys through Child’s Play today.

Vote for Your Favorite Escape Room… 2017 Edition

The USA Today Readers’ Choice 10Best list for 2017 has been announced. This year we helped create the list: 12 of our nominees appear in this year’s list of finalists.

USA Today 10 Best Readers' Choice 2017 logo.

10Best Travel Lists

USA Today publishes 10Best lists to help travelers make the most out of their trips.

According to the USA Today website, for this feature “our travel experts select the top 20 nominees in contests covering food, lodging, destinations, travel gear, things to do… the list goes on. Then it’s up to you to make the final decision by casting your vote.”

When USA Today launched this vote last year, we reached out for additional information about the categories and the frequency of the list publication:

“10Best launches new Readers’ Choice contests every two weeks, each batch centered on a different theme. Some categories, like cruise, hotels and theme parks, we repeat from year to year. Others we might only run once or every couple of years.

Across the different categories, 10Best is read by 5 million travelers per month. 

2017 escape room nominations

We nominated 20 escape room companies to USA Today for 2017.

12 of our nominees appear in this year’s list of finalists. If you read the descriptions of the companies carefully, you might be able to pick out a few of our favorites.

The 20 nominees for 2017 cover 10 states. They are heavily skewed toward California, and in particular Los Angeles, along with other standout markets New York and Louisiana.

Promoting growth

With this reader vote, USA Today is promoting escape rooms along with museums, tours, amusement parks, theater, and everything else that might have a 10Best list in the “things to do” category.

Your vote is a vote for the continued growth of escape rooms in the United States. It’s a vote for tourists to visit these games, discover this genre of entertainment, and seek to play more escape rooms. At its core, this vote isn’t about which company is the best. It’s about seeing escape rooms continue to thrive.

The polls close on Monday, September 25 at noon ET. Cast your vote for escape rooms.

Major Updates to the REA Event – Escape, Immerse, Explore: NYC 2017 … Register Today!

Come experience the best of New York City’s escape rooms and interactive entertainment with Room Escape Artist this November!

About Escape, Immerse, Explore: NYC 2017

Join us November 3-4, 2017 for a tailored tour through many of New York City’s best escape rooms.

Escape Immerse Explore NYC 2017 logo

Major Updates

Thank you to our pre-sale supporters!

Based on feedback from pre-salers and other interested participants, we’ve slimmed down the event to focus on escape rooms and slashed the price in half.

What’s different?

  • We’ve cut the final day’s big event, Accomplice
  • We’ve added an additional escape room to everyone’s agenda
  • Only VIP ticket holders will have tour guides
  • The unlimited metrocard is no longer included

The Accomplice event and tour guides effectively accounted for nearly half of the ticket price.

We seriously want to host that Accomplice show, but we’re going to have to do it as a standalone sometime in the future.

Sign up today for this escape room exclusive: REA plans your day at the best escape rooms in New York City.

Lisa and David along the Hudson River, New York City in the background.
We would like to welcome you to New York City!

Escape Rooms

As part of the event, you will visit at least five escape rooms from some of the best escape room companies* in New York City including:

*Not every tour track will visit every company.

What else is included?

First Person Xperience’s RED in Long Island City is a 75-minute psychological thriller where guests are immersed in an apocalyptic story, interact with real actors and special effects, and work together to complete an objective. RED is a live action experience where your actions and decisions matter, because in this show, YOU control how the story ends!

Escape Entertainment in Herald Square will be our hosts for a morning of breakfast, networking, and escape games.

Lisa and David will be giving a talk by players for players. Lisa and David have been featured speakers at Transworld’s Escape Room Shows in Chicago in 2016 and Niagara Falls in 2017 and at Up The Game in The Netherlands in 2017. This presentation will be exclusively available to event participants.

Packages

Escape, Immerse, Explore  – $399

This includes RED, networking breakfast at Escape Entertainment, Lisa and David’s talk… and a booked agenda of at least 5 escape rooms.

VIP Escape, Immerse, Explore – $549

This includes RED, networking breakfast at Escape Entertainment, Lisa and David’s talk… and a guided tour of at least five escape rooms led by Lisa or David.

Particulars

The event begins on Friday, November 3rd at 5pm. The Friday evening event is in Long Island City, Queens, a short subway ride from Times Square (NOT on Long Island). Note that booking times on Friday evening will vary. You will have the opportunity to request an earlier or later booking time.

The event will wrap up on Saturday evening after a busy day of escape rooms.

Attendees will receive exclusive discount coupons to book their own escape rooms while they are in town.

Also Included

After you purchase your tickets, you’ll receive additional information about:

  • tour customization survey
  • discounted accommodations
  • travel and parking recommendations
  • discounted rates for booking additional escape rooms

FAQ

Are you guys selling out?

Between legal, insurance, food and the cost of sending people to all of the games… this is not an overwhelmingly profitable endeavor. If we were looking to sell out, we’d do something unethical like consult, or design games… and review them on our own site.

We’re hosting this event because we want to bring this community to New York City and share a few of the games we love with you.

Why New York City?

We live here. This city has outstanding escape rooms. We want to show them off!

Why November?

It’s not winter. It’s not summer. And the escape room conferences were back in May.

Why these particular companies?

We selected them because they showcase some of the best in escape rooms and immersive games.

How will we get from game to game?

Walking, subway, or taxi/uber/lyft. Your tour agenda will recommend how to get around.

Can I choose my teammates?

The escape room tours will be groups of 4 or 6. You may select a buddy or put together a full group.

I don’t have a team. Will that be a problem?

Not at all. We’ll put you in a group with other escape room enthusiasts from far and wide.

I’ve played most of the games from these companies. Can I still participate?

Contact us. There might be an opportunity. We’ll try to make it work.

Will I get to choose which escape rooms I play?

No, but you’ll fill out a survey and based on that we’ll put you into games that we think you’ll love. You’ll find out your escape room agenda far enough in advance that you can book additional games for yourself during the rest of your time in New York City.

I’m an escape room owner/employee and/or immersive experience designer. Can I participate?

Yes!

I have nothing to do with the escape room industry. I just want to play all the games! Can I participate?

Yes!

What should I do about airfare and hotels?

Your ticket does not cover travel or lodging. However, we will send you recommended hotel accommodations and information about travel to NYC after you purchase a ticket.

Are meals included in the ticket price?

The ticket includes brunch at Escape Entertainment on Saturday. Saturday’s escape room tour will have a meal break where you can purchase food.

I can’t make it that weekend. Will you run this again?

If it goes well, we’ll consider running it again in New York or elsewhere.

Can I buy a ticket for someone under 18?

Unfortunately, no.

How long have you been planning this?

A very long time. We’re pretty sure we’ve got something great here.

Can I sponsor this event?

Contact us about sponsorship opportunities. We are not accepting escape room companies as sponsors.

What if I have other questions?

Contact us.

We look forward to seeing you in New York this November!

 

Three Years of Room Escapes: The Growth of the US Market

We’ve been tracking the growth of the escape room industry since 2014. After two years, the US market was still growing rapidly. Now, one year later, that hasn’t changed. If anything, it intensified in year three.

US escape room growth over time

Here is last year’s report.

At the end of 2014, there were 22 escape room companies in the US.

By mid 2015, there were at least 100.

At the end of 2015, there were 450.

Today, in mid 2016, there are over 900.

By the end of 2016, there were over 1,400.

At the end of Q2 2017, there were over 1,800.*

Industry growth chart shows the US market grow from a few games in Q1 2014 to a little more than 1800 in Q2 2017.

These days we’re making daily updates. If we spend a long weekend escaping rooms in Los Angeles or Philadelphia, we come home to a mountain of directory updates. We’re still adding over 200 new escape room companies per quarter; that’s companies, not games.

*1,800 is of the end of Q2 on June 30. As of today, that number is just over 1,950.

Why don’t those numbers match the REA directory?

The REA directory covers the United States, Central America, and the Caribbean. It also covers Canadian escape rooms that are just across the US border.

One year ago, we knew of multiple escape rooms in Mexico and one in Puerto Rico.

In the past year, we’ve added listings in Colombia**, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Jamaica, and Panama.

**Colombia is technically in South America, but this company really wanted to be the southern point on our directory, so… why not?

Are all those rooms still open?

Most of the escape rooms we’ve added to the map are still there. We’ve removed 45 escape rooms, or 2.3% of the total rooms added.

Some escape room companies are folding, but they are still opening far more quickly.

How do you count 1,850?

Locations

These numbers count individual locations as different companies. A company with a dozen locations is counted 12 times. Multiple locations can be across the country or just down the street.

Soon-to-open

These numbers count companies that aren’t officially open for business, but are clearly establishing a business that will open soon.

These numbers do not count companies who might open some day. A social media page does not count as “open soon.” Companies need to have a physical address publicized on a legitimate website. Because map. And because links.

Permanence

These numbers include permanent entertainment establishments. We do not list one-time escape room events, even if they are open for a month or two. To the best of our ability, our directory (and this study) includes permanent established businesses.

Business Model

Escape rooms are diversifying as they are influenced by other industries.

We include some interactive puzzle experiences that take place outdoors, as long as they are permanent and predictably operated.

We include some escape rooms set in stores, bars, restaurants, and even a frozen yogurt shop.

We include some escape rooms established in (or by) summer camps, churches, and resorts, as long as they are open to the general public.

So far, the directory includes 13 mobile escape rooms. These companies will come to your business, parking lot, home, or other venue and set up an escape room-style adventure, whether or not exiting a room plays a part.

So which company has the most locations?

In the US, these*** are the companies with more than 5 locations. (There is no measure of quality implied by this list):

Company Count
Key Quest 37
Breakout Games 36
Escape the Room 18
Escapology 16
The Great Escape Room 14
Epic Escape Game 10
Amazing Escape Room 8
Escape the Mystery Room 8
Room Escape Adventures 8
PanIQ Room 7
Texas Panic Room 7
The Escape Game 7
Escape this Live 6
Mastermind Escape Games 6

***Due to the url-based methodology used to find multiple locations, it is possible that we missed some.

The vast majority of escape rooms – almost 1,500 of the 1,883 – are single location operations.

As mentioned above, this counts locations that aren’t fully operational yet, but are clearly in development.

Methodology

Following last year’s study, we published more detailed information on our methodology for tracking the growth of the industry. That information will give you some additional perspectives on this data.

Growth spikes

As mentioned in the methodology outline above, there are notable spikes in escape room growth. This is because we track the date we added a company to the map, which doesn’t necessarily match the date the company opened for business… but we’ve been very on top of this for a long time.

Note the growth in Q3 of 2016. Many of the escape rooms added that quarter, and so many more that we’ve added since, are thanks to Melissa from Connecticut. Since Melissa found our directory last summer, she has devoted countless hours to finding new escape rooms, updating current listings, and investigating questionable information. She volunteers an enormous amount of time to this directory. We cannot thank her enough.

Where are we going?

We will see a lot more openings, both by people who have done careful research and those who have not.

We will find more companies offering experiences sort of like an escape room and we will have to figure out whether they belong in our directory.

We will also see the investment and skill gap start to take its toll on the lower end of the market. This means we expect to see more closures as we know that there are companies that have failed to produce fun games, market effectively, or competently operate a business. Please let us know when companies near you close so that we can continue to track the industry accurately!

Although we will see companies close, that doesn’t mean the industry will come crashing down. In the next year or two, we expect to see the industry expansion slow, but that will not be a sign of impending doom. Every region will have a saturation point and it will not be identical from city to city.

For owners who are worried about local over-saturation harming their business, a word of advice: close your old, low-end games. We frequently hear of players visiting a single game that opened 2 or 3 years ago at an established company and walking out saying, “I can do this.” These outdated escape rooms contribute to the fact that new companies continue to pop up without doing their homework.

In the meantime, no one knows where the saturation point is. If the United States progresses as many other international markets have, there will be a boom, there will a retraction, and then the companies that are strong enough will shift into sustainable models of innovative design.

We’re hopeful for what the next year of innovation and creativity will bring.

Thank you to Melissa from Connecticut for her dedication to the REA directory.

Thank you to our good friend Chris for his enormous help making Excel do our bidding.

Presale Signup! REA Exclusive Event – Escape, Immerse, Explore: NYC 2017

This announcement is now out of date. This has all of the updates.

*****

This has been in the works for a really, really long time… and it’s finally happening!

Come experience the best of New York City’s escape rooms and interactive entertainment with Room Escape Artist this November!

If you don’t need to hear any more… sign up for the presale.

About Escape, Immerse, Explore: NYC 2017

Join us November 3-5, 2017 for this first of its kind high-end escape room and immersive experience tour.

Escape Immerse Explore NYC 2017 logo

During our weekend-long event, we will be taking participants on a largely personalized journey through some of New York City’s most interesting escape rooms and immersive games. 

Escape Rooms

As part of the event, you will visit at least four escape rooms from some of the best escape room companies* in New York City including, but not limited to:

Your escape room tour will be led by an experienced escape room player who knows how to get around New York City.

We worry about the logistics of this city and you escape the rooms!

*Not every tour will visit every company.

Group Events

First Person Xperience’s RED in Long Island City is a 75-minute psychological thriller where guests are immersed in an apocalyptic story, interact with real actors and special effects, and work together to complete an objective. RED is a live action experience where your actions and decisions matter, because in this show, YOU control how the story ends!

Escape Entertainment in Herald Square will be our hosts for a morning of breakfast, networking, and escape games.

Lisa and David will be giving a talk by players for players. Lisa and David have been featured speakers at Transworld’s Escape Room Shows in Chicago in 2016 and Niagara Falls in 2017 and at Up The Game in The Netherlands in 2017. This presentation will be exclusively available to event participants.

In Accomplice’s The Cabinet of Curiosities, only available for large group bookings, guests enter a mythical establishment like no other, with an upscale carnivalesque steampunk atmosphere and inventive games and puzzles, led by a colorful crew of misfits called the Curiosities. In this immersive party, you are also invited to participate in a hunt to uncover a secret moonshine recipe, sure to make your morning all the more extraordinary. That is, of course, if you succeed!

Packages

Escape, Immerse, Explore  – $829

This includes RED, Networking at Escape Entertainment, Lisa and David’s talk, a guided
tour with at least four escape rooms, and The Cabinet of Curiosities.

VIP Escape, Immerse, Explore – $999

This includes RED, Networking at Escape Entertainment, Lisa and David’s talk, a tour
with at least four escape rooms led by Lisa or David, and The Cabinet of Curiosities.

With this ticket, you will have either Lisa or David as your tour guide. (Only 12 available!)

Particulars

The event begins on Friday, November 3rd at 5pm. The Friday evening event is in Long Island City, Queens, a short subway ride from Times Square (NOT on Long Island). Note that booking times on Friday evening will vary. You are welcome to request an earlier or later booking time.

The event will wrap up at 1pm on Sunday, November 5th. At the conclusion of the event, you will be near Times Square.

Presale

By signing up for the presale, we will send you a PayPal invoice to purchase your tickets before they are sold to the public. I’m in!

After purchasing tickets

After purchasing tickets, you’ll receive the link to a short survey about your experience with New York’s escape rooms. You’ll also receive additional information about:

  • Recommended accommodations
  • Traveling to New York City
  • Discount codes for additional escape rooms with some of the participating companies for the week before and after the tour

FAQ

Why New York City?

We live here. This city has outstanding escape rooms. We want to show them off!

Why November?

It’s not winter. It’s not summer. And the escape room conferences were back in May.

Why these particular companies?

We selected them because they showcase some of the best in escape rooms and immersive games.

How will we get from game to game?

It will be a combination of walking and subway. Because New York. So you need to be relatively mobile to participate. You don’t need to know anything about New York. You’ll have a guide.

Can I choose my teammates?

The escape room tours will be groups of 4 or 6. You may select a buddy or put together a full group.

I don’t have a team. Will that be a problem?

Not at all. We’ll put you in a group with other escape room enthusiasts from far and wide.

I’ve played most of the games from these companies. Can I still participate?

Contact us. There might be an opportunity. We’ll try to make it work.

Will I get to choose which escape rooms I play?

No, but you’ll fill out a survey and based on that we’ll put you into games that we think will work well for you. You’ll find out your tour schedule far enough in advance that you can book additional games for yourself before or after the weekend.

I’m an escape room owner/employee and/or immersive experience designer. Can I participate?

Yes!

I have nothing to do with the escape room industry. I just want to play all the games! Can I participate?

Yes!

What should I do about airfare and hotels?

Your ticket does not cover travel or lodging. However, we will send you recommended hotel accommodations and information about travel to NYC after you purchase a ticket.

Are meals included in the ticket price?

The ticket includes brunch at Escape Entertainment on Saturday and brunch as part of The Cabinet of Curiosities on Sunday. Saturday’s escape room tour will have a meal break where you can purchase food.

I can’t make it that weekend. Will you run this again?

If it goes well, we’ll consider running it again in New York or elsewhere.

Why can’t I purchase tickets right now?

We are hammering out a few final details. If you sign up for presale, you’ll get to purchase your tickets very soon.

Can I buy a ticket for someone under 18?

Contact us.

How many tickets are available?

There are 50 tickets available. They will go to the first 50 people who either sign up for presale or purchase them when ticketing opens.

That’s an expensive ticket…

We know. It includes 4 escape rooms, 2 immersive games, 2 meals, an unlimited metro card, a tour guide, a talk, and a mystery… and we’re taking care of all the logistics. Plus, New York is expensive. You know, it’s a pretty good deal!

How long have you been planning this?

A very long time. We’re pretty sure we’ve got something great here.

Can I sponsor this event?

Contact us about sponsorship opportunities.

What if I have other questions?

Contact us.

We look forward to seeing you in New York this November!

Sign up for presale now!

Lisa & David on the Up The Game Podcast

Up The Game Logo - A keyhole in an arrow pointing upwards.

Shortly before we delivered our talk at Up The Game in The Netherlands, we sat down with Anna-Maria Giannattasio for a lovely 3.5 minute interview that reveals my most annoying trait as an escape room player…

(UTG2017 | Speakers – Lisa & David Spira)

Ours is the second podcast of the series to post. A great interview with Professor Scott Nicholson is already live and there are many more to come. Stay tuned.