top of page

Trapped in Time: The Early Days of Escape Games

While escape rooms might seem like a modern phenomenon, the concept of solving puzzles and riddles to progress or escape dates back centuries. At Stumptown Escape Games, we're not just enthusiasts of the current escape room trend; we're also captivated by its historical roots. Let's journey back in time to uncover the early history of escape games.

1. Ancient Puzzle Boxes and Locks: Long before the advent of digital technology, ancient civilizations crafted intricate puzzle boxes and locks. In ancient China, artisans designed puzzle boxes with secret compartments that could only be accessed by solving a series of mechanical challenges. These boxes were often used to store valuables and personal treasures, ensuring that only those with the knowledge or intellect to unlock them could access their contents.

2. Literary Inspirations: Books have long fueled our imagination with tales of trapped protagonists seeking escape. Edgar Allan Poe's "The Pit and the Pendulum" depicts a man's desperate attempt to avoid deadly traps. Similarly, Agatha Christie's mysteries often present locked-room scenarios where the solution lies in unravelling clues. These literary works laid the narrative groundwork for the immersive storylines we see in escape rooms today.

3. Video Game Precursors: The digital age brought a new dimension to escape games. In the 1980s and 1990s, video games like "Myst" and "The Room" challenged players to explore virtual environments, solving puzzles to progress. These games, with their intricate graphics and compelling storylines, captured the essence of physical escape rooms, making the player feel "trapped" in a digital realm.

4. Birth of Modern Escape Rooms: The transition from screen to real-life was a game-changer. In 2007, Takao Kato was inspired to bring the concept of video game escape challenges to the real world in Kyoto, Japan. His escape game was a resounding success, sparking a global phenomenon. Soon, escape rooms began popping up in Europe, the United States, and beyond, each offering unique themes and challenges.

Escape games have evolved from ancient puzzle boxes to gripping video games and now, immersive real-world experiences. Their enduring appeal lies in the human desire to solve mysteries, challenge our intellect, and, of course, escape. At Stumptown Escape Games, we're proud to be a part of this rich history, crafting escape room experiences that honor the past while pushing the boundaries of innovation.


bottom of page