My first escape room

Someone asked on the Escape Room Slack: What was your first escape room? Was it enough to get you immediately hooked?

I'll immortalize my response by posting it here:

May 2012. I was in Beijing consulting for a Sudoku tournament. I was editing and checking puzzles during the day, and in the evening my liaison asked if I'd like to try something called 密室 (literally "secret room"), and it was a real-life version of some computer games, and it was a relatively new thing in Beijing and there were maybe a half-dozen or so around. I mentioned that I had played some similar Flash games before and it would be interesting to see what a real one was like. We had a team of 5, all the others were younger than me by maybe 10 years or so. We went to what looked like an unused basement of an office building, smelling of wet concrete. The room was dim but not dark, and one teammate had to be handcuffed to the wall. There was no story, just searching and puzzles. One puzzle had a bunch of numbers that I instantly recognized as Arabic numerals (like ٣٤٥٦٧, not 34567), so I used it in a combo lock and all my teammates were impressed because they had never seen those symbols before. This turned out to be a sequence break that let us skip past three puzzles (at some point we were supposed to get a sheet of paper and blacklight that would've supplied the numerals), and we escaped in 50 minutes. I thought it was interesting but I knew there was nothing like it in the US and wondered if there ever would be. Certainly a lot of the game I just played wouldn't be legal. I thought it might be a fun thing to buy a bunch of locked boxes and puzzles and run it at someone's house. I took some photographs of that game with the thought of maybe running a version of it in the US.


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