Unlocking Escape Games in Edinburgh and Glasgow
Why the live-action games are becoming increasingly popular in Scotland
Fans of fun family days out, team-building exercises and parties with a difference may have noticed a few escape games – immersive challenge venues which involve solving puzzles to escape from a locked room – springing up around Edinburgh and Glasgow of late. Yet both cities are relatively late adopters, says Alastair Watson, director of Edinburgh’s Can You Escape? He first had the idea after visiting Budapest, a city which he says sports around 60 escape games. They’re also increasingly popular in America and London, and most major UK cities now have at least one game.
‘The beauty of them is that each one’s different,’ says Watson, who designed Can You Escape? alongside his staff, ‘with various difficulty levels and so on. We’re starting to see people travelling around the country trying to do them all.’ CYE uses two of what he calls ‘scenario-based’ games, one involving an attempted break-in and the other with an outer-space theme, while other venues on this page offer different spins on the theme. CYE is also keen to start an outdoor game for Edinburgh, a mobile game for corporate customers and possibly move into venues in other cities.
Watson says he’s surprised how competitive some groups get about it, especially because escape is by no means guaranteed; only around fifty percent of groups do it. ‘I think these games are so popular because the entertainment market hasn’t seen anything new for a long time,’ he says. ‘You’ve got bowling, you’ve got cinema, but nothing else which appeals to such a diverse audience – until now.’