Adventure seekers: Rochester is about to get its first ever 'escape room'
(THE MED CITY BEAT) - A Rochester man is looking for people willing to pay money to trap themselves in a room for an hour.
Nathan Schroeder will soon begin taking reservations for the Escape Challenge, a real-life adventure game in which participants will solve puzzles to find their way out of a locked room.
Schroeder is in the process of setting up his first mission in a space at 20 Sixth Street NW, just north of downtown. He hopes to begin accepting online reservations within the next month.
So what is the Escape Challenge? Essentially, it's a team-building exercise that emphasizes critical thinking skills. Here's how Schroeder describes the experience on the business's website:
After entering a room with your team, the door is locked behind you. Sixty minutes are on the clock! You must work together in order to find clues and solve puzzles that will lead you to your escape.
It is part scavenger hunt and part puzzle game. Only about 20 percent of groups are able to meet the challenge and escape in time.
In a phone interview with the Med City Beat on Friday, Schroeder admitted the concept is "a little out there." But he said real-life escape games are actually becoming a big thing right now, mostly in larger cities like Minneapolis.
"This concept has been relatively popular in some other countries for a while now," said Schroeder. "But it's starting to get some legs, pop-culture wise, in the U.S. right now."
It's true. A number of hits shows, from The Big Bang Theory to The Bachelorette, have featured escape rooms in episodes within the past year. In a show just a couple months ago, late-night host Conan O'Brien participated in the challenge at an escape room in downtown Los Angeles.
The first known real-life escape room opened in Japan eight years ago. According to a report by CNBC, the idea spread to China, Taiwan and other parts of Asia, before reaching the U.S. in 2012.
Escape Challenge's first mission will put local participants in the role of thieves on the run in Oslo, Norway. To keep things fresh, he plans to rotate in more missions as the business grows.
Teams of 4-10 will be able register in advance on the business's website. Schroeder expects the cost to be about $30 per person.
Click here for Escape Challenge's Facebook page.
(Cover graphic: The Med City Beat)