• Breakout Escape Rooms

The Origin of Breakout Escape Rooms in America

What led up to the first Breakout Room in America?

Games have been played by all civilizations throughout history. It may have started with grunts, stones or sticks, but boy has it evolved.


It was just a matter of time before the first Real Life Escape Game would be created.

That was in 2007 by the Japanese company SCRAP they took the video game concept and turned it into a Live Escape Room. Its founder, Takao Kato, wanted players to be immersed into a live action themed game. We all owe Mr Kato a big thank you!


Now, Let’s look at how some escape room components got their start


The Labyrinth

A labyrinth is a meandering, singular path leading to a center. Used symbolically, these ancient archetypes can date back 4,000 years or more and were used for walking meditation, choreographed dancing, and rituals, and many other things. People often sought after them, using them as tools for personal, psychological and spiritual transformation, and were believed to have enhanced right-brain activity. Labyrinths evoke metaphor, sacred geometry, spiritual pilgrimage, religious practice, mindfulness, environmental art, and community building.

As you can see with Labyrinths, many elements of today’s games didn’t start out as such.



Hedge row/maze

Became popular in 16th century Europe. Starting out as a place for self or spiritual reflection and over 2 centuries some evolved into a game like challenge.

Your favorite corn maze may have Roots, dating back to ancient Labyrinths or Hedge rows


Lets not forget a few of the generic staples and historical steps that led to today's Escape Room content.


  • Brain Teasers have a long History around the world & can fit into most game designs.

  • Knock knock jokes and puns have always made me chuckle. Laughter is a prerequisite for most Rooms.

  • I had friends that couldn't get enough Sudoku (Modern origin by Howard Garns 1979. My girlfriend is always the first to solve this style puzzle.


  • My father worked crossword puzzles everyday for most of his life. Those were first published by: Arthur Wynne 1913 in the New York World). Many of the first escape games had a final puzzle made up of a crossword.






  • Scavenger hunts aren't just for Easter eggs. Done correctly even adults enjoy searching for clues throughout escape rooms.. Road Rally style scavenger hunts have been around for over 60 years but there isn't much data on when they first started. In the early days you would be handed clues or a game card. With the help of a paper map, you would drive around town solving clues. Your car would be racing around town trying to beat other car loads of gamers. In the past 20 years they have evolved into Geocaching.com or cell phone driven games.

  • The escape game, like murder mysteries, has been around since the 1980s. Most had a storyline and static clues that led to figuring out who the murderer was. Scooby and the gang would be Groovy to watch play an Escape Game. [???]

  • Video games like Myst (1993) captured elements of puzzle solving that move through a game or story.

  • Cryptography, the use of codes and ciphers to protect secrets, began thousands of years ago. Until recent decades, encryption that use pen and paper, or perhaps simple mechanical aids were all that existed. Today powerful Encryption is used for almost all data and communication performed by computers. But us Escape game enthusiasts love a creative cipher.



The first Escape Game video game, Crimson Room, was created in 2004 by Toshimitsu Takagi. Takagism: Is still used in many places when referring to room escape games. Exit Games is also a phrase used outside America in place of terms like Escape room or Escape game


By Early 2014, Escape the Room (New York) opened with Breakout Ferndale, MI, becoming the second Escape game company across the Midwest and Eastern states in July.

The Ringmasters Den with its carnival Circus theme was a unique concept at that time of mostly office-themed games.

Breakout also is known for creating the CLASSIC OVER-PROPPED GROUP PHOTO.



That brings us up to today. In 2019 Roomescapeartist.com posted their study showing that in 2018 and 2019 there were around 2350 active escape room companies operating in America. Several new internet, cell phone,Vr and boxed escape room games have also recently launched.


If you love Escape Games this is may be the biggest CLUE & Key to the future success of this genre

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