Escape Rooms fill a need for work and play
By Benjamin Lashar
People never really grow out of games. Adults might not be reaching for Guess Who like when they were kids, but they still play games, downloading the latest smartphone game, gathering to play poker, and pairing up with couples for game nights. Some entrepreneurs have figured out that games are not only fun, they are also profitable.
Nowhere is this more apparent than escape rooms, where a group is locked in a room and must get out through teamwork, interacting with their environment, and solving puzzles. America went from 22 escape rooms nationwide four years ago to 2,000 today. Hamilton County has developed an escape room presence good enough to challenge any metropolitan area.
The Disney of Escape Rooms
Indiana owes its escape room presence to the Escape Room USA chain. Run by two local couples, the Neals and Harbrons, The Escape Room USA has locations in Indianapolis, Fishers, and Columbus, Ohio. They are Indiana’s first escape room company and the highest reviewed escape room chain in America.
Growing to such a level was not easy. Marjorie Neal and Brendon Harbron note that many escape companies do not invest enough upfront, leading to rooms that are little more than a monotonous string of locked boxes. They instead wanted to create rooms that felt like adventures while still remaining reasonably priced. They invested in props, electric work, and a floor that allows multi-level rooms.
Puzzles begin upon entry. Customers must answer a riddle to open a secret door that leads to the lobby. The lobby itself is more of a lounge, featuring comfortable chairs, outdoor seating, a wide selection of local beer and wine, and a few brain teasers to warm up the customers.