The Escape Room USA featured in IBJ

escape rooms
450 300 The Escape Room USA Columbus | #1 Rated Columbus Escape Room

Call it bonding. James Bonding.

You’ve got exactly one hour before the bomb explodes/the boat sinks/the guards realize you are escaping from prison. Can you and your co-workers, pals and/or family members get out in time?

The concept of escape rooms—which appeared in Indianapolis in 2015 and have expanded exponentially—is simple: Charge people to figure a way out of a tight, cinematic situation. Blocking the exit are codes, puzzles and other obstacles that rely on innovative thinking, intuition, logic and counterintuitive reasoning rather than brute force to get past.

By 2017, there were an estimated 8,000 such operations around the world.

From left, Krystoffer Warfield, Yenifer Gomez Olguin, Kimberly Moore and Cory Blackwell work together to solve a puzzle that will allow them to “escape.”

The pioneer here—by a hair—was the locally owned The Escape Room Indianapolis, which opened downtown above the Old Spaghetti Factory just a few days before a franchise of the Lexington-based Breakout Games set up shop in Castleton.

Now, with two locations in central Indiana and one in Columbus, the downtown Escape Room started with five rooms but has expanded to seven, including an Indiana University-themed room that opens Sept. 28.

“It replaces our Hoosier Hysteria rooms,” said co-owner Marjorie Neal. “IU contacted us to do a collaboration to celebrate the 200 years of IU history and we’ve been working on it for a year.”

story continues below

Localizing is one way Neal has differentiated her company in an increasingly crowded market. Another is by thinking about the time before and after the escape attempt.

“We decided to have large lounges with local craft beer and wine. Corporations can block out the whole place and do team building for 100 people.” At the Fishers location, two identical escape rooms were created so teams could compete against each other for the fastest time—with opportunities to taunt each other mid-play.

Escape Room Indianapolis picked a location accessible to conventioneers and tourists, while others have set up shop in high-traffic areas such as Mass Ave. But a prestige location isn’t always important. Breakout Games found its first local spot in a GPS-challenging industrial park.


  • 0