Es­cape rooms on the rise

Global Times – Metro Beijing - - TWO CENTS - By Ash­ley Nowka

The new­est trend on the rise for my for­eign friends and Chi­nese stu­dents I teach is vis­it­ing dif­fer­ent es­cape rooms around the city. These es­cape venues range from apart­ments that have been con­verted into life­like scenes to en­tire build­ings made to look like a dif­fer­ent world.

I have been hear­ing my friends and stu­dents talk about the dif­fer­ent themed es­capes they have been try­ing around the city. There are World War II themed es­capes, Al­ca­traz prison es­capes and hid­den dun­geon es­capes. Each of these es­capes of­fer a dif­fer­ent les­son and feel, which keeps peo­ple vis­it­ing es­cape rooms for new chal­lenges. You can choose one-hour es­capes, or longer. But they think that the two-hour or longer es­cape is the best. My stu­dents joked about the one-hour es­cape not be­ing enough.

I can cer­tainly ap­pre­ci­ate a good his­tory les­son while hav­ing fun, but I am sur­prised at how pop­u­lar es­cape room par­ties have be­come in Bei­jing. I had heard about the con­cept of an es­cape room for team build­ing be­fore I left Amer­ica, but the va­ri­ety among es­cape rooms in Bei­jing is some­thing spe­cial.

The pace of life in Bei­jing is fast. Ev­ery­one al­ways seems to be mov­ing, work­ing, learn­ing and on the move. The idea of putting our­selves in a stress­ful sit­u­a­tion and chal­leng­ing our­selves to es­cape on pur­pose is funny. Our es­cape on the week­ends from the pres­sure of the week has be­come try­ing to es­cape an­other re­al­ity. I won­der what peo­ple liv­ing in Nazi Ger­many dur­ing World War II or the pris­on­ers of Al­ca­traz would think about peo­ple pre­tend­ing to be trapped in their world.

I can­not help but won­der if some­day there will be a room where young peo­ple can go and try to es­cape the pres­sures of city life in Bei­jing. What would that es­cape room look like? Would there be sim­u­la­tions of sub­ways dur­ing rush hour or gaokao ex­ams to pass? Would you get stuck in a taxi on a busy Bei­jing high­way? Or, maybe you would need to nav­i­gate your way through old, wind­ing hu­tong streets. It is funny to imag­ine fu­ture gen­er­a­tions es­cap­ing their re­al­i­ties on the week­end by ex­pe­ri­enc­ing life in our gen­er­a­tion. It is also funny to use your week­end es­cap­ing the week by try­ing a lit­eral es­cape. I guess we can all be thank­ful for an es­cape every now and again.

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