Sunday, 5 June 2016

Escape room

This sort of collective entertainment has become popular in Poland pretty recently. I have first heard of it in the summer 2015 and back then there were quite a few such facilities in Warsaw; since then several new escape rooms have sprung up and you need to book a room several days in advance if you want to go there on most popular time slots (Thursday / Friday evenings or during weekends).

The very concept is well-explained in the dedicated wikipedia article (funnily enough, there is no Polish version as of today). It is essentially a battle of wits with the forces that lock you up, so participants need to use their brains to crack several logical puzzles to break out of the locked room. Usually the game has a specific theme around which puzzles revolve. Players need to get to grips with the brainteasers within an allotted time. They win if they manage to find a key to the door before this time runs out.

I ventured to such place on Friday evening with my workmates. Such game is said to enhance teamwork skills, yet we went there off our own bat (and paid for it from our own pockets), not being ordered by The New Factory. The facility we visited was located on the third floor of a tenement in the very heart of Warsaw and was a spacious flat redesigned into three escape rooms and an accompanying office. One needs to invest a bit to create this and I estimate the entry costs at some 2 million PLN, assuming a flat is purchased (I cannot imagine a landlord giving tenant a free rein to build an escape room in their property); running costs is what I find harder to estimate. Plus to attract new clients the business-keeper should bring in new themes from time to time… The facility we went had just one significant drawback, namely it lacked air-conditioning, which in the summer season might be a nuisance, when a few persons are locked in a tiny space with area less than 20 square metres.

Most clients of such facilities are companies which send their staff to escape rooms as part of team-building programmes or just to expend integration budgets. The cost is not exorbitant. We had a discount voucher from a workmate who once had been to the same facility, but to a different room and we filled the room with maximum number of participants and ended up with expense per head below 20 PLN, while an average rate you can expect is around 30 – 40 PLN per person, still a sum which will not break the bank.

Though neither enchanted by the game, nor fascinated by it, I will eagerly repeat it in a while and recommend you also try it out with your family, friends, colleagues or whoever you want to enjoy time with.

After the hour of fun and short sit-down at a café I stroll towards the dance school along the crowded streets of the central part of Warsaw. Compared to how it looked like a decade ago, social life in the centre of Warsaw is thriving. Glad to see more and more people lap up the most beautiful part of the year outdoors. In this respects we are catching up with our Western Neighbours who socialise instead of clamming up indoors.

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