#56 - Escape Room Fans


What if you only had 60 minutes to escape from this podcast? To unravel the puzzles of Crimson Room or the (surprisingly) lucrative business of locking people in a room? Well, you’d probably fail (but so would we). Listen in as we talk about fans of an even more puzzling experience: Escape Rooms!

Next week, we wrap up the season with a Nickscast favourite (and a special guest) as we talk about fans… of the Legend of Zelda series!

Episode outline

Fandom Facts

Origins and history:
Escape rooms, also known as room escape, escape games, escape the room, and so on, are physical adventure games where participants are required to solve a variety of puzzles using riddles, clues, and hints contained in the room within a fixed time limit. Sometimes, the rooms are thematically linked (e.g. a museum heist) or they can be a series of abstract puzzles with no linking theme.

The concept of an escape room is heavily inspired by the similarly named video game genre where players are required to escape a room by pointing and clicking around a room to exploit their surroundings. The earliest example of this style of game is likely the 1988 text adventure, Behind Closed Doors, where the player has to escape a restroom, but some better known examples might include MOTAS (Mystery Of Time And Space, 2001), Crimson Room (2004), and Viridian Room.

Arguably… fans of escape rooms are fans of this genre of video games, but that remains to be seen!

The first escape room was created in Japan by SCRAP in 2007 and the concept later spread to other parts of Asia, then Europe… then, the world! There are now almost 2000 escape rooms in the United States alone.

Most Active:
The concept of an escape room didn’t really start to solidify until Crimson Room was released as Adobe Flash freeware… which conveniently was released in 2004 (the first year where Google Trends data is available).

Examining that data, it is clear that the fandom is the most active it has ever been. While there was some spike in interest in the term around 2007, it has been on a meteoric rise ever since approximately 2015.

Size of Fandom:
Since escape rooms are more business-oriented, it’s a bit harder to dig into the size of the fandom. Still, we have a few metrics we can use as rough estimators:

  • The escaperooms subreddit has almost 2000 subscribers
  • There are almost 2000 escape room companies in the US
    • If the average group size is 4, and each room has at least one group a week, that would be about 416 000 fans (this is likely a grossly conservative estimate)

Complicating matters is that participation does not imply fandom.

Fan Demographics:
From a variety of different surveys, we can get a rough idea of the kinds of folks who participate in escape rooms. We managed to find three surveys: Escape Room Demographic Survey (~600 respondents), Peeking Behind the Locked Door: A Survey of Escape Room Facilities (~175 respondents), and 2017 Escape Room Enthusiast Survey (~250 respondents).

Broadly speaking, these appear to be the demographics:

  • Gender: Roughly equal representation of male / female genders
  • Age: Largest category is folks between ages of 26-30. The majority of respondents are under 35 (approximately two-thirds; more or less consistent between surveys)
  • Most groups who participate are mixed gender (70-80%)
  • Largest group (48%) identify as ambiverts; 36% as extraverts, and 20% as introverts

Last Episode’s Famous Last Words

What is the biggest escape room? (e.g. is there a house where its entirety is an escape room)

The first escape room was inspired by red room simulator.

Is there a survival horror escape room (where you think you’re going to die)?
Is there a super realistic museum heist?


the 999 DS/3DS games :) and there’s going to be a Detective Conan themed escape room at Universal Studios Japan next year as part of their Cool Japan promo

The Verdict

G is in. Looking for more! (But no horror stuff; kthx)

T is in.

Z is in… Until someone makes a Twin Peaks escape room like the black lodge. Then he is out.

This week’s spotlight

Room Escape Divas
The Room Escape Divas is a podcast about escape rooms by Mike Yuan, Ruby Yuan, Manda Whitney, and Errol Elumir. Errol also runs The Codex which is a blog about escape rooms (which is also where you can find the 2017 Escape Room Enthusiast Survey).

Famous Last Words

This week’s famous last words around next week’s fandom, Zelda fans!

What is the oldest fan-made timeline?

When did people start caring about what the Zelda timeline was?

Is there a band that only has instruments from the Zelda games?

Where can you find us online?

We are everywhere! Most notably though, we like to hang out in a few places on social media:

  • If you want to help us to create more amazing fannish content, become a patron on Patreon; even as little as a dollar a month pledge really helps us out!
  • If you want to be part of our podcast (or just want to check us out), we record our podcast LIVE on twitch.tv every monday at 20:00 Eastern Time!
  • For all the latest updates, check us out on Facebook or Twitter
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  • We’re also on iTunes, and Google Play, and would love it if you could leave a review and rating!
  • if you want to reach us, and for some reason none of those work for you, try nick@thenickscast.com
  • You can check out our website; that will mostly bring you back to this stuff.
  • Everything is thenickscast, so if you can’t find us, go on your social network and search for that!
  • … You’re still looking for ways to reach out? You can also use the hashtag #fanthro on Twitter!

What is “Fanthropological”?

How did you read this far without asking this question?!

Fanthropological is an anthropological (ish) podcast where we bring the fan’s-eye view to you! Each week, we take a look at a different fandom, dig up interesting background, trivia, and history, and try to get to why it is that people are a fan. We also try to highlight good causes related to that fandom, and find interesting things that fans have created to share those to the world. Each episode is about an hour. Ish.

Who is “The Nickscast”?

We are the Nickscast! Three products of late-80s / early-90s pop culture who love exploring fandom and everything geek … who also happen to have been best buddies since high school, and all happen to be named Nick. Yes, we are super creative. Dare we say, the most creative.


We are Nick Green, Nick Terwoord, and Nick Zacharewicz: We started the Nickscast as a labour of love, and as a place to entertain and to discuss our love of fans and fandom, and all that is shiny and interesting in that realm. It’s what lead us to start our first podcast, our satellite podcasts, Fanthropological, and so much more.

We want to help others learn more about different fandoms, and to create empathy with other fans: We dream of a world where other fans aren’t “those Weird-o’s”, but just folks with different tastes. A world where fandom is full of discourse and analysis, and there are plenty of tools and resources to help. Fans building communities to do good in the world. Because everyone’s a fan.




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