Xcaping with other thrill-seekers

Mr Alvin Koh and his wife Lynn Wong are both keen players, even travelling abroad to check out escape rooms in Taipei and other cities.
Mr Alvin Koh and his wife Lynn Wong are both keen players, even travelling abroad to check out escape rooms in Taipei and other cities.PHOTO: COURTESY OF ALVIN KOH

The growth of escape game providers in Singapore has given rise to a community of avid players.

They trade tips and reviews on blogs and social media, and sometimes meet to play together. The largest group is a public one, Escape Games Meetup, which has more than 240 members.

Regular players say most fans of escape rooms are in their 20s and 30s.

"We enjoy puzzles, and escape rooms are full of them," said Mr Benjamin Huang, 20, who is doing his national service.

He reviews game rooms online with eight others as part of a group called S-capegoats.

Having played in 61 game rooms and 10 events, he relishes a challenge, saying that few things can top the thrill of a successful escape.

Although many enjoy escape games, groups tend to be exclusive, said Mr Huang. This is because teamwork is needed, and players can find it hard to build rapport with people they do not know.

Mr Alvin Koh, 35, a researcher at Nanyang Technological University, noted that some people find escape rooms too expensive to visit often.

"I had trouble finding like-minded friends to go with me," he said.

But he has since found other puzzle-lovers and, last year, he visited escape rooms two to three times a week with them.

His greatest challenge so far has been a laser field in a game room at Xcape. Quick thinking alone did not cut it - players needed physical strength and agility as well.

Mr Koh has tried all the escape rooms here, and said it takes months for new rooms to appear.

He looks forward to large-scale escape events, which come along every three to four months.

There are at least two event companies, alongside independent organisers, that run them here.

Using his experience, Mr Koh even helps design puzzles for organisers of the Real Escape Game, held every four to five months here.

Not everyone who enjoys escape rooms is a regular player. For some like Ms Wendy Ong, 26, the activity is just a way to bond with friends.

The accounts executive has been to escape rooms only twice.

She said: "It's not just about solving riddles, but about having the best of times with your friends."

Seow Bei Yi

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 26, 2015, with the headline 'Xcaping with other thrill-seekers'. Print Edition | Subscribe