Real Escape Game

Escape from the Werewolf Village

On Wednesday I posted about some Escape the Room Flash games.  How about something a little more tangible?  Real Escape Game is—you guessed it—a live and in-person version of the traditionally virtual Escape the Room game genre.

Real Escape Game, or REG, was created by Takao Kato, the founder of SCRAP Co, a Japanese “free paper” magazine.  Kato says he came up with the idea while trying to think of a fun new event concept and talking with a girl who was hooked on online Escape the Room games.  The first REG event in 2007 was a huge success, and Kato has been designing and running games across Japan, China, and Singapore ever since.  And later this month, Real Escape Game will make its USA debut in San Francisco!

Real Escape Games take place in a wide variety of venues, from massive, sprawling arenas like Tokyo Dome and Jingu Baseball stadium, to more intimate and stylish locations like clubs, galleries, and even cathedrals.  The different venue types provide different experiences.  A large venue can accommodate more players and actors, and add a physical sense of urgency by sending teams running from one clue to the next.  Smaller venues, on the other hand, might allow for more interaction between teams and help emphasize the theme of really being “trapped” in a room.

Each game has a different storyline and theme.  The upcoming San Francisco game, called Escape from the Werewolf Village, will have players searching for three werewolves among 16 villagers, while an Osaka game will put players in the shoes of bank robbers trying to make their getaway before the cops arrive.

So what can you expect from a Real Escape Game?  Listen to Kato describe one of the first events he ran:

“The adventure progressed with things like dead bodies falling from the ceiling, infrared beam crossings, trying to find your way in total darkness, and games where you have to shine light on the wall with a mirror. Everyone went crazy over it.”

I imagine they did!  Players should expect to work with a team of strangers searching for clues, solving puzzles, and sometimes moving from location to location.  The goal of the game is to provide a fun and unique experience, but the challenge is real.  The difficulty of the puzzles combined with a 1-2 hour time limit lead to an average escape rate below 10%!


San Francisco has a thriving puzzle hunt community, being host to events like The GameBANG, Iron Puzzler, and the Shinteki Decathlon, making it the perfect testing ground for REG in the U.S.

In line with the game’s Japanese roots, Escape from the Werewolf Village will be held in the NEW PEOPLE J-Pop gallery/shopping center in San Francisco’s Japantown.  The game will run from March 23rd-25th, with two games on Friday, and three games on both Saturday and Sunday. It should take about 1.5 hours, and tickets are an extremely affordable $20 in advance, or $25 at the door.  Players are only allowed to attend one of the eight available games over the course of the weekend (probably to curb cheating).  Learn more at the official website and purchase tickets at the NEW PEOPLE site.

I can only hope that Kato finds his Real Escape Game to be so wildly successful in the U.S. that they quickly expand and bring REG to the east coast!