By Grace Huseth

Don’t know what to do with friends and family on winter weekends? It’s perfectly fine, even trendy, to lock them in a room.

In an escape room game, players are locked in a room and must use clues to solve a series of puzzles and riddles to escape within a set time limit. The thrilling game takes teamwork, and cleverness, to figure out clues in order to earn freedom.

In a less than a decade, escape rooms have taken off as entertainment venues around the country and in the city, including Room Escape Atlanta, Breakout Games, Mission: Escape Atlanta, Paranoia Quest and Escape the Room Atlanta.

Room Escape Atlanta on Auburn Avenue has rooms that let people participate in a simulated, but realistic reality TV show called “The Rescue” where players must save four hostages before time runs out. “Trapped in a Room with a Zombie” is a Walking Dead-like scenario to outsmart a zombie before all the participants are eaten.

Marina Sky, creative director at Room Escape Atlanta, previously created set designs for short films and music videos. Now she designs Jigsaw’s lair from the “Saw” movies and heart-pounding paranormal sets for the various escape scenarios.

“The interesting thing about Room Escape is that you have to get into the psyche of the participants. It’s an ongoing process of marrying critical thinking and creative spin,” Sky said.

Solving the first clue in a room is a pivotal point in which participants subconsciously establish their role in the game. Team members start filling roles: the most competitive may assert themselves as leader. Another may serve as organizer, collecting clues such as a list of numbers on a bank statement, a black out light, or an assortment of keys that will be used later in the game. Some accomplices may serve as communicator, ensuring that one person’s observation is communicated to another person trying to crack a tricky code.

Joy Christina, owner of Room Escape Atlanta, said the designers hone the room escape mindset by constantly brainstorming. Each room is a product of collaborative effort where there are no bad ideas. The creators add elements to make participants constantly evaluate between coincidence and calculated placement. The papers in the filing cabinet may include a clue in code, or they may be a red herring.

Not surprisingly, real-life escape rooms evolved from video games, such as “Crimson Room,” where players virtually find clues to make their escape.

“We have cultivated the mindset of being game designers,” Christina said. “We focus our energy on how the clue relates to the room and put a lot of thought into coming up with puzzles that support the overall theme. Everything and anything can strike up an idea.”

Escape This!

Room Escape Atlanta
314 Auburn Ave.
(404) 480-0644 or

Breakout Games – Escape Room
3867 Roswell Road, Ste. 200
(404) 800-9207 or

Mission: Escape Atlanta
500 Bishop St., Suite E3
(678) 369-0050 or

Paranoia Quest – Escape the Room
72 Broad St.
(404) 828-4410 or

Escape the Room Atlanta
200 Peachtree St.
(678) 783-3387 or

Ultimate Escape Game
3200 Cobb Galleria Parkway

Collin Kelley

Collin Kelley has been the editor of Atlanta Intown for two decades and has been a journalist and freelance writer for 35 years. He’s also an award-winning poet and novelist.

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