There are now somewhere around 50 room-escape games scattered throughout the Hungarian capital.
„There are now somewhere around 50 room-escape games scattered throughout the Hungarian capital. The quality and settings vary dramatically, but all share a premise: Lock a small group in a room or rooms filled with clues and obstacles, and see if, through deductive logic, teamwork and a bit of luck, they can figure their way out. In other words: a live-action video game.
»Have you heard of flow theory?« Attila Gyurkovics asked. It’s an unlikely explanation for the games’ appeal, but coming from a former social worker who created ParaPark, Budapest’s first room escape, it makes sense. »You lose yourself,« Mr. Gyurkovics said. »You’re not standing outside yourself saying, ‘Oh, I have to call my mom’ or ‘My boss is watching over me.’ You become completely absorbed by the game.«
Mr. Gyurkovics got the idea for ParaPark from his work in team-building. He had originally thought of building a kind of rope course to help businesses and schools foster collaboration. But a Big Fish video game made him think there was a better option. »At first, people looked at me like I was crazy: ‘You want to open a place where you lock people inside?’ « he recalled. But with a clear vision, and the help of some family money, he opened ParaPark late in 2011.
Today, Mr. Gyurkovics has four games in two locations in Budapest, and has franchised several more elsewhere in Hungary and abroad. The oldest takes place in a pair of crumbling windowless rooms not far from the Nyugati rail station in Budapest. Locked inside its rough walls are ruined furniture and dozens of curious objects (wooden puzzles, a scary jack-in-the-box, a computer monitor that mysteriously turns itself on) that may or may not contain clues.”