Stockton, a city plagued by a lackluster entertainment scene, is soon to be a home to blossoming new form of the game room.
Stockton Escape is one of four group-based escape room venues opening up in Stockton that have been inspired by sensational flash games that can be found online.
The objective is to work with a group to solve puzzles with or without clues to escape from one of three different scenarios, all within an hour.
“It was originally used for team building, because as you play in a group you bond in a way that’s pretty unique actually. I have a lot of fun doing it, especially with strangers … you don’t know where they’re from, you don’t know if they have family but you have this connection with them. It’s kind of cool,” said General Manager Elizabeth Morgan.
Stockton Escape is partnered with Updraft Ventures, a Rhode Island-based organization dedicated to providing a solid foundation to entrepreneurs specializing in escape games.
Morgan’s Stockton Escape will be the organization’s fourth location, with the others in Maryland, Texas and North Carolina.
Stockton Escape will not be the only escape room in Stockton as the escape concept has become increasingly popular.
Limitless Escape Games in the Lincoln Center is currently under development, and another, The Excape Adventure has already opened it’s doors this year on 1019 E. March Ln.
“Its grown [escape rooms] pretty rapidly. I want to say it started in  overseas actually. It’s evolved here, and they are – again four in less than a year – they are becoming very, very popular. The closest right now are Modesto and Elk Grove, not to mention the Bay,” said Morgan. “It’s very similar to a night at the movies or a night bowling or something but we’re different enough that we’re not like those places.”
Like all of Updraft Ventures infant projects, Stockton Escape will begin with the three games that has been proven to be Updraft Ventures most popular games: The Study, The Gallery and Ex Machina.
In The Gallery you play as an art enthusiast investigating the sudden disappearance of Kate Matheson, an artist being showcased at the Gallery. In The Study, you play an investigating agent looking into Lucius Roberts, an evil scientist with a plot he’s hoping to put into action and finally in Ex Machina you come across an old Victorian era room, with clunky brass machinery and a large vault door you have to open.
“We all start with the same games because these games have been tested multiple times, we already have people playing them, we know they like them. All of these factors that go into making sure opening is successful and then once we’re open we have the option to make our own games,” said Morgan.
The games offered to players are set different levels of difficulty in each room is a computer gives players clues to help if they’re stuck or to move on with the story.
The process is done subtly, in real time over Microsoft PowerPoint with a small tone alerting the players to the clues arrival.
“Each game has a different success rate, so that there is a different difficulty level depending on how many people are in each room and what kind of puzzles are in there. So, say the Gallery – which is a ten percent room has a lot of little puzzles. So, if you look around there’s a bunch of locks, but they’re not particularly hard whereas if you walk into Ex Machina, you might only see four locks, but each of those puzzles will take you up to ten minutes to get further along. We try not to give away too many clues, because we feel like every time you get a clue it’s breaking the environment and we’d very much like you to feel like you’re in this Gallery and being left alone,” said Madison Kilcoyne, a field installer for Updraft Ventures.
Stockton Escape will be open at the earliest Dec. 1, 2017 in the College Square Shopping Center at 959 W. March Ln.