In some escape rooms, the employee emphasizes the fact that the room is not locked? Some companies emphasize this more than others. Some escape rooms even go so far as to call themselves Puzzle Rooms, to make it clear that you don’t have to escape anything, but simply solve the puzzles. I have my suspicions about why this is necessary, and it may be related to the overly litigious nature of American business operations.
The rooms that have made a point of saying the room is not locked were all in the U.S. In other countries, there may be a “panic button,” an emergency key, or some other way to make sure you can get out if necessary. In rooms in Portland, Oregon and Denver, Colorado, the company said that it is illegal to lock someone in a room. I’m not entirely sure that is correct, and hourly escape room employees are generally not good sources of legal advice.
Speaking of which, I should point out that nothing in this article, or on this website is legal advice, this is an opinion piece only. Now that that is out of the way, I suspect there are two primary concerns for escape room operators when it comes to locking the door. First, in the case of an emergency, such as a fire or earthquake, there is a slim to nil chance that the people locked in the escape room could be injured or die. Second, maybe they are scared that some jerk will sue them for false imprisonment.
False imprisonment is an old-school tort. This allows someone to seek money damages for their “injuries” if someone restrains another person to a confined area. This can be through the use of a locked door, or by physically holding someone. However, it is generally a defense to the charge of false imprisonment if there is some reasonable way of escaping. In the case of an escape room, a panic button, calling the employee over a walkie talkie to be let out, or using an emergency key all seem to be reasonable means to escape.
Why do you think escape rooms make a point of stating that the rooms are not actually locked?