An escape room, also known as an escape game, puzzle room, exit game, breakout game, or riddle room is a game in which a team of players discover clues, solve puzzles, and accomplish tasks in one or more rooms in order to accomplish a specific goal in a limited amount of time.The goal is often to escape from the room(s) of the game. However, in recent years it has become more common to complete a task to close a storyline.

The participants in an escape room normally play as a cooperative team of two or more players. Games are set in a variety of fictional locations, such as prison cells, dungeons, and space stations. The player's goals and the challenges they encounter usually align with the theme of the room.

An escape game begins with a brief introduction to the rules of the game and how to win. This can be delivered in the form of video, audio, or a live gamemaster. Then players enter a room or area where a clock is started and they have a limited time to complete the game. During this time, players explore, find clues, and solve puzzles that allow them to progress further in the game. Challenges in an escape room generally are more mental than physical, and it is usually not necessary to be physically fit or dexterous. Different skills are required for different types of puzzles. Well-designed escape room puzzles don't require players to have expert knowledge in any particular field; any specialized or little-known information required to solve a puzzle should be obtainable within the room itself.

If players get stuck, there is usually a mechanism in place so they can ask for hints. Hints may be delivered in written, video, or audio form, or by a live gamemaster or actor present in the experience.

The players "fail" the room if they are unable to complete all of the puzzles within the allotted time, but most escape room operators strive to ensure that their customers have fun even if they don't win. Players may be given different experiences depending on their success or loss in forms of "good endings" and "bad endings" within the room if they win or fail, respectively. Some venues allow players extra time or an expedited walk-through of the remaining puzzles.

Sometimes, teams with fast times are placed on a leaderboard, and records are kept for future teams to beat.

The format of a room or area containing puzzles or challenges has been featured in multiple TV game shows over the years, including Now Get Out of That and The Adventure Game in the early 1980s,among others. Of course, puzzle hunts and scavenger hunt style games have existed long before escape room (Read More on Ghost Runs and Puzzle Hunts). Similar experiences can be found in interactive fiction software and escape the room video games. An early concept resembling modern escapes room was True Dungeon, which premiered at GenCon Indy in Indianapolis in July 2003, created by Jeff Martin. Four years later, Real Escape Game (REG) in Japan was developed by 35-year-old Takao Kato and later brought to the US. Now, there are estimated to be well over 50,000 escape rooms worldwide and growing.