The Sage Publication is the student news site of Sage Creek High School in Carlsbad, CA

The Sage

The Sage Publication is the student news site of Sage Creek High School in Carlsbad, CA

The Sage

The Sage Publication is the student news site of Sage Creek High School in Carlsbad, CA

The Sage

Escape to VR Innovates Escape Rooms with a New Concept

Escape rooms have always been a staple in horror, mystery and other brain games. Children and adults enjoy them for the challenges and escapism they provide. One of the only drawbacks of escape rooms is that they are confined by realistic limits. But with virtual reality (VR), the escape room is given a whole new depth and fantastical feeling.
Photo By Sam Carroll
A player prepares for a “final boss” fight, where he and his friends will defeat a monster to complete the room. The party explored a labyrinth and fought a plethora of creatures.

Escape to VR, a Carlsbad VR game room, has exploited technology’s advancements and brought escape rooms to a new standard. Their challenges include dragon shooter games, horror, mystery, space and much more. They also have virtual reality laser tag, where players can shoot their friends and monsters in beautiful landscapes with incredible graphics.

The alluring business is often overlooked with its hidden location across from the Shoppes at Carlsbad at 2365 Marron Rd. The father-daughter pair that created these futuristic escape rooms came up with the idea after using VR for the first time. 

“Honestly, I just tried VR once and I got addicted to it,” Escape to VR owner Sam Benhano explains. “As soon as I tried it, I was like, ‘we’ve got to do something with this.’”

Escape to VR is located across from the Shoppes at Carlsbad at 2365 Marron Road. The building is decorated with LED lights, glass and metal to create a futuristic setting. (Photo By Sam Carroll)

Virtual reality, hence the name, is commonly defined as a virtual world that can convince an individual to believe it is reality. The first creation of the concept can be traced back to the 1960s, but the idea of making the unreal realistic has been portrayed in art for hundreds of years. Panoramas were a staple of art in the 1900s, and their 360-degree design gives a feeling of experiencing the world inside the painting. 

These paintings were intended to fill the viewer’s entire field of vision, making them feel present at some historical event or scene,” History of Virtual Reality explains. 

Some argue that virtual reality is defined by the user’s ability to interact with the virtual environment. An example of this in history may be the Super Cockpit, which was a part of an innovative period for VR. This flight training system is used by the U.S. Air Force to teach young pilots using eye tracking, voice controls and gestures. 

Virtual reality has also been used in many STEM workplaces, such as automotive engineers, surgeons and architecture. Realtors also use VR to showcase properties and lead open houses. 

Still, video games seem to be the most popular definition for virtual reality technology.

By combining virtual reality with escape rooms, Escape to VR has a unique advantage over other escape room businesses. Typical escape rooms are limited by what employees can realistically create with physical materials while still making it family-friendly. When the escape room is in a virtual landscape, game developers have endless tools and possibilities to build it with.

Benhano and his daughter Emily Merlod had the idea of virtual reality escape rooms about three years ago. A  year and a half ago the two were able to open up their business, Escape to VR. They have built a family atmosphere with their employees over the years. Whenever a new game comes in, the team is always ready to test it out.

Angela Huang puts on a virtual reality headset to play the game “Beat Saber.” Escape to VR provides single-player games to entertain customers while they wait for their party. (Photo By Sam Carroll)

“We get to test new games all the time,” Merlod said. “We are actually about to test out a new train heist game that’s in a western universe.”

Escape to VR is partnered with a multitude of game developers. Groups such as vrCAVE, Ubisoft and Hero Zone create the virtual reality escape room games that the business offers. Escape to VR has a great deal of games and they possess most of vrCAVE’s games.

Escape rooms are games of mysteries and clues, so they are best when the player is new to the room. Once a player has completed all of the games, it becomes repetitive to play again. Having so many developer partnerships supplies Escape to VR with yearly games, allowing customers to come back and try new rooms.

“You can only do an escape room once without knowing how it goes, so repeat customers can only last so long for escape rooms,” Escape to VR employee April Genet said. “It’s good that vrCAVE comes out with new ones pretty frequently.”

While their location is seemingly hidden, it is perfect for a night-out stop with friends. Right across from the Shoppes at Carlsbad at, it has a prime location for friends to have a meal then play some games. 

“I used to have a group that came every Tuesday,” says Brandon Rodriguez. “They’d get hammered at Yard House, then come over and play laser tag. It was the most competitive laser tag you’d ever see.”

Escape to VR is about the cost of an average escape room, ranging from $22 to $35 per person. Thrill-seekers can play with up to four people in a game, and children eight and up are able to play. They have a passionate family business built around virtual reality and bring a new, innovative concept to escape rooms for families who want to try something new.

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    Nancy WeatherlyOct 29, 2022 at 8:27 am

    Very interesting article. This concept adds a new level to escape rooms for sure.