Playing Hong Kong's dangerous game
March 27, 2013 -- Updated 0926 GMT (1726 HKT)
- A hit new game in Hong Kong is bringing people's video fantasies to life
- Teams need to crack codes and solve puzzles to break free from challenges
- Challenges last 45 minutes and only about a quarter of participants escape
- More than 7,000 people have played since it opened in November 2012
(CNN) -- Would you pay to be handcuffed and locked in a dark room? Or blindfolded with four of your friends and shut in a prison cell?
Thousands in Hong Kong have answered yes to those questions, taking part in a new game that challenges teams to break free from sticky situations by solving puzzles, sussing-out clues and breaking codes.
Participants say the attraction lies in seeing your video-game or movie fantasies come to life.
"It's not any normal kind of entertainment," said student Kelly Tsang, after she and four friends failed to break free from Dr. Alpha's Laboratory, which featured a "Mission Impossible" style laser maze. "We normally go shopping or to a movie."
"Freeing HK" charges players around $16 each to take part in one of the games, with names like "Prison Break" and "The Lost Chamber." Each challenge lasts 45 minutes and only about a quarter of participants manage to escape, owners said.
Despite the spooky music and claustrophobic surroundings, the atmosphere here is more Sherlock Holmes than horror movie. Teams can have one clue from the organizers if they get stuck. The hallway is plastered with signs from players holding signs that read either "We're Free" or "We Failed."
Allan Lam, a hotel clerk who came to play with a group of his colleagues, believes the real escapades were a lot harder than the virtual ones. To pick a lock in video games, "you just click," he said, but in real life it's a much tougher task.
But people seem to like the challenge. More than 7,000 people have played since the doors opened in November. Two new locations are expected to open by the end of May. They'll offer new games with names like "Vampire Castle" and "Around the World." The owners say it can take about 20 staffers up to a month to design a single game.
Instant Wan and Raymond Sze, two of Freeing HK's founders, said the idea came from popular video games.
"So many people are sitting in front of a computer in a virtual world. We want to bring them into the real world," Wan said.
And if Wan and Sze have their way, that world will be home to many more locations of "Freeing HK."
"We plan to expand to Mainland China, Macau and other places in Asia first. And we think if there are any chances, we will expand to other countries as well," Wan said.
Part of complete coverage on
March 3, 2014 -- Updated 1033 GMT (1833 HKT)
Mobile World Congress spans the full spectrum of untethered gadgetry Explore this year's top trends with Stuff Magazine Editor Will Findlater.
February 28, 2014 -- Updated 1623 GMT (0023 HKT)
Cocoa-nomics: Why chocolate really doesn't grow on trees. CNN returns to Africa's cocoa plantations to examine the fight against child labor.
February 27, 2014 -- Updated 1958 GMT (0358 HKT)
CNN's Maggie Lake speaks to Lego CEO Jørgen Vig Knudstorp about why Lego continues to be a hugely popular toy.
February 27, 2014 -- Updated 2032 GMT (0432 HKT)
A Japanese rocket roared into orbit carrying what NASA calls its most precise instrument yet for measuring rain and snowfall.
February 28, 2014 -- Updated 2003 GMT (0403 HKT)
When you hail yourself as a "passionate advocate" for job-seekers, you probably ought not blast one of those job-seekers in a snide e-mail.
February 26, 2014 -- Updated 2201 GMT (0601 HKT)
Love that chocolate Haagen-Dazs ice-cream? But what about the way its makers treat their farmers? Oxfam reveals the ethics behind the brands.
February 20, 2014 -- Updated 1121 GMT (1921 HKT)
SnapScan is an award-winning app allowing buyers to pay with their smartphone -- no need to worry about carrying cash or lost credit cards.
February 18, 2014 -- Updated 1452 GMT (2252 HKT)
In the wake of recent credit card breaches, CNN's Richard Quest explores the threats of the non-cash economy. Is your money as safe as you think?
February 19, 2014 -- Updated 0833 GMT (1633 HKT)
Like many companies in China, Fu Shou Yuan uses celebrities to attract clients. Except, in this case, they're dead. They're in the funeral business.
February 19, 2014 -- Updated 1255 GMT (2055 HKT)
Coca-Cola is staying afloat as the soda market shrinks, and many point to a marketing strategy around the so-called "secret recipe."
Today's five most popular stories