People from all over the world love playing Escape Rooms due to their authentic and out-of-the-box nature. Being some of the first Escape Rooms to make their way to North America, Escape from the Time Travel Lab and Trials of the Mad Fox Society have become staples in the growing community of enthusiasts.

As the world of Escape Rooms continues to evolve we begin to wonder; where can new and emerging concepts get their inspiration? Origins of a layered game design may start simpler than you think. Case in point: ball in a cup.

Classic Bilboquet

The ball-and-cup-on-a-string is the predecessor to the fidget spinner and portable gaming as we know it. With cleanup being as easy as catching a ball in a cup, you’d imagine this portable entertainment would have more traction throughout history. Not the case. You’d be considered crazy if you played with what was once called a “Bilboquet” in the 16th century.

Quick history lesson. Long before there was a King of the Bootleggers, there was a king of France.

King Henry III (of France) was one of many to be ostracized during the toy’s early introduction. Being too ahead of its time, the toy would be forgotten upon his death. Not until the 18th and 19th century would the toy make its eventual comeback with King Louis XV. At this point, however, the game was only reserved for nobles.

Ball in a cup would make it’s way to England. With its migration, Pride & Prejudice writer Jane Austen would be among notable figures to have excelled at this primitive puzzle in its early 19th-century timeline.

Once introduced to Japan, ball in a cup would undergo additional changes. Becoming something different altogether, the kendama was a completely different iteration on the idea once ostracized in the 16th century.

Moving forward, Japan would become the birthplace of a brand new toy within the same vein. The spike and ball design added additional tricks to the mix. With new and exciting tricks to be performed, the opportunity for evolution became present. Difficult tasks always seem to pique the interest of the curious, after all.

The moral of the story is that changes are made to classic games all the time. What was once typically known to be a room with miscellaneous clues and instructions has become an intricate maze of mystery! Escape Rooms are even transforming entire villages now!

Nowadays, you are more likely to spot a kendama than a “Ball in a Cup”. The game’s been popularized to the point where there’s even televised competitions! You’ll never know where your next inspiration draws from. “Ball in a Cup” is a great reminder that classic concepts can be revamped for future generations.