[Published: November 13, 2020]
Our first escape room – The Euphorigen Investigation – came to shape during Summer and Fall of 2020. We interviewed several librarians with experience implementing escape rooms, drew on research from CIP and elsewhere, and produced and tested several iterations, making design decisions along the way.
Online: Due to COVID-19, we decided to work on an online escape room first. Many commercial escape room companies also experimented with various online models. Some strapped a go-pro to an employee and players would tell the person to interact in the actual escape room physical space. Others created fully autonomous online games that people could play on their own. We landed in the middle. We maintain the traditional,in-person format of a live-action game by having teams of 4-6 people play together at a set time, with a gamehost facilitating the experience. We use a video conferencing platform (e.g. Zoom, Microsoft Teams) for real-time collaboration, and a website for gameplay.
Debrief: One of the most important aspects of the game is the debrief discussion. Game literature shows that the opportunity to reflect on a game afterwards is when most learning happens. Euphorigen includes a set of questions to ask players about the game and the real-life implications. This format allows for peer learning.
Gamehost: The gamehost plays an important role. As found in physical rooms, during gameplay the gamehost launches the game, offers hints when people are stuck, and celebrates accomplishments. But the greatest advantage is their role in the post-game debrief discussion. We designed Euphorigen for librarians, teachers, and other educators to offer to the communities they serve. We created a guide and other training resources to quickly bring new gamehosts up to speed.