EMDD Seminar: EMDD Goes to the Escape Room

Transmedia designers need to understand how to build experiences. To do that, they need to spend time immersed in evocative and enacting spaces. We’re lucky. Indianapolis has one of the premiere “escape room” companies in the Midwest. With forty employees, five rooms, and a wicked location, The Escape Room gave 14 members of Cohort One the chance to test their skills against the clock.

Here’s how The Escape Room works:

  • Teams of 4-8 people enter one of the five experiences. A Room Guide sets out the rules, and then monitors the team from a remote location.
  • Each experience is made up of multiple rooms, each with puzzles that must be solved.
  • Each team has 60 minutes to escape their rooms, which means solving an ever-increasingly complex series of puzzles.
  • Teams can ask for three hints.
  • The Room Guides monitors the team from a central control room, and provides some nudging when necessary.

Sounds easy enough.

The Escape Room Mission Control

While participants are in the room, the Room Guides monitor what is happening in each experience. The mission control area gives Room Guides the chance to monitor progress, send along cryptic nudges when necessary, and provide specific hints when asked. (Players can hit a button on the way of the first room whenever they need help.)

The Jail Break Group

Teams have 60 minutes to try to solve their puzzles, and proceed through each experience. One of our teams survived the Jail Break experience. They survived with just a few minutes to spare.

The Art Heist Group

Our other two teams didn’t fare so well. Art Heist and the Vault Heist were tough, and our teams tried to tackle the experience without many hints. (The control room monitors kept asking me: “How stubborn are your students?” The answer: Very.)

The Post Mortem

The point of the experience was two-fold.

One: The EMDD students needed to experience a well run, well designed enacting and evocative space. They needed to see what happens when you are thrust into a space and have a limited time to engage. 

Two: They needed to understand how this type of experience was built, how it was designed, and how it could be used. 

Luckily, The Escape Room Scott Neal stayed with Cohort One for thirty minutes, explaining the process they go through as they design the events, the problems they try to plan for, and the changes they make after getting feedback.