Explore Week 2017 Reflection
Workshop Title: Escape Room
Explore week is designed so that Big Picture students can get a ‘breath of fresh air’ after exhibitions by exploring a new topic. This time around I was part of a group who went to an escape room in Burlington and then attempted to build one. Escape Rooms are set up so that those who participate can solve puzzles and riddles in order to ‘escape’, kind of like a real life video game. The Escape Room that we went to is fairly new in town, but has a lot to offer. Mike Gardner, the owner and brain behind Esc4pe walked us through the process after we completed the room. We did not manage it in the time allowed, but we got close and we discussed our decisions afterwards. The escape room that we completed had a distinctive ‘secret agent’ theme, taking inspiration from Mr. Robot, Mission Impossible, and James Bond. We then set out to build our own escape room. We expected it to be difficult in three days, and it was. Our first step was figuring out a theme for our escape room. We decided to base the escape room off of the 80’s movie “The Breakfast Club” and have the goal be to escape “detention.” Once we worked all that out, we had to figure out our sequences. The idea behind sequences is that each puzzle leads to another and brings the player to a piece of information that will ultimately help them unlock another puzzle. Ultimately this maze of puzzles will help them find the key to escape. In professional escape rooms there may be up to 5 or 6 sequences, but since we were doing a considerably smaller scale escape room and had less materials we ended up only doing three.
My favorite part of this project besides doing the initial escape room at Esc4pe was coming up with the sequences. We had a bunch of really great puzzle ideas, but no way to connect them and reach an end goal. Over the course of the week we focused mostly on how we could achieve this as well as actually putting it together. We had a few people come in and try out our rough draft, and the way they approached the room was totally different from the way we had expected it to be approached. Taking their experience into account, we were able to identify what needed to be done. This entire experience got me thinking about how the human mind works. Working with the escape room definitely helped me realize that it is impossible for everyone to think of problems in exactly the same way.