MU debuts new escape room

Jessie Shirley, Practicum Contributor

Students place their phones in a locked briefcase, enter a small room decorated with surplus office furniture and take their seats around a table near a large red countdown timer. The door shuts and the attempt to escape begins.  

MU Escape opened to students last Thursday, challenging its first four groups of players. This 60 minute physical adventure game of puzzles and problem-solving was inspired by the popular online ‘escape-the-room’-style video games and their real-world adaptations.

In MU Escape, students must work together in teams of six to eight to gather the evidence against Puddles the Duck, find the key and escape to help detective Benny the Beaver bring Puddles to justice.

From conception to creation, the room was a group effort. Designed by OSU students and MU employees Jared Henningsen, Sean Konnovsky and Nate Cottle, MU Escape has a simple core concept that was key to the process.

“We thought of a bunch of puzzles and strung them all together,” Konnovsky said.

To make sure the room was escapable, the designers enlisted some help.

“We did testing with groups that are employed with the MU…guest services, retail food services and building services,” Cottle said.

“Building services were really a really big instrument with this,” Henningsen said regarding testing the room. “They helped make some of the puzzles in here.”

With a budget of $400, the three worked together to create an experience that was not only immersive and challenging, but that would bring students together in a new way.

“We wanted more traffic through the building…to get back to our roots and engage students with a different kind of programming,” Henningsen said.

All three agreed that communication is the key to success when attempting to solve the puzzles in time, something that can be difficult to achieve among both friends and strangers.

“It was way more fun than I thought it would be. It was really stressful but in a good way,” Freshman Emily Tunon said after she emerged from the room. “Working with other people wasn’t hard… you get used to it.”

According to Tunon, she was encouraged to sign up by two of her friends, who then participated in the game with her. Students can sign up for the event either as individuals or as group, allowing for a more dynamic experience. Only one of the first week’s groups was able to escape successfully.

MU Escape runs three times a day Mondays through Fridays, and is set to run the remainder of the term. Students can either sign-up individually or as a group. To view available times or to book your escape visit the MU Escape website here.

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