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Using the Escape Room Format for Information Literacy -- A Hands On Workshop Presented at The Collective, Spring 2019

Game Design & Implementation

Escape Room Workflows

Regardless of the format chosen, both the Georgia Southern and FSU teams followed the same general processes listed below.

  • Design
    • Select a Frame
    • Create Learning Objectives & Assessment Materials
    • Craft a Narrative
    • Determine Format
    • Design Clues & Select Materials
    • Pilot the Game
    • Adjust 
  • Implementation
    • Schedule Runs
    • Stage Game Space
    • Run Games & Reset
  • Assess
    • Deliver Assessment
    • Compile & Analyze Data
    • Share Results

A Strategic Comparison

Decide Your Format!

Your convenors have taken two different and distinct approaches to their Escape Game Plans. This page will highlight both of these approaches enabling you to weigh the Pros and Cons of each method and make a strategic decision on the format best for your own Escape Game. You may even decide to give both approaches a go, depending on your chosen ACRL frame and the learning objective/s of your intended game. 

Georgia Southern University

The Organic (Improvisational)  Approach  Round Image with classic Theater Masks (comedy and tragedy) joined together by a lightbulb image

This format provides minimal scripting and instructions to the participants. A story sets the scene, tone, and context to the game. The box(es), lock(s), and clues are all in the space, and participants work through them as they come to them. Using the organic approach means that clues will be discovered and solved in random order. The only way to make sure one clue is solved before another is to layer your lock(s) and/or box(es). For example, in one game we had a keyed lock on the smaller box. Once the key is found, the contents of the smaller box will be revealed and available to use. We placed the black light and the thumb drive inside the smaller box. Participants may have been able to work through one or two of the locks on the lock hasp attached to the larger box, but they needed the black light and the contents of the thumb drive to determine the combinations of the remaining locks. These could not be solved until the key is found and the contents of the smaller box revealed. 

Participants work through this format of game more efficiently if they divide and conquer. In this way, they work separately as well as a team. This format also allows your groups to struggle a bit more. The clues will not be as obvious, and a bit of trial and error will be required to work through them. This is one of the benefits of escape games! They encourage players to re-evaluate "failures" and try again

Hints were used to reinforce the Library Liaison program, and for this reason no penalty is tacked on as a result of using the provided hint cards. In fact, we stopped the clock when the hint cards were presented, therefore adding extra time to the game. Asking Liaisons/Librarians for help, how much time it saved, and how it immediately put them back on track was reinforced during the reflection period after. 

We feel this format works best to illustrate and create conversation around some of the less concrete principles of the Framework. Therefore, the Reflection Questions are vitally important and should not be skipped! It is during this reflection that you (the librarian) connect the dots and create the true A-Ha learning opportunities. 



Florida State University

The Guided (Scripted) Approach

This format involves a more fully-formed narrative script that provides participants with more direction on how to solve clues. Though the script can be modular, this format lends itself to more linear games as clues often build off of one another, guaranteeing that learners are collaborating and constructing knowledge with their peers throughout the entirety of the process. The level of instruction provided in game scripts can easily be adjusted according to desired difficulty level, making this approach suitable for designing games for all manner of learners and instructional purposes.

This format proves especially useful when learning objectives are centered around navigating specific library resources to retrieve and evaluate sources, emphasizing the Searching as Strategic Exploration Framework. 

We found that the guided approach is useful for first-time designers who aren't using a Kit and when "escapability" and learner motivation is a high priority, as scaffolding and motivational design strategies can be incorporated throughout the script.

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All materials prepared for and directly part of this guide are made available under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike (CC-BY-NC-SA) license.