In 2020, when the Escape Racism partners met in Palermo, the global COVID-19 pandemic was in its infancy. Few of us could have imagined the events that would occur over the following year; repeated national lockdowns, the compulsory wearing of facemasks, and the requirement to wash your hands or use hand-gel, all of which have become the new normality. Whilst in lockdown, each national team has continued to work on designing, planning, and creating a series of educational Escape Rooms, albeit on paper alone!
The design process began with a period of ideation, a discussion about the themes of our individual escape rooms and a decision about what they would be. This took place during our meeting in Palermo what seems like a lifetime ago. With our themes determined, the teams proceeded to research them in an attempt to better understand the key issues and problems involved, and identify areas which could, or should, be explored within the escape rooms themselves.
Once each team had researched their subject matter thoroughly, work turned to the concepting phase, bringing all of our individual ideas and thoughts together, using techniques such as brainstorming, to form an overall premise, or story, for our individual escape room games. The next step involved the creation of a game design. This meant working out how the mechanics of the escape rooms would work, the puzzles they would include, how they tied to the theme of the game, and how they all connected to tell the story of the escape room.
With the design in place, the creation of the games content was explored with determinations of the items required to make the room, including both items that could be purchased off the shelf, and those that would require some construction. All of this was mapped out and, in a sense, acted as a mini-playtest, revealing where items were either too costly, would not be appropriate for the game, or simply did not work as well as expected within the context of the game.
The final stage in the creation of our escape rooms is the physical playtesting of them. This will utilise members of the public, so it has obviously had to be put on hold for some time. However, with the vaccines being rolled out worldwide currently seeing a dramatic lowering of infection rates and symptoms, hope is on the horizon for us all. At Coventry University, we are currently looking to run playtests within the next two months, with appropriate COVID-19 measures in place, which should see our escape rooms covering the subject of Modern Slavery being finalised.
Alongside this, work continues with the creation of webpages detailing each of escape rooms upon the Escape Racism website (https://www.escaperacism.infoproject.eu/). Currently, these pages are a work-in-progress, however we aim to have them up and running within the next few months. When they are ready, the website will contain individual pages dedicated to each of the selected topics, the related escape rooms, their contents, and requirements. These educational escape rooms will be free to use, although they will require you to purchase materials for their construction. Whilst we hope that you enjoy them, we also hope that you and those who play the game will gain a better understanding of the prejudices, misconceptions, and experiences encountered by those who are the victims of racism within the modern world.