Instructional Technology Librarian Christine Iannicelli is the genius behind the “escape rooms” that take over Myrin’s library lounge from time to time, with themes such as Escape the Librarian, “Stranger Things,” and “Harry Potter.” This time around, for the escape rooms on Oct.1 and Oct. 2, the theme is “Jurassic Park.” Iannicelli’s escape rooms are open to all faculty, staff, and students. Up to six participants can play at a time.
Escape rooms have become increasingly popular in larger cities within the last few years. Philadelphia is littered with escape room centers. There are even escape rooms in Trappe and King of Prussia. Every escape room is different; no matter where people go, they will never get the same experience twice.
In escape rooms, teams are locked in a room and must work against the clock to solve puzzles and unlock codes in order to find a way out before one hour is up. Iannicelli’s “Jurassic Park” escape room allows teams of six to solve puzzles and follow clues in order to win. The description on the Ursinus website states, “You need to reboot the power grid and turn the security system back on before the dinosaurs break into the control room and eat everyone!”
Iannicelli credits feedback from participants for the new dinosaur theme. “I welcome ideas for escape room themes from faculty, staff, and students and this was a student suggestion,” Iannicelli explains. “‘Jurassic Park’ is also one of my favorite movies. The escape room slots filled up overnight so it appears to be a good choice!”
Escape rooms are a great way to bring people together for an hour of fun, even if the participants do not all know each other. So while Iannicelli likes to focus on the educational aspect of escape rooms when designing them, there is still great attention put on making the experience enjoyable for all who take part. “Escape rooms help students problem solve, think critically, communicate, and collaborate with each other,” Iannicelli said. “I design escape rooms in my spare time for friends to play, so I decided to try hosting them in the library last year.”
“I thought it would be a fun stress reliever for students during midterm and final time,” Iannicelli further explained. “Since last Fall, I’ve hosted [five] different escape rooms on campus and they’ve been well-received. I have no plans on stopping as I really enjoy doing them!”
Making an escape room engaging and challenging like Iannicelli’s creations involves a ton of hard work and intricate design. “I generally design the escape rooms myself,” Iannicelli explained, “although the ‘Harry Potter’ escape room last Spring was a true collaboration between myself, Dr. Kara McShane, and my student worker Tiffini Eckenrod. I ask my fellow library and IT staff to test out the escape rooms and give me feedback before they go live.”
Senior Eckenrod found collaborating on the ‘Harry Potter’ escape room to be immersive. “Working on the ‘Harry Potter’ escape room was a fun, collaborative experience. I had to exhaust all of my knowledge about ‘Harry Potter’ to help come up with fitting puzzles,” Eckenrod said. “My favorite part of the whole experience was seeing the completed room filled with the various props and puzzles. It felt like an actual scene from a ‘Harry Potter’ book.”
Iannicelli is always open to hearing from participants via email. “I welcome feedback and suggestions for future escape rooms,” Iannicelli said. “Also, keep an eye out for a December escape room with a ‘Star Wars’ theme!”