Creation Guide


Table of Contents

Part 1: Storytelling in escape room for an effective pedagogy
Part 2: How to create an escape room for steam education
Part 3: Resources to find content
Part 4: Practical advice
Part 5: Disorder or disabilities
Part 6: Positive role models for girls
The Escape Room game can be used as a methodology for learning. To do this, the designer has to imagine a Room that will be used in an educational context, with one or more pedagogical objectives. He also needs to know his target group in order to design suitable puzzle sequences. The pupils will have to act cooperatively to solve the puzzles and achieve the final objective. Even if it is an educational room, the pupils participate in an immersive game. They are immersed in a universe. The ER is a puzzle game that requires associating, combining, decoding and manipulating clues to solve puzzles. The objectives within may be disciplinary, providing ways for the application of a given concept, or transversal, through the implementation of basic computer skills. Whatever the learning objective of the escape game may be, and all the more so in its creation, it becomes possible to bring together a group of pupils, to determine roles with the aim of a greater project, or even to assemble groups into project teaching.

1. Resources for creating content

In this third chapter, we will share several tools to accompany the creation process. These tools are related to several components of the room: the scenario, the teaser, the puzzles and the final objective.

1.1. Scenario

A scenario is the outline of the plot of the game. It sets the framework for the participants’ involvement: or in this case, the pupils. In fact, the scenario must be motivating and intriguing enough in order to immerse them in the story. The participants should not put together the entire scenario from only the beginning, for it will become clearer once the various puzzles get solved. Needless to say, the narrative of the script is essential. Once the game is over, the players may not necessarily recall all of the puzzles, but the story should remain clear. The scenario thus consists of three elements: the story that is told, the journey through the game, and the final reward that concludes the game.
You must determine the beginning and end of the scenario, it will make it easier to construct the rest, i.e., the personality traits of the characters, the atmosphere, and other details of the story. The starting point of the scenario is composed of the context, the types of characters that are included in the game, the triggers of the situation. For what reason(s) are the participants stuck with a time limit? Imagination can provide new possibilities for acting out the game, such as making use of the limits of the area where the game takes place, or even prompting notions that you would like your pupils to revise, drawing inspiration from an existing fact or using a randomly chosen image or word to encourage curiosity. The end point of the whole scenario should answer the following questions: what is the objective of the players and what would happen if they fail?
To facilitate the creation of a scenario, you can make a visual representation of it in the form of a flow chart. Solutions have been put online to automate and customize the creation of an interactive scenario. Here are some examples:

Celestory is a tool for the online creation of playful learning and training applications. According to Pierre Lacombe, co-creator of Celestory, “the user, whether creative, trainer, teacher or HRD, fills in a tree structure according to logical links. Once the interactive scenario has been personalized, the choice of format is given: chatbot, video, formal game, or with voice assistants.” The principle is simple, bubbles are connected to other bubbles with logical connectors. Various paths are created, which will lead to different sections of the story. It is also possible to create variables that integrate affinities between characters, or to place video and illustrations throughout the story. There is a free formula for personal use, limited to a single project, exported with a watermark.

Figure 1 — © Celestory’s platform

As they present it on their website, MindMeister is “an online mind mapping tool that allows you to capture, develop and share ideas visually’. Maps are graphical representations of information that translate the relationship between concepts and ideas. MindMeinster allows your imagination to run free by combining video designs, images, external links and PDFs to bring these ideas together in a central workspace. The free (Basic) version of MindMeinster includes up to three mind maps, real-time collaboration with full email support.

StoryboardThat is an online service that makes it easy to create storyboards, or in this case, stories in the form of images. To do this, you can choose from a number of thumbnail board templates: it’s up to you to script and tell your story! You can also add bubbles and write dialogues.

Figure 2 — © MindMeinster’s platform

Once your creation is complete, you can export it in many formats (PDF, GIF, PowerPoint). You can try and use this service free of charge for a fortnight. Afterwards, the number of storyboards created, as well as the templates and options offered will be limited.

Figure 3 — © StoryboardThat’s example

1.2. Teaser

The teaser is the first encounter within the Escape Room game, it appears at the beginning of the game in order to present the scenario. Its forms are varying and include: animation, avatar, oral presentation of the game master, or video. The teaser must clearly present the situation in which the players find themselves and the problem they have to solve, raising a feeling of envy in them. Be careful, the catchphrase must be sufficiently explicit! Otherwise, the participants will not understand the story completely.
To introduce your Escape Room game, you can make a short video with an editing software. Video editing consists of selecting recorded images or videos and putting them together in a coherent or artistic way.

Figure 4 — © L. Guimard—Teaser Escape Game (6e) “Trouver la clé”

Solutions have been put online to create simple and powerful editing. Shotcut is a free software available for Windows, MacOS and Linux. This free software allows you to import media (videos, sounds, images), increase or reduce their duration, mute the sound of a video (useful when you want to synchronize another sound to your video), add filters (colour balance, contrast, fade, calibration) and export. Windows Movie Maker and Adobe Spark are also easy to use.

An animated video can introduce your immersive experience. Animated presentations can provide captivating stories and context for the viewer. The idea here is to use the slide as a means of grouping and organizing text and objects. Powtoon is an online service that you can use to create your mission teasers. After registering on the platform, you can create different types of powtoons from a blank template or customize them according to your content and needs. As with most presentation softwares, the platform uses the drag and drop feature: slides and elements can be moved with the mouse. An editing bar will allow you to assign advanced functions to the elements, such as the order in which certain elements appear and disappear, for example. Once finished, you can upload your presentation video to your computer or directly to YouTube or Vimeo.

Figure 5 — © A. Payet—Escape Game FLE

You can also imagine creating a short video with an avatar that will present the mission. This could be a character from your plot or a character that represents you. Voki is a free website that allows you to create an animated avatar and make it talk. You can choose in which language your avatar will speak. Once it is created, it is possible to send it by email or to post it on a website.

1.3. Puzzles

Once the scenario and the trailer have been created, you have to design the riddles that make up the game and that will mobilize the methods and knowledge to properly achieve the educational objective. The puzzles must be designed with the audience in mind, with a clear objective set, and all within a given time frame. You can imagine different puzzles through coding, manipulation, observation and logic games. An Escape Room game is made up of several puzzles that can be more or less linked together.
To create a puzzle, you need three elements: a material (such as a safe to open, for example), a skill (calculation, word manipulation), and a means (a key, a code).

The Mécanicartes present the different possibilities of these three elements. Their main aim is to enable you to learn how to break down any board game in order to understand how it works and then to reconstruct it by adding new rules. In fact, the Mécanicartes will allow you to create your own game. By associating a card from each category, you will be able to define a large number of combinations and therefore types of puzzles. Mécanicartes are Creatives Commons creations. You can use the materials for free as long as it is for educational purposes.

The Lockee online application allows you to create virtual locks that allow access to content. These locks can be digital, directional, schematic, passwords, etc. and unlock access to text, image, sound, external video, or to a link. To create your account, you only need a valid email address, and once activated, you will be able to create up to thirty locks. After the lock has been created, you can download it as a link, QR-Code or in XLM format to save or share. It is also possible to integrate it into a Genially or a classic web page.

The S’CAPE site offers you a large number of resources for making escape games. The “Bric à brac” section includes many online tools to create your educational puzzles.

Figure 7 — © Scape—Home page of the website

1.4. Final objective

The final objective is the goal to be reached to finish the game. This final puzzle can only be solved with the answers to the previous puzzles. If the goal is to find an object, it can be placed in a closed chest with a combination lock. If the goal is to get out of the room, a key can be hidden. If the goal is to open a secure file, a password must be found. If the aim is to get something from a character, the coded sentence to be pronounced must be found. Whatever the final objective to be achieved, to succeed, you must combine the solutions to the riddles encountered throughout the adventure. In fact, if a puzzle has not been solved, the participants cannot reach the final objective.

Augmented reality (or AR) can be used for the final puzzle. This technology works through a terminal that uses the real world and inserts live virtual objects, animations, text, data, and/or sounds that the user views from the screen. By using augmented reality as part of the development of an ER, you can make any image “digitizable” and thus associate an action with it and make it richer information-wise.

Blippar generates Blipps, i.e. the association between a trigger (which belongs to the real world) and a virtual overlay. By creating a Blipp, you determine which element of the real world (image or object) will trigger the appearance of a virtual element (an image, video or 3D model, for example). The Blippar online platform allows you to create Blipps, while the Blippar application allows you to read them by scanning. You will need to enter a code (one at a time) to see the augmented reality.

The final puzzle can also be a QR code to be coloured in. The QR Code shown is incomplete: the central part is not coloured, but squared with numbers in each box. The results of the previous puzzles give the references of the boxes to be coloured. When the QR code is reconstructed, it must be scanned to access the final objective. Mal-den-code is an online tool to complete the creation of QR codes.

In another example, each puzzle can result in a musical note. At the end of the game, you can use the Lockee site (presented in the Puzzles section) which offers a virtual keyboard. If the notes are played in the order of the lock, it will be unlocked.

The possibilities to reach the final objective of a mission are infinite, just let your creativity flow! 

2. Collaborative creation: involving students

The Escape Room game is played as a team, allowing you to compare opinions, exchange and debate on the methodology to be adapted in the face of a puzzle, seeing that the objective is common.
According to Karin Lundren-Cayrol, “the collaborative approach combines two approaches: that of the learner and that of the group […]. In the collaborative approach, the learners collaborate with the group’s learning and, in return, the group collaborates with the learners’ learning. Two learners who make different mistakes in the same situation can thus, by confronting their points of view, converge towards the right answer” (2001). This collective intelligence is, in fact, dependent on the involvement of each individual and on the activities proposed. Puzzle constructions are of real interest because they evoke groups to ask questions, show initiative and express innovative ideas.
The design of an Escape Room game by the pupils makes it possible to mobilize digital skills, and, most notably, to interpret the notions learned in class in different areas: information searches, document design, use of digital tools to create puzzles (such as QR codes, virtual locks, etc.) all while demonstrating the means of collaboration.


How to create en Escape Room or steam education

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Practical advice