ISL was challenged to create an unforgettable escape room experience for IT professionals attending Dell EMC World 2017 in Las Vegas. In addition to making it unique and engaging, we we’re tasked with finding a clever way to feature and incorporate Dell EMC’s products and solutions.
Over the course of the event, small teams of business-oriented, like-minded conference attendees had 10 minutes flat to enter the room and decipher a series of challenges, ranging from physical challenges to problem solving games. Unlike most escape rooms, the entire experience was facilitated by a series of custom videos.
Once a challenge was solved, an RFID-enabled token was unlocked, placed on a pedestal, triggering the next video and kicking off the next challenge.
The room was built using a combination of design, hardware and software engineering skills, with multiple cross-platform teams working together!
Each puzzle was carefully concepted, planned out, and ultimately brought to life using a mix of hardware components coded by our software developers to work in sync with users as they transitioned from challenge to challenge. The entire room was automated: once a controller started the game, users could sequentially (attempt to!) complete all challenges. The challenges were also coded to randomize for each iteration, so a user could not complete the room the same way twice.
The Great Xscape is probably one of the most unique challenge rooms in existence because the puzzles are different each time you step foot in the room.
The Lights Out Challenge is a 4’ x 4’ matrix of 64 buttons that light up. Players solved puzzles on this board by pressing the correct sequence of buttons. The correct solution to the puzzle was different for each group that played. We used an ethernet connected Arduino to drive this challenge. Once the challenge was complete, the game notified the controller (see below) that it was finished and the controller notified the Trophy Case station to unlock a trophy.
The next challenge was a series of patchbays for ethernet cables. The challenge was to put six ethernet cables in the exact ports. Like Lights Out, the correct solution for this challenge was different for each group that played the game. This was also driven by an ethernet connected Arduino that notified the controller when it was complete so the controller could notify another trophy case to unlock.
The final challenge, Scale Out, involved players putting boxes (that represented servers) into the correct slots (that represented server racks). The correct solution for this was also different for each run. Scale Out used RFID to make sure the correct server was placed in the correct slot. We used a Raspberry Pi and six RFID readers for this.
The most engaging way to incorporate product information in the experience was through short videos. Enter our frantic lab technician who set up the scenario – too much traffic and the need to scale out…FAST! Each completed challenge triggered another short video that explained what the user had done (using Dell EMC products) and set up the next challenge. The increasing level of urgency in her voice and appearance helped press users to complete the challenges faster and faster.
The range of creative thinking that went into this project was astounding. Narrative story-telling, user-experience design, puzzle development, physical fabrication, hardware + software engineering—all working together to produce an immersive interactive experience.
Over 350 users experienced the room over the course of the conference. Few succeeded in completing all of the challenges in under 10 minutes, but all had a blast!
At EMC World Las Vegas, Dell provided an unforgettable, interactive experience that put their attendees’ problem solving skills to the test: an escape room. Teams competed for the fastest times utilizing the physical space around them to complete the challenges set forth, following a pre-determined story line that featured specific products & features. Look for The Great Xscape to show up again at VMworld 2017!.