Escape from the Library!
On November 3rd, 2017, South San Francisco Public Library hosted their first Escape Room. Three groups of ten players took the challenge to see if they can escape our science-themed room dubbed “S.T.E.A.M.- Scientists Trapped! Escape and Make!” Players had to use teamwork, communication skills, and their general knowledge to work together to solve puzzles, riddles and clues. Game Masters, staff that oversaw the game, guided players along the way. Library staff acted as the Game Masters and included Library Assistants Steven Wong,, Brian Malibiran, Jovi Bondoc and Librarian Melisa Mendoza with puzzle help from Library Assistant Reuben Margolis. After an intensive two months of planning and a successful trial run, the escape room turned out to be as successful as we have hoped.
Our first team started at 12:00 and consisted of 7 players- including some City Staff who came for a team building outing, as they attempted to navigate their way out of five rooms. They had to split up into two separate teams. The City Staff took on the rooms created by Steven and Jovi, while other members took on the rooms created by Brian and Reuben. After some tough challenges and quick thinking, the two teams came back together to take on the final room, the Auditorium, created by Melisa. A lengthy battle of wits took place, but ultimately our team escaped after 72 long minutes. Though the time limit is 60 minutes, our team saw first hand how crafty the puzzles were!
Our second team, the 2:00 group, had some very familiar faces! Some of the library staff came out to test their skills. To take on the five rooms, we saw a similar split. After 31 grueling minutes, one half of the team completed Steven’s side and headed off to tackle Jovi’s room. After about 7 minutes, they reunited with the second team to see if they could conquer Melisa’s Auditorium puzzle. It was challenging, but eventually their cooperation prevailed and they escaped in 70 minutes. They became the new record holder. However, the completion rate still lingered at 0%, as no team was able to escape in the allotted 60 minutes. Will our next team rise up to the challenge?
When 4:00 hit, our third and final team arrived to see if they could best the game master’s puzzles. When the teams were split and the game started, both groups finished the first two rooms almost simultaneously, finishing in a record time of 15 minutes. Another 15 minutes later and the two teams saw each other take on the Auditorium with 30 minutes left. Some fast thinking, strong determination and skill took them to their final safe with three minutes left. Now, only one thing stood in their way, one final puzzle stood between them and victory. Some great teamwork allowed them to complete the final puzzle, a tricky directional lock puzzle, and they became the first team to narrowly escape, leaving 54 seconds left on the clock.
After each team completed their sessions, a survey was handed out. The results were that the audience found the puzzles to be mostly liked and strongly liked. About a handful disliked the puzzles or had no feelings about them. However, no one said they were not willing to do another escape room at South San Francisco Library (though one person filled in their own “maybe” category.) Overall, a job well done and a great success! These surveys were a great help because we now know how to better change our puzzles.