Virtual Escape Room
What do you do when your campuswide scavenger hunt can no longer be held in person? The University of New Haven solved this problem by creating a virtual escape room.
In April 2020, the Connecticut, U.S., institution expected to celebrate its centennial Founders Day with a large, on-campus festival including a scavenger hunt. Instead, like most institutions, the university was forced to shift to an online event.
The alumni relations team had to figure out which components of the day would be possible via Zoom or social media and which would need to be completely reworked. The Charger Pride Committee “spent a long time figuring out all the pieces to make the ‘Chase for Charlie’ scavenger hunt come to life in a virtual world,” says committee member Brittany Stanchak, associate director of alumni relations and events. Stanchak, along with committee members Matt Brancaccio, assistant director of graduate student services, and Maria Tonry, assistant director of intramural sports and member/guest services, created a story about the kidnapping of the university’s horse mascot Charlie that led participants on a journey through the university’s history and involved trivia questions, word scrambles, and brain teasers.
Consisting of 10 puzzles, the escape room used Google Forms to move participants through the story and eventually to find Charlie. There were about 250 participants and the fastest puzzle-solvers from each category (alumni, current students, prospective students, parents, and faculty and staff) received Charger prize packs.
“We received an incredibly positive response from our community,” says Heather Alpaugh, director of alumni relations. “Across the board we’re finding that we’re reaching people beyond the radius of our campus and we don’t want to lose that as we return to ‘normal.’ We can definitely replicate the virtual escape room for other events. I can see it working for class reunions or homecoming. We’ll just need to create a different story.”
About the author(s)
Caitlin Lukacs is the CASE manager of editorial content.