By Hannah Paragon

After the success of last year’s games, Student Life and First-Year Experience brought the challenge of escape games back to EKU students on Nov. 11.

The Big E Breakout allowed students to challenge critical thinking skills through the use of various puzzles. The games started at 6 p.m. in the Wallace Building.

“The purpose of bringing escape games to campus is to get students out and talking to one another, while also challenging them,”  said Rebecca Blackwell, activities coordinator for Student Life. “Student Life got a really positive response from the games last year, so we decided to do it again.”

This years Big E Breakout nearly tripled in attendance when compared to last year, said Jessi Harris, Student Programmer for Student Life. Escape rooms are a physical strategy game in which players solve puzzles in order to achieve the goal at hand. Each room is designed differently, but all must be designed in a way that balances the difficulty of each puzzle, has a unique narrative, and can be easily reset.

83% of surveyed facilities across the country reported designing their own rooms, according to a study called “The State of Escape” by Scott Nicholson, professor of game design and development at Wilfrid Laurier University. These rooms can involve anything from breaking out of jail, to escaping a kidnapper.

The Big E Breakout featured four different escape rooms: Patient 01, Patient 02, Boom, and Wizardry. It was up to each group to decide which motif best fit them. First time attendee Kierra Tilley said choosing which room best fits the group is a part of the fun. Choosing a room depends on several factors, including how large a group is, how much time one has, and how challenging one wants the room to be.

These games are not to be played alone, as teams need at least two people. Students had the option of coming with a group of friends or being placed in a group of strangers at random.

As students arrived at the event, they were asked to check in and then proceed to the waiting area. When the time came, each group was escorted upstairs to the game. Each group was met by a “game master” in the escape room who was in charge of making sure everyone knew the plot line and that the overall game ran smoothly.

Patient 01 and 02 were both post apocalyptic, zombie themed rooms. Boom was centered around a ticking time bomb, and Wizardry was loosely themed around “Harry Potter.”

Patient 01, Patient 02, and Boom were all given 1 hour to be completed, while Wizardry was given 30 minutes.

“I chose the Patient 01 Escape Room because it seemed the most nerve-racking,” Paige McAllister, freshman biomedical sciences major said. “I like scary movies and sci-fi TV shows, so this one sounded like the most fun to me. It was also a little bit of an adrenaline rush because of the time limit.”

The Big E Breakout Games were open and free to all students.