An investigative journalist suspiciously vanished last night, and the last thing they did was hand their laptop over to their trusted librarian. After opening the laptop and seeing the contents, the librarian grew alarmed and called you all in to help. The librarian knew the journalist was doing research on the company that makes Euphorigen, a mood enhancing supplement. Now the government is about to sign a contract to put Euphorigen in the public water supply for everyone to enjoy its benefits. But you have suspicions, and only 45 minutes to uncover the truth!
Thus begins the journey to solve our first online escape room — The Euphorigen Investigation — hosted on our new website, Loki’s Loop.
The Euphorigen Investigation just completed a pilot test in six public libraries in Washington State — King County Public Library, Spokane Public Library, Spokane County Public Library, and Fort Vancouver Regional Libraries. Each library ran three sessions of Euphorigen for teams of 4-6 players in their community, including a post-game discussion to learn about people’s impressions of the game. We recorded the gameplay and debrief sessions, and players completed a post-game survey. We also held a focus group discussion with the librarians to capture their perspectives.
This exploratory research is guided by six questions:
- Does the escape room improve people’s understanding of various misinformation techniques, including: misleading data, computer-generated images, social media bots, and deepfake videos?
- Does the escape room generate reflection on psychological and emotional effects, such as: confirmation bias and third-person effect, and feelings of confusion and remorse?
- Does the escape room change people’s attitudes and potential behaviors towards misinformation?
- What differences can be observed across different communities (geographic, racial/ethnic, income, other)?
- What are the design implications of the gameplay for ongoing misinformation escape room development?
- Does the escape room support the roles of librarians and libraries in providing education on misinformation?
This spring we will be analyzing the data and publishing our results.
Two teams of students are working with us. Our Directed Research Group class has been helping with literature reviews, developing the data collection instruments, and analyzing the data. A capstone group of undergraduate informatics students has been building the escape room.