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Thursday, February 26, 2015

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LAES escape room project: A gamer’s dream Lindsy Mobley @lindsy_mobley

To all the gamers and adventurists out there who have dreamed of jumping into the screen and solving the murder mystery, saving the city or cracking the puzzle in an “Indiana Jones” movie — your time has come. And it’s all thanks to something called an escape room. Escape rooms immerse participants in a time pressure story that combines theatrics with gaming. But instead of virtual immersion, participants are physically locked in a room where they must solve the puzzles and find their way out. The liberal arts and engineering studies (LAES) department at Cal Poly is currently working on an escape room for campus. Escape rooms began popping up about two years ago, mostly

PARTY continued from pg 1. Panhellenic sororities’ national bylaws forbid alcohol on sorority premises. Opponents to these restrictions have argued sorority parties would provide a safer environment for women and work toward solving the problem of sexual violence in greek organizations. The Department of Justice financed a study in 2007 which found women who frequented fraternity parties were significantly more susceptible to sexual assault than other women. Additionally, studies by the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators and the Journal of Interpersonal Violence have found men in fraternities are more likely to commit rape than men not involved in greek life. Cal Poly has witnessed this trend firsthand on campus, with frater-

in parts of Asia and Eastern Europe. They have now spread to the United States in big cities such as New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles, LAES co-director David Gillette said. It’s theatrical in that the room is based around a type of story that would be found in a game or adventure movie. It’s a game because the goal is to get out of the room. The only way to get out is by solving the puzzles and clues embedded in the story of the room. There’s no script, no actors, just the participants and the puzzles, Gillette said. “So the idea is, you’re put in a room for a certain period of time, you have a number of puzzles that you have to solve, and if you solve the puzzles successfully you get out of the room. If you are unsuccessful, you either lose the game or something

tragic happens to the characters that you’re dealing with,” Gillette said. The content of the escape room’s story is kept under wraps due to the fact that it would ruin the game for future participants. Students in LAES 301 and 302 (the introductory project-based LAES courses) are designing and building the rooms. They have been working on it for about six weeks now, Gillette said. “Our vision for the escape room is to develop something that hasn’t really been done before. And we wanted to do something that’s international,” LAES junior Kevin Gong said. The group created space in its story to collaborate with the Queensland University of Technology in Australia. This means this Australian university will also be creating an escape room to coexist with the one on Cal

Poly’s campus, and participants would have international interactions during the game. According to Gong, they have created a very elaborate backstory that is designed to incorporate the two rooms so they actually connect. They are trying to establish visual footage between the two rooms via gopros. So the clues will overlap between the Cal Poly escape room and the Australian escape room. “Either they succeed together or they fail together. So you actually have to work together with the (international) students,” Gong said. Winter quarter is designated to figuring out story development, props, space usage, organizational logistics and testing, Gillette said. “The whole point of the escape room is the immersive experience, and if they don’t buy into

the story, then everything is lost — it’s just a room of clues and puzzles. The story is really what builds layers that put people in the room. So we’ve been working very hard to build the story,” Gong said. This week and next week, they are running tests to see how the puzzles work and what needs to be changed. “We really have to build it kind of like software. We have to test it with people and refine it to see how it goes before we really release it,” Gillette said. “And then the spring is when we’re planning on running it as an actual theatrical gaming experience that people can sign up for and come and experience.” The game will run for about an hour with eight or nine participants. The design team hopes to have the escape room ready by May or June for the San Luis

Obispo community to participate in, Gillette said. “We’re definitely building a world. We’re putting stuff in to make it an authentic part of the story instead of just being a room with clues in it,” English senior Emma Jaffe said. Jaffe said she enjoys the Learn By Doing aspect of the project because she doesn’t get that a lot as an English major, a sentiment shared by others students, including Gong. “I just think the program is awesome, and it has given me the opportunity to do things like this that most classes like studying dynamics or studying statistics — it doesn’t allow for this kind of creativity,” Gong said. Whether as a creator or participant of the escape rooms, people now have the opportunity to step out of their everyday lives and play pretend in another “world.”

nities Pi Kappa Alpha and Alpha Gamma Rho both facing probation for allegations related to sexual violence. English senior and Safer student assistant Bailey Hamblin said sorority parties would make it easier for women to look out for each other’s safety. “Bystander intervention isn’t as present at fraternity parties as it would be at sorority parties if they were allowed to have them,” she said. Hamblin attributed this to the imbalanced atmosphere at fraternity parties. The men at these parties tend to be members of the hosting fraternity, she said, whereas the women aren’t necessarily connected to each other. “I think at fraternity parties, when you get a group of men together who have privilege so

they’re not used to asking for things, they’re bonded together by brotherhood and by the image of the fraternity so they’re not going to want to call each other out,” Hamblin said. “That potentially is a dangerous recipe, whereas if sororities had parties, it wouldn’t be those same elements mixing together.” Interfraternity Council president Alex Horncliff said fraternity brothers’ bonds don’t create a “dangerous recipe” at parties — in fact, they play the opposite role. “You have a group of men who are all in a fraternity and know each other and they can all hold each other accountable,” Horncliff said. Horncliff, a kinesiology and communications senior, also defended the male-to-female ratio fraternities usually enforce at their parties. He said the rule

is not intended to promote a hookup-friendly environment but rather to protect against potentially disruptive outsiders. “It’s more of a liability to let in people you may not know,” Horncliff said. “It’s not for the sake of creating a competitive atmosphere of entitlement, but moreso that people you know aren’t going to cause a problem.” National Panhellenic Conference (NPC) public relations representative Michelle Bower provided a written statement explaining Panhellenic sororities’ alcohol restrictions. In order to reverse these rules, NPC member sororities would have to change their national bylaws. The statement said alcohol prohibition is in the interest of the sorority women’s safety. “NPC member sororities’ chapter houses are private residence facilities that have made the deci-

sion to not allow alcohol on the premises,” the statement said. “Many of the chapter houses are rarely set up to provide a means of holding large functions such as co-sponsored alcohol-related events. NPC has found it is safer for our members and the overall facility, especially since many of the housed members are under the age of 21.” The statement also cited insurance premiums as a reason for the restrictions. “The insurance companies of sororities have priced their premium insurance levels with the confidence that alcohol is not being served within a chapter house for public or private consumption,” the statement said. Panhellenic President and business administration junior Kristen Henry said tradition also plays a role in alcohol restrictions. “You can imagine when (sorori-

ties) were established back in the Victorian era, it was self-explanatory how those rules would have been established,” Henry said. “Since then, the houses — which have primarily underaged women living in them — they’re just something that haven’t been changed.” Henry went on to argue that sexual violence is not location-based. “It doesn’t solely happen at fraternity parties or at greek events,” she said. “It happens everywhere. I don’t think changing the location would have a dramatic impact.” Henry said it shouldn’t be women’s responsibility to prevent sexual violence. “Of course, we want to contribute and make sure everyone is having a safe good time at all the events they choose to attend on the weekends,” she said. “But it’s not something I feel we should have to provide to the community.”

February 26, 2015  
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