Written by Victoria Lusk
Come fall, Aberdeen will have an escape room.
That’s thanks to a fellowship program and an idea submitted by Matt Klundt, a programmer at Create.
Out of hundreds of applicants, Klundt was one of 20 named a 2018 Emerging City Champion by the 8 80 Cities and the Knight Foundation. As a result, he got a $5,000 grant to implement his escape room idea.
The 8 80 organization is a nonprofit group that believes that if work done in public spaces is great for an 8-year-old and an 80-year-old, it'll be great for everyone. The goal of the Knight Foundation is to foster informed and engaged communities
Escape rooms have become very popular in larger cities, such as Sioux Falls and Fargo, N.D., Klundt said.
“And they are really fun, too,” he said.
Generally speaking, an escape room is either one room or a number of connected rooms in which a team of two to 10 players solve puzzles to get a key to the exit.
Teams have one hour to complete the task. Once they do, an employee will walk the team through the rooms and point out what they did right.
With Create, Klundt already teaches technology classes in its makerspace at least once a month. That’s why Klundt saw the grant as an opportunity.
“The escape room project is pulling together all of these things that we’re already teaching,” he said.
The grant focuses on addressing a need through community involvement, Klundt said. In this case, that’s getting young people — and others — excited about how technology can improve lives and how people can learn it in Aberdeen, he said.
There will be at least one class weekly in which students play the game and then analyze the puzzle. That means taking a deeper look at hardware and how the software helps it function, Klundt said.
A storyline is a big part of an escape room too, he said. Many have themes, such Indiana Jones, in which the rooms and clues are based on archeology, or "1984," in which the government is testing the teams.
The theme for Klundt's escape room has not yet been decided.
“I’m more the mechanics of it,” he said, which is why he’ll have others help him write the story.
The initial plan is to have the room open only for three to four weeks. If there’s demand, it’ll stay open longer. Eventually, it will be closed before reopening or changing the theme.
“We’re going into it expecting a limited run,” Klundt said. The grant will mostly cover construction and electronic costs, he said.
When not being used for classes, the room will be open to the public, with advanced scheduling.
The escape room will either be on the fifth or sixth floor of the Citizens Building.
Klundt will travel to Toronto, Canada, with the other 19 emerging city champions June 15-19. Along with networking, he’ll be learning how to ensure the escape room is a success.
He’ll begin constructing the space when he returns. Ideally, it’ll open in October.