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Mission: Escape the Room :: the Interaction Consortium - a user-centered Django web agency in Sydney, Melbourne, Canberra, Brisbane

Mission: Escape the Room

Writing code may seem like a serene pastime - a lone coder sits in silence, fingers tapping, gently coaxing lines of code onto the screen (in case you’re wondering, yes it is exactly like being in The Matrix), and savouring the quiet satisfaction that comes from discovering an elegant solution.

And sometimes it is relaxing, but we all secretly love the rush that comes from delivering a solution under time pressure: it feels good when we can help our clients out of some tight spots, and each time we've competed in the PyconAU coding challenge, IC devs place in the finalist and winning teams.

But can our team solve puzzles in the physical world, with deadlines measured in minutes? To find out, we took two teams (not just devs, but designers and UXers too) to Mission Sydney and locked them in a series of rooms that can only be escaped by deciphering clues and solving a complex series of puzzles before the time runs out.

Without giving too much away, one team was trapped in the Vampire Castle, and the other was imprisoned in Dr. M’s gruesome lab, and we had to figure out how to escape before we were lost forever (in hindsight, this was perhaps incautious – our clients would not have been amused if the Vampire or Dr. M had gotten their way). You have to search each room for puzzles, clues, hidden devices and compartments and put them all together in an attempt to unlock each door and move to the next room before the time runs out.

We were pleasantly surprised at the inventiveness of some of the puzzles, involving darkness, lights and lasers, fingerprint scanners, chemicals, astronomy, astrology, augmented reality and robots (only some of which we use daily in our work - guess which). Mission Sydney did a good job building contraptions and special effects that added to the atmosphere.

A picture of IC staff after the escape the room puzzle

IC survivors reacted to their traumatic experience in a variety of ways.

So how did we do? We’re pleased to report that we’ll be OK in at least these two nightmare scenarios - not only did we escape in time, but one of our teams was only 7 minutes off the record - go team IC!

We’ll be sure to return soon for more post-apocalyptic survival antics. If you have an idea of a challenge we could turn our hands to, or if you want to join our team of skilled problem-solvers, then you know what to do.