In Little Rock, a unique escape room set in the 1950s Deep South of the United States, where Jim Crow laws run rampant, invites ordinary people to cast their ballot despite facing obstacles. It is intended to provide immersive civic education for participants.
Problems and Purpose
Younger generations have been increasingly less likely to head out to the polls during election seasons and exercise their fundamental right to cast a ballot. A group of public servants in Little Rock, Arkansas, are working to change that through an unlikely combination of education, social justice, and a stimulating escape room.
Background History and Context
City of Little Rock coworkers Ericka Benedicto and Juanenna Williams started Underground Escape together after identifying a need in their community.
Organizing, Supporting, and Funding Entities
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Participant Recruitment and Selection
The participant recruitment process most likely consists of a combination of targeted recruitment and self-selected recruitment. Students from local schools are a targeted population for this activity while it is also open to members of the community who read about it online or hear about it from others and decide to sign themselves up for the experience.
Methods and Tools Used
The "Give Us the Ballot" room is an escape room. An escape room is a type of game in which participants enter a space, and are asked “to solve a series of puzzles” in order to exit the space . Before the escape room had its own permanent space, it was able to be transported to different locations, such as different schools around the Little Rock area. They recently got their own brick and mortar location that is able to be in a more neutral environment, away from institutions that could be seen as pushing an agenda, and thus would be considered a pop-up method.  The "Give Us the Ballot" room is also considered a “serious game,” defined as a game that engages people on current societal issues that foster a more just society. The room is run as an hour-long experience followed by a 15-minute discussion lead by a facilitator who guides participants on a reflection of their experience and connects it to a broader learning.
What Went On: Process, Interaction, and Participation
Participants have to make decisions as they go through the escape room and are debriefed afterward to have they reflect on their experience.
Influence, Outcomes, and Effects
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Analysis and Lessons Learned
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 Friedrich, C., Teaford, H., Taubenhiem, A., Boland, P., & Sick, B. (2018). Escaping the professional silo: An escape room implemented in an interprofessional education curriculum. Journal of Interprofessional Care. Advance online publication. doi:10.1080/13561820.2018.1538941. P. 1
 Benedicto & Williams, personal communication, 2018
 Lerner, J. (2014). Making democracy fun: How game design can empower citizens and transform politics. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. P. 35
Underground Escape. (n.d.) Retrieved October 18, 2018 from the Underground Escape website: http://undergroundescape.org/
Underground Escape. (n.d.) Retrieved October 18, 2018 from the Underground Escape Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/undergroundescapeLR/
The first version of this case entry was written by Samantha Sheffield, a Master of Public Service candidate at the University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service, and then edited. The views expressed in the entry are those of the authors, editors, or cited sources, and are not necessarily those of the University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service.