Girl Got Hacked

About the game

Girl Got Hacked is a real-life escape room designed and built during the Game Design & Technology minor. The project was a collaborative effort with other students of the Game Design & Technology (GD&T) minor, as well as some Cyber Security minor students (as project supervisors) and some students of the Fontys Academy for Creative Industries (story and photography).

The escape room is playable for up to eight players at a time. Before the game begins, players are presented with an intro video to explain the setting. Players are inducted into the "Cyber Security Corporation" (CSC), a company that specializes in investigating cybercrimes ordinary law enforcement agencies were unable to resolve. A girl named Jessica is under attack by an unknown hacker, who has released her private information into the public. The CSC was able to trace the hacker's position, but the hacker left behind a trap that shuts down all the power after 20 minutes. The players are called upon to split up into two teams. One team will enter Jessica's room, the other team will enter the hacker's room. Together they must find clues pertaining to the hacker's identity. This is done by solving various puzzles hidden throughout the rooms before the 20 minutes expire.

My work on the project

All computer and mobile-related applications were built in Unity. We built a fake operating system (just a full-screen Unity application) and disabled some keyboard shortcuts to prevent users from returning to the real operating system. The reason we built a fake operating system was to ensure users could not (accidentally or purposefully) sabotage the computers. We also wanted to have some effects that would be much harder to create in a real operating system, such as a virus that deletes all the user's files. My activities in this project mainly included programming some of the computer and mobile (Android) interfaces, such as a fake e-mail application, a flashlight app and a keypad (running on an Android device) used to unlock the doors.

The project

Halfway through the project's runtime we built a first version for the open house at Fontys in Eindhoven. It was built using trusses and plastic sheets. The reception was very positive, but we did notice some flaws that brought us back to the drawing board. For instance, our first version was a lot more linear, there was no need for players to split up into teams (players would find a secret entrance leading into the hacker's room). As a result, there would usually be one or two users actually solving the puzzles, while the other players would only be spectators. Players were also unable to solve the escape room within the desired 20 minute timeslot (instead averaging around 30 minutes).

During the second half of the project, we decided to make both the hacker's room and Jessica's room available from the start. This ensured there would be more active players, but it also increased the maximum amount of players. We also redesigned some of our puzzles, because we found that players were unable to grasp the meaning behind some of the puzzles or simply could not complete it in time. The director of Fontys ICT was very pleased with how our project was turning out, and decided to give us the funds we needed to buy furniture, our own trusses, canvas and materials to build the second version.

After the project

The second version of our escape room was once again playable during a Fontys open house. Once again we were met with very positive feedback from our players (and teachers), which brought our project to a very satisfying conclusion (we even won the prestigious GD&T Golden Marker of Honor award!). The escape room was used during the First Tech Challenge event at the Evoluon building in Eindhoven.

ICTalent Awards 2016

Shortly after completing our first version of the escape room, we joined the ICTalent Awards. We pitched our escape room as a useful tool in education and training, that allows students to put their teamwork and communication skills into practice in a playful environment. We passed the first round without much difficulty and made it into the finals.
During the finals two team mates performed a 2 minute pitch to the audience and judges. To assist with the pitch, I made a little Unity Android app that plays a ringtone sound and displays a big number. This was part of an act we put together for the pitch, in which one of the pitchers was shackled to a table with a combination lock. By pressing a big red button several phones in the audience would be "hacked" to show the lock's combination. Though it was just an act, it was convincing enough to put us in the final round with two other contestants. After a 5 minute Q&A session per group, the judges deliberated on the winner. I'm proud to say that our escape room project was chosen as the winner of the ICTalent Awards 2016.