Find Marcel...

An escape game at the Sciences Po Library

In collaboration with the Center for Digital Experimentation, library teams have been working on a “serious game” project (or interactive video) with the aim of promoting student autonomy when using the library.
The pedagogical value lies in creating, through playing the game, a virtual library experience. The most suitable format was that of an escape game, in which one uses available resources to solve riddles and escape from a confined space. Learning while gaming serves to minimize the sense that one is working and thus facilitates memorization.


The experience begins with a standard library visit during which one learns how to activate one’s card for printing, locates automated stations for checking out library material, and accesses the lower-level stacks.
Then, suddenly, the game begins with an AFP news bulletin announcing that Marcel, the Sciences Po cat, is in possession of a dangerous device that must be deactivated as soon as possible.

Students have 30 minutes, while confined to the 5th floor of the library at 27 Rue St Guillaume, to solve riddles with the help of clues hidden in books, boxes, internet messages, and videos (using invisible ink, labyrinths, combination locks, etc.).

The game thus runs through five pedagogical objectives (finding a book, requesting a book, borrowing, getting help, photocopying), without explicitly doing so. Meanwhile, the player locates the device stolen by Marcel and saves the world!

Escape game 2017

At the beginning of the 2017 academic year, 40 groups (23 in English, 17 in French) of 20 students each (divided into 4 teams to facilitate play) participated in this experience over a 5-day period.

This in situ game will be organized every September during orientation, since it provides an excellent way for students to become acquainted with the information professionals that will be assisting them throughout their academic careers. An analysis of the skills acquired by participants will be undertaken by Charlotte Tempier as part of the SAPIENS-CRI game evaluation protocol project, in conjunction with other university libraries.

The next step – which gets back to the original idea – is to transform this game, with the help of CRI and the Center for Digital Experimentation, into an interactive video for the start of the 2018 academic year, by adding informational elements.
This will thus make widely available a tool for promoting greater student autonomy, which can be used at any time throughout the year, in the library or at home.

This escape game was presented as part of the first edition of the conference Serious Escape Game 2017 on December 7 in Valenciennes.

Project partners

  • Charlotte Tempier (Sciences Po Office of Academic Affairs – Center for Digital Experimentation)
  • Morgane Maridet et Elise Herlicq (SAPIENS)
  • Vincent Roger (Center for Interdisciplinary Research – Gamelab)
  • Groupe FUTé (Scientific Information and Resources Department - User Services – Teaching support) coordinated by Anna Callejón Mateu
  • Myriam Gorsse et Gilles Morinière (Training Unit, UPMC Library), creators of the games mentioned above, also served as consultants


For more information about this project:

Word cloud for student comments (© Cécile Touitou)

Updated on 19/01/2018

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