Escape rooms have become a pop culture phenomenon. An escape room is a game in which a group of people must work collaboratively to solve puzzles and complete objectives to escape from the current site of the adventure (Hall, 2021). Upon entering the puzzle, the game facilitator, or Game Master (GM), reveals the main objective to players; all the group’s subsequent actions contribute to achieving the initial objective, which must conclude within a certain amount of time.

As with most industries, COVID-19 negatively impacted the in-person gaming industry, including in-person escape rooms. In-person gaming events were confronted with the new understanding that the only way to save person-to-person gaming was to adapt to an online environment. It was exceedingly difficult to find a path for successful execution of the transition from in-person to online gaming. Forced to urgently develop a new experience for gamers, game designers discovered the world of virtual escape rooms (The Escape Game, 2021). This solution was an opportunity to sustain business. However, an unknown benefit was the diversification of the backgrounds of the players of the game. Introducing the interactive escape room dynamic to an online environment allowed for diverse populations of people to participate including those of the neurodivergent, mobility-limited, and socially limited populations.

Computer simulations serve as both entertainment in the gaming industry and training in the professional realm. They can serve as team-building exercises in corporate settings. These activities force socialization, under the guise of fun, thematic settings. Their use has spanned multiple industries: including the medical field, which has been using computerized training simulations for years (Guckian, Eveson, & May, 2020). This type of technology also gives differently-abled people the opportunity to experience an escape room. Individuals with limited mobility, social anxiety, neuorodivergency, or anything that would limit their access to a public environment can find entertainment in an online space, creating inclusivity for the cultural phenomenon of escape rooms. Inclusivity is a topic that has begun to receive its due attention lately (McKinsey & Company, 2022). Social values are taking center stage for business owners in addition to their goals for attracting new consumers. Increased inclusivity in escape rooms allow players impeded by the physicality of rooms to enjoy the computerized, interactive technology making its way into not only games but academia and business as well.

This paper aims at understanding if the virtual landscape can foster the same satisfactory gaming experience as one would have in a physical escape room. This paper will study the usability of an online, virtual escape room. The game is designed using criteria needed for neurodivergent individuals to successfully participate. The goal is to keep the same cooperative elements as a physical escape room and see if those elements could translate into an online forum. We will be using the principle of Computer-Supported Cooperative Work, where the computer supports collaboration, and introducing an additional element of working over the computer in “real-time.” That is the link to making sure an online escape room remains as much like a physical escape room as possible.

Literature Review

The first concept of “escaping from an enclosed space” in a gamified setting began in the electronic video game Behind Closed Doors, developed in 1988 (Villordsutch, 2017). In 2004 Japanese video game designer, Toshimitsu Takagi, released Crimson Room, a modern escape-the-room, web-based video game (Adams, 2015). Escape-the-room style video games were gaining popularity in the electronic community. However, it was not until the early 2000s that physical games appeared.

The earliest representation of what we now consider an escape room, appeared at a gaming convention, Gen Con[1], in Indianapolis in 2003 (Sjoberg, 2008). In this game, players travel through a multi-room dungeon, solving puzzles and killing monsters to progress throughout the dungeon. In its infancy the dungeon consisted of three small rooms. Almost 20 years later, the dungeon is now over fifteen rooms and can take about two hours to complete (True Dungeon, 2022).

Four years later, in Kyoto, Japan, the first mainstream escape room emerged (Corkill, 2009). This is the style of escape room to which we are now accustomed. Under the company named SCRAP, creator Takao Kato would fill bars and clubs with decorations, hidden clues, and codes. Players would have 60 minutes to decode the information and escape the game (New Mexico Escape Room, 2022). The model was an enormous success and, upon gaining media attention, prompted other people to create similar models, not only in Japan but in other parts of the world (Marinho, 2012). In 2013, escape games made their way to the United States with the company, Puzzle Break, based in Seattle, Washington (Schlosser, 2018).

Escape rooms require skills such as problem solving, innovative thinking, and teamwork (Hall, 2021). It was only natural for other industries to capitalize on this creative method of team building. Escape rooms made their first appearance in the education industry in 2012 by a Swiss physics professor (Heinrich, 2018). Since then, escape rooms have made their way into numerous education institutions, prompting the need to study them at the academic levels.

The education industry has seen a recent shift from traditional lecture models to experiential learning methods. With that, the perfect landscape for introducing escape rooms now exists. Educators can use escape rooms as an active learning technique. Research shows the use of escape rooms in classrooms allows learners to find rewards in teamwork, creativity, decision-making, leadership, communication, and critical thinking: areas which have traditionally been difficult to foster (Fotaris & Mastoras, 2019). Escape rooms can achieve these ends through hiding clues and presenting puzzles that are related to the classroom lessons (Willis, ). Variations of escape rooms can be used as an in-class exercise or on-line. Student learning is developed through “unambiguous feedback, rewards and increased complexity” (Veldkamp et al., 2020, para. 5). For example, a study by Veldkamp et al. (2021) used a puzzle called “Guess what?”—a variation of the child’s game “Guess who?” As students guessed the correct answers to questions based on the class content, they had to figure out that they needed to cross off the correct answers. The answers that were not crossed off provided information to solve the next puzzle.

When introducing new methods of teaching in learning institutions, marginalized communities, such as neurodivergent students, are less likely to be factored into the planning equation. Lesson plans are configured for neuro-typical students, without consideration for simple modifications that could ease learning for a neurodivergent. Using existing technology to develop games could help solve this problem.

What is a Learning Disability?

It is important to understand that students with learning disabilities are quite common. A learning disability is a disorder that affects a person’s ability to understand or articulate language, do computational mathematics, find coordination, or follow directions (National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, 2021). This definition is specific to the United States; other countries have their own unique view of what constitutes a learning disability (Learning Disabilities Association of America, 2021). It is estimated as of 2019, 65.6 million people or 20% of the population have learning and attention issues (United States Census Bureau, 2021). Neurodiversity, a term coined by an Australian sociologist, Judy Singer, represents the idea that everyone’s brain develops differently (Cleveland Clinic, 2021). From that definition, the term neurodivergent emerged, which is now used to categorize the population of students both diagnosed and undiagnosed with learning disabilities.

In American diagnostic practices, a disorder is not serious enough to warrant an official diagnosis of a “disability” (Wadsworth, 2008). To receive an official diagnosis of being learning disabled, one must go through a series of rigorous evaluations to determine if the difficulty impedes an individual’s ability to learn (Keele, Keek and Huizinga, 1975). If a disability is detected, an official diagnosis of learning disability is given, and the student can receive appropriate academic remediation (Wrightslaw, 2021). The type of academic remediation each student needs will vary based on their areas of deficit (New York State Education Department). For example, if a student is having a difficult time with reading comprehension some portion of their school day can be spent with a small group of similar students receiving remedial instruction outside of their regular classroom (Lovett, Frijters and Steinbach, 2021). All students enrolled in public school are entitled to receive a free and appropriate education (United States Department of Education, 2021). This includes the cost of remedial education services provided by either the school or an outside service provider (if the school is ill-equipped to do so). It is estimated that one in five students has a learning disability, yet only one in 50 received the full extent of academic services they need to learn (National Center for Learning Disabilities, 2021).

Using escape rooms as a tool to help students with disabilities requires that the games be designed well. In a study designed to observe players in an escape room, researchers concluded escape rooms provide players with opportunities to practice communication outside of topics found in a traditional classroom or workplace setting (Pan, Lo, & Neustaedter, 2017). However, their research also concluded that the design can also restrict behaviors such as awareness of others, situations, and workspaces. Escape room designers must be mindful to include aspects that focus specifically on team dynamics and conflict resolution techniques. Unfortunately, the article does not offer a suggestion on how to facilitate that design element. This problem will be addressed in our study.

Research Statement

The usability test used in this study will determine if there is a best practice for designing online escape rooms while using criteria specifically identified to support the neurodivergent population. From the information gathered, the study will also find out if there are puzzles that are better suited for an online experience, as compared to the experience in physical escape rooms. The study will yield information to help rank the puzzles in both “difficulty to solve” and “difficulty to find.” Difficulty to find refers to the ease with which the participants can find the puzzle in the database.

Theoretical Reflection

Perceptual Aspects

Research into the perceptual processes of neurodivergent learners has found there are specific visual criteria that must be considered when designing user interfaces (Forgave, 2010). The following are a list of that criteria:

  1. Concrete-consistent in appearance and output
  2. Easy to access
  3. Easy to understand how to search
  4. Organized
  5. Clear–fonts, typeface, and colors
  6. Accomplish all needs quickly, without need for multiple steps
  7. Aid with future direction
  8. Have accessibility assistance: talk-to-text, screen reader, alt text for images, concrete plain language, simple descriptions for articles

For the digital escape room puzzles to be inclusive towards the neurodivergent population, these visual criteria must be used when designing user interfaces. These principles make it possible for neurodivergent gamers to participate in neurotypical activities by alleviating mental exhaustion due to processing delays.

Organizational Aspects

The nature of this study has inherent social issues. First, the players must work in a group not of their choosing. Player groups are randomized, so players may not be familiar with their partners. Prior relationship conflicts, stress, and ambiguity can all follow in randomized group pairings. Additionally, there is research to support the heightened nature of inter-group conflict for players working virtually (McKenna & Green, 2002). Group dynamics will determine if they can communicate and find the correct puzzle and solve it correctly.

Choosing the correct puzzle relates directly to the study of database schematics in the field of Knowledge Organization (KO). KO is specifically concerned with the “making sense” aspect of information storage. Making sense simply refers to whether it makes sense to group pieces of information together, so that a user can find the desired information in a collectively exhaustive manner. In this study the making sense attribute is studied by measuring the ease at which participants can find the correct puzzles in Google Drive for the corresponding puzzle in the escape room. Although a game designer may want there to be intentional misdirects to veer participants down a rabbit hole, the participant needs to realize at some point that their decision was a mistake, for them to self-correct and get back on track.

For example, in this study there is an information technology-related error (puzzle) the participants must resolve. The puzzle used to solve that error is in the information technology “IT” folder. It would not make sense to organize Google Drive by placing that puzzle in the “Marketing” folder. If the information technology puzzle were to be organized in Marketing folder, the participant would not be able to self-correct. To self-correct the participant must use critical thinking to realize it does not make sense for an information technology puzzle to be organized into a Marketing folder.

If the making sense attribute did not exist, the experience may be too stressful to finish the game. For neurodivergent gamers, the making sense attribute is extremely important and must be woven into the game. For players who make decisions grounded in pragmatism, a trait common to neurodivergents, the absence of concrete relationships is frustrating and can function as a deterrent. In this study the “difficulty to find” criterion measures this attribute.

Although the escape room is a game, not all players experience gameplay in similar ways. A player’s competitive nature exists on a spectrum. Some people are competitive based on the personal stakes, such as reputation, personal connection to the game, or past experiences (Griffiths, Eastin, & Cicchirillo, 2016). Therefore, when placed in a randomized group, players may not understand the nature of their peers’ approaches to the game, unless it was discussed prior to starting. This crucial stage of the game is referred to as Stage 1, or “Forming,” in Bruce Tuckman’s stages of Group Development (Tuckman, 1965). During this initial forming stage, players must take time to align goals and orient themselves with one another. Without completing this step, players are in jeopardy of failing or creating relationship conflict, both long-term and short-term, leading to poor performance. There is an opportunity to briefly complete the forming phase in the beginning of the game. A simple exclamation of “we are going to escape,” is enough to set a common goal.

It is important to reveal here how one of the experimenter’s personal connection to the game could affect the players. One of the authors was the Game Master. Neurodivergent players may feel less able to express their feelings if they are not comfortable with conflict. This could even force them to walk away from an environment that could create too much tension. Organizational issues are quite different for this type of game. Participants know that the Game Master (the narrator of the game) created the game. Therefore, if players collectively cannot solve the puzzles or navigate the organizational system, it could show the game design is flawed. For the group members this could be uniting or dividing. Some players might feel uncomfortable criticizing the game; other players might feel comfortable criticizing the game, and conflict could arise from their differing viewpoints. Players might also become frustrated with one another based on their experiences with escape rooms or working remotely. Remote working experience issues have been a common issue during COVID. Although escape rooms are extremely popular, not everyone has participated in one, and those who have might not have been successful at escaping.

There are a myriad of issues that could arise from both an operational and social perspective. Our goal was to mitigate that by setting a proper tone, explaining that the exercise is a play-test game and that the experience is to catch flaws and improve the experience for future gamers. We also note the importance of having various levels of experience in the group as it can help us gauge the level of difficulty in some of the puzzles. This type of transparency in goal setting and concrete, clear directive are crucial factors for facilitating positive gaming experiences for neurodivergent gamers.

Learning Aspects

In terms of ease of use, this is a game designed for beginners with no gaming experience. That said, there are components that some players may find difficult. Chapter 14 of Carroll’s (2002) textbook on human-computer interaction discusses the gap between social requirements of systems and technical feasibility. To apply that concept to this study means, inherently, some players will struggle with the technology. The technology needed for this study are a computer, internet, an email address, access to email on the computer they are using, access to an internet browser, and audio and video capabilities. Players will also need paper and a writing utensil.

Moving classes to an online space has closed the online learning technological gap significantly. Prior to COVID, this study would be infinitely more challenging to research. In a study conducted by Owl Labs (2020) 70% of Americans worked remotely. All the companies that have remote workers used some form of digital communication software (whether a program or web-based) and a brand of audio and video software (e.g., Zoom, WebEx, or Google Meet). Therefore, most people are familiar with online file sharing systems and video meetings.

All the necessary file sharing and video requirements are accessible through a web-browser. Although there is now a precedent for working online, a learning curve is not eliminated. Specifically, the players in this study will be using Google Drive. Players may have experience with other software, but that does not mean using another interface will be easy and quick. In fact, for neurodivergent individuals, learning may take longer, and they may still need time to figure it out. For the purposes of this experiment, time is not a factor. However, in an outside setting, such as a business, this could cause problems, as there are always time limitations. Traditional escape room businesses have yet to adjust for how time limits affect distinct types of players.

The most difficult component for the players will not be in technology but in listening and communication skills. The players will be following a PowerPoint presentation, which the experimenter will screenshare with them; they cannot go back to previous slides. For example, there are some slides that contain clues that will be helpful in subsequent slides. If the players do not take notes or remember the clues and communicate their findings with their teammates, some of the subsequent puzzles will be challenging.



In terms of the human-computer interaction, the interaction style used for conducting this study is menu-selection. The game is puzzle based but the interaction aspect is based on menu organization. Whether the menus are organized correctly will be determined by the movements of the players. There are some red-herring puzzles incorporated into the game. However, players are still meant to find them, based on the clues. The menu selection concept still applies because it is desirable for the players to go to the red herrings.


Participants in this study are eight students, self-identified as being neurodivergent, in the Information Science doctoral program at a large, north-eastern university. The players span multiple generations, age groups, and learning needs. The players consisted of six males and two females. The students volunteered to participate in this study as part of an exercise in the doctoral program.

Upon game play, the facilitator divided the classmates into two groups at random. The experimenter organized Players in Group 1 and in Group 2. Although three players had experience with escape rooms, none of the players had ever played an online escape room.

Group 1 had four participants, three male and one female. Three of the four players had their cameras on and were unmuted. One player remained muted with their camera off. Two players had played in an escape room before. All players were familiar with the concept of an escape room.

Group 2 had four participants, three male and one female. All four participants had their cameras on and were unmuted. One player lost connectivity early on during the experiment and was not able to rejoin the group. There was one player experienced with escape rooms. All players were familiar with the concept of an escape room.


The most important materials for this study were the puzzles and the answer sheet. The GM needed both to facilitate gameplay. The puzzles were presented on a PowerPoint slide show and in a Google Docs folder. Players needed a pen and paper. The game is most successful if players can easily traverse between screens on their electronic device. This is easier on a computer than on a tablet or phone.


The type of escape room used in this study was a digital, linear game. The participants worked together synchronously online to solve puzzles in a sequential order using digital communication software to escape the room with the help of a facilitator. The game required one facilitator or Gamer Master (GM) to assist players in moving through the game. One of the experimenters was the GM during this research. The GM read a script to the players, which contained clues as to which puzzle solved each portion of the game. The GM shared their screen to show the PowerPoint presentation. The PowerPoint served as a mechanism to create game segments. Each segment had its own puzzle. The players listened to narration from the GM, looked at the visual information on the PowerPoint, and then looked through the folder on Google Drive to figure out the correct puzzle to solve. Once they found what they believed to be the correct puzzle, they solved the puzzle together. Once they solved the puzzle and rendered an answer to the GM, the GM verified whether the puzzle was solved correctly. If they did, they moved on to the next segment. If they did not, the GM told the players they had encountered an “error” and could not move forward. Each puzzle contained a piece of information needed to solve the final puzzle, which determined if they could disconnect from the call.

In this study all participants will see the same slideshow and have access to the same Google Drive. In Google Drive there are five folders, each pertaining to a different subject matter. Puzzles of a similar subject matter are grouped together. In total there are fourteen puzzles, only eight of which must be solved to escape the room. The other puzzles serve as “red herrings” to throw the participants off and create a more dynamic experience.

All participants view Google Drive in the same way. That is the benefit of using Google Drive; the representation of the information can be kept consistent, as needed by the neurodivergent population. This is an important principle for display organization (Smith & Mosier, 1986). The visual representation of the files in Google Drive cannot be modified. The experimenter will narrate the game; it is important to stay excited through vocal intonation and stay consistent in tone and expression. In addition, the experimenter must stay engaged to react quickly to any sign of user discomfort. This is extremely important for neurodivergent players, who may experience anxiety or confusion at participating in a new, unfamiliar game. Also, quick changes in tone or expression could make players anxious.

The primary data collection technique was think-aloud protocols. This study was not taking place in a usability lab and therefore subsequent data outlining participants’ clicking activities or menu selection could not be collected. A secondary data collection method was observation. One of the experimenters took notes during the exercise and watched the recording for subsequent analysis.

The study required Computer-Mediated Communication. Players communicated synchronously over the computer (Carroll, 2002). The players needed access to a web browser to join the Zoom call via weblink and to open a link to a shared folder on Google Drive. In that folder were all the games participants had to solve to “escape.” For this game, the players were trapped in a Zoom call and had to solve the puzzles to disconnect from the call, which served as the escape function.


The results of the study are presented in Tables 1, 2, and 3. Table 1 presents the time it took the participants in Group 1 and Group 2 to complete each of the six puzzles. The average amount of time it took to escape the room was 46.2 minutes. Group 2 escaped the room more quickly that Group 1 (39.0 minutes and 53.3 minutes). Puzzle 1 (Fill in the Blank) and Puzzle 2 (Word Search) took much longer for Group 1 than Group 2. Table 2 presents the number of errors committed by the participants. Group 2 committed more errors than Group 1 in Puzzle 3 (Sequencing) and Puzzle 5 (Picture to Word). The puzzles found to be the most difficult to solve were the Fill In the Blank, Word Search, and Mad Gab puzzles. The puzzles found to be the most difficult to find were the Fill in the Blank, Word Search, and Sequencing puzzles.

Table 1. Time to complete each puzzle (in minutes)

P1: Puzzle 1, Fill in the Blank; P2: Puzzle 2, Word Search; P3: Puzzle 3, Sequencing; P4: Puzzle 4, Cipher; P5: Puzzle 5, Picture to Word; P6: Puzzle 6, Mad Gab

Table 2. Number of errors for each puzzle

Group 13NA300NA
Group 22NA603NA
P1: Puzzle 1, Fill in the Blank; P2: Puzzle 2, Word Search; P3: Puzzle 3, Sequencing; P4: Puzzle 4, Cipher; P5: Puzzle 5, Picture to Word; P6: Puzzle 6, Mad Gab

Table 3. Puzzle rankings by “solving difficulty” and “finding difficulty”

Puzzle Solving Difficulty Ranked: Difficult to Easy Fill in the Blank (missing letters)Word SearchMad Gab – What you hear, not what you saySequencingCipherPicture to Word

Puzzle Finding Difficulty Ranked: Difficult to Easy Fill in the Blank (missing letters)Word SearchSequencingCipherMad Gab         Picture to Word  


In the first group, each participant worked on their own Google doc. The experimenter was not able to see how the participants solved the problems in real time. After the first group completed their game, however, the puzzles were reformatted into a shared Google document. This allowed the experimenter to watch how the participants were solving the puzzles in real time. This proved to be beneficial for the players in Group 2. This was likely a contributing factor as to why Group 2 performed better than Group 1.

Group 1 did not appear to be enthusiastic during the exercise. They did not communicate much, and they solved the puzzles independently. Before the second game, the experimenter built anticipation for the upcoming session. So, when the next game was announced, participants vocalized their desire to be part of the study. That desire aided in their improved performance. Group 2 was visibly more engaged than Group 1.

Data showed that Mad Gab, Fill in the Blank, Sequencing, Cipher, and Picture to Word were all escape rooms puzzles that could translate to a virtual environment. The Word Search puzzle proved to be too difficult for online play. Therefore, we concluded that it is not a suitable puzzle for a virtual escape room.

It was also important for players to have their cameras on and that they stay unmuted the entire game. We concluded that it created a sense of cohesion and promoted more interaction. Players felt like a team of real people, not just black boxes. When the cameras and microphones are on and a common goal has been established, the players are less likely to want to disappoint a real person; however, they may feel comfortable disappointing a black box.

Rating the puzzles in terms of difficulty showed that solvability is more impactful than menu searching. Studies showed that there are specific qualities that must exist within a group to successfully escape. Those qualities include adaptability, confidence, and leadership (The Escape Effect, 2021). Future studies should assess these qualities when testing group performance in escape rooms.


This study aimed at evaluating the usability of virtual escape rooms for neurodivergent gamers. The puzzles were designed with this group in mind. By researching criteria that make learning more accessible for neurodivergent individuals, we were able to create puzzles using that information. It was incredibly easy to do. Although neuorodivergency is difficult to understand, even for neurodivergents themselves, it is not difficult to incorporate best practices that make learning easier, such as using consistent typefaces and colors. In this study there is a learning aspect to gaming as all the tasks were based around problem-solving. Problem-solving is a higher order thinking skill based in language comprehension, which is associated with an entire gamut of difficulties for those with learning disabilities. The study demonstrated that those difficulties can be overcome through a sensitive and thoughtful design of the games.

This study was a success. Although some people do not enjoy this in-class experience, it should be noted that people who sign up for a virtual escape room on their own will be more interested in the game and will be more motivated to participate. Therefore, they will put in some effort to achieve the goal of escaping the room and enjoying the experience. Even though the world is moving back to more in-person events, the results of this study show that neurodivergent people can benefit from this type of online learning and gaming.

Escape rooms are a terrific way to build soft skills necessary for every part of your life, both personal and professional. Skills such as creative thinking, problem-solving, communication, learning to be a team-player, attention to detail, and time management, can all be improved through game play (Green, 2020). If you can make learning fun, why not do so?

[1] Short for Lake “Geneva Convention,” its place of origin.

Works Cited

Adams, G. (2015, June 25). A complete history of escape games: from Budapest to London. Retrieved from Crazy Games:,have%20no%20memory%20of%20entering.&text=You%20realise%20you’re%20locked,how%20to%20unlock%20the%20door.

Carroll, J. M. (2002). Human-Computer Interaction in the New Millennium. Addison Wesley.

Corkill, E. (2009). Real Escape Game brings its creator’s wonderment to life. The Japan Time, pp. Retrieved from The Japan Times.

Forgrave, Karen E. (2010). “Assistive Technology: Empowering Students with Learning Disabilities.” The Clearing House: A Journal of Educational Strategies, Issues and Ideas 122-126.

Fotaris, P., & Mastoras, T. (2019). Escape rooms for learning: A systematic review. European Conference on Game Based Learning, (pp. 235-243).

Green, R. (2020, December 16). 7 Real-world skills you can get from escape rooms. Retrieved from Exciting Escapes:

Griffiths, R. P., Eastin, M. S., & Cicchirillo, V. (2016). Competitive Video Game Play: An Investigation of Identification and Competition. Communication Research, 468-486.

Guckian, J., Eveson, L., & May, H. (2020). The great escape? The rise of the escape room in medical education. Future Healthcare Journal, 112.

Hall, L. E. (2021). Planning Your Escape: Strategy Secrets to Make You an Escape Room Superstar. New York: Tiller Press.

Heinrich, M. (2018, June 3). History of Escape Room Games. Retrieved from Labyrintoom:

Keele, Doman K, Marjorie S. Keek, Raleigh J. Huizinga, Nancy Bray, Robert Estes, and Lana Holland. (1975). “Role of specific pediatric evaluation in the evaluation of a child with learning disabilities.” Journal of Learning Disabilities 40-45.

Learning Disabilities Association of America. (2013). “Types of Learning Disabilities.” September 20.

Lovett, Maureen, Jan C. Frijters, Karen A. Steinbach, Rose A. Sevcik, and Robin D. Morris. (2021). “Effective Intervention for Adolescents with Reading Disabilities: Combining Reading and Motivational Remediation to Improve Outcomes.” Journal of Educational Psychology 656-689.

Marinho, N. (2012, January 31). The Real Escape Game in Singapore. Recognition Pattern, pp.

McKenna, K. Y., & Green, S. A. (2002). Virtual group dynamics. Group Dynamics: Theory, Research, and Practice, 116-127.

McKinsey & Company. (2022, February 8). The rise of the inclusive consumer. Retrieved from McKinsey & Company:

National Center for Learning Disabilities. (2017). Snapshot of Learning and Attention Issues in the U.S. Snapshot, NCLD.

National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. Accessed November 7, 2021.

New Mexico Escape Room. (2022, April 1). A Little History—How Did Escape Room Scenarios Originate? Retrieved from New Mexico Escape Room:,players%20in%20a%20shared%20space.

New York State Education Department. (2021) “Learning Disabilities.” Accessed November 7, 2021.

OWL Labs. (2020). State of Remote Work. OWL Labs.

Pan, R., Lo, H., & Neustaedter, C. (2017). Collaboration, Awareness, and Communication in Real-Life Escape Rooms. Conference on Designing Interactive Systems (pp. 1353-1364). Edinburgh: Association for Computing Machinery.

Schlosser, K. (2018, June 22). Geek of the Week: There’s no escaping it — Puzzle Break’s Nate Martin created his dream startup. Retrieved from Geek Wire:

Sjoberg, L. (2008, August 13). True Dungeon Lures Would-Be Dragon Slayers. Wired, pp.

Smith, S. L., & Mosier, J. N. (1986). Guidelines for designing user-interfaced software. E. Bedfors: Prepared for Deputy Commander for Development Plans and Support Systems, Electronic Systems Division, AFSC, United States Air Force, Hanscom Air Force Base, Massachusetts.

The Escape Effect. (2021, June 18). Top 3 traits of winning escape room teammates.. Retrieved from The Escape Effect:

The Escape Game. (2021, March 31). The History of Escape Rooms. Retrieved from The Escape Game:

True Dungeon. (2022, April 1). What is True Dungeon? Retrieved from True Dungeon:

Tuckman, B. (1965). Developmental sequence in small groups. Psychological Bulletin, 384-399.

United States Census Bureau. (2019). Data Profiles Learning Disabilties. US Census Bureau.

United States Department of Education. (2010). Free Appropriate Public Education for Students with Disabilities. Act, Washington D.C.: U.S. Department of Education.

 Veldkamp A, Knippels M-CPJ and van Joolingen WR (2021) Beyond the Early Adopters: Escape Rooms in Science Education. Frontiers in Education. 6:622860. doi: 10.3389/feduc.2021.622860

Veldkamp, A., van de Grint, L., Knipples, M.-C. P., & van Joolingen, W. R. (2020). Escape education: A systematic review on escape rooms in education. Educational Research.

 Villordsutch. (2017, May 13). Exclusive Interview – John Wilson talks about Zenobi Software, unreleased titles and whether we’ll see the Balrog on the ZX Spectrum Next. Retrieved from Flickering Myth:

Wadsworth, Thomas. (2008). “Childhood Voyages in Development.” 387. Victoria: Southbank.

Willis, S. (2023) “Escape rooms: An alternative to traditional forms of assessment.” Accessed December 30, 2023. In Tutaleni I. Asino (Ed.), Learning in the Digital Age.  learninginthedigitalage/

Wrightslaw. (2021) “Special Education Eligibility.” Accessed November 7, 2021.

Courtney Tricarichi

Long Island University

Courtney Tricarichi is a passionate educator, researcher, and entrepreneur who has made significant contributions in the areas of tabletop gaming and learning disabilities. With a deep commitment to education, Courtney has been an adjunct professor at Long Island University and an instructor at Nassau Community College, where she has nurtured aspiring professionals since 2015. As the co-founder of Legendary Realms Games and Terrain, she has played a pivotal role in shaping the gaming industry and creating inclusive spaces for enthusiasts. Courtney’s dedication extends to her research on the intersection of tabletop gaming and learning disabilities, exploring innovative approaches to enhance educational experiences. In addition to her academic pursuits, she has engaged with organizations such as the Long Island Professional ADHD Consortium and the International Dyslexia Association, advocating for individuals facing learning challenges. Courtney’s unwavering commitment to encouraging educational empowerment and her dedication to supporting individuals with learning disabilities make her a dynamic force in the field of education. 

Dr. David Jalajas

Long Island University

David S. Jalajas received an AB degree in psychology from Occidental College, Los Angeles, CA, an MS degree in industrial psychology from San Jose State University, San Jose, CA, and a PhD degree in industrial engineering and engineering management from Stanford University, Stanford, CA. He is currently an Associate Professor of Management at Long Island University, Brookville, NY, where he has been for the past twenty-nine years. Prior to that, he was with the School of Business, Clarkson University, Potsdam, NY. His research interests include applied psychology, creativity and innovation, employee effectiveness, and ethical decision making. His research has appeared in such journals as IEEE Transactions on Engineering Management, R&D Management, Human Resource Management Quarterly, Technology Studies, the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Organizational Development, and the Organizational Behavior Teaching Review (now the Journal of Management Education).