dips / A Crypto-Onboarding Escape Room

A Crypto-Onboarding Escape Room

DIP 11: A Crypto-Onboarding Escape Room

Summary of Proposal

As a continuation of a tradition started in Prague, let's have an escape room experience at Devcon6!

This time, however, the mechanics and story of the room should be fundamentally crypto.

Abstract

Daedalus Industries proposes a sequel to "The Spy Who Staked Me" Crypto-Escape Room experience.

The general mechanics, outline, and several pieces of equipment are adaptable from the previous production, but there are some open questions concerning space, funding, and local execution that need to be addressed.

Motivation & Rationale

Escape rooms are a wonderful experience to have at an event like Devcon; and offer an alternative environment to have fun and take a break from the conference proper.

An escape room is also an educational opportunity for crypto onboarding. Cryptography and cryptocurrency are the perfect foundation for both imaginative storytelling and ingenious puzzle-making. Fundamentals of operational security, "hacking", and digital forensics can be introduced in a safe and fun environment.

This was my intention in creating "The Spy who Staked Me" for ETHBerlin: to have an escape room where crypto is front-and-center. Throughout the experience, players solve puzzles in order to break into the wallets of Alice, Bob, Charlie, and others, in order to save the world from the threat of EVE. In doing so, they learn basic principles of seed phrases, choosing strong passwords, encryption and other fun cryptography techniques for hiding (and discovering) hidden secrets.

At an event like Devcon where the 'cool' crypto people like to show off their brainpower, there is an additional opportunity to let people do some (fair and open) wagers-- dogfooded on Ethereum, of course. The exact mechanism needs to be polished, but the general idea is that teams must put up a minimum stake (first and foremost as a collateral for valuable items in the room) which they make back by solving the increasingly difficult puzzles within. Optionally, players could add an additional 'boasting' bet for their score within the room. If they solve all the puzzles, perhaps they might get back more than they put in, or cause an additional amount to be donated to some appropriate charitable cause.

Implementation

As stated earlier, I was the lead producer of the escape room at ETHBerlinZwei. After having successfully run that event experience, only now do I feel confident enough to propose a Devcon escape room.

Although most of the DIPs contained here are meant to be in some sense publicly discussed and guided, in this case I believe the experience is best handled by the few people I know to be reliable and capable, i.e. the Daedalus.Industries team from last year at ETHBerlin. Creative and technical projects like this don't lend themselves very well to the wisdom of the crowd, and I would like to maintain a countenance of mystery throughout the development process. I know it's a lot to ask, but I'm requesting complete centralized creative control over the project.

Operational Requirements & Ownership

There are essentially 3 components to a well-executed escape room:

  • Narrative & Aesthetic. The overall narrative needs to be compelling and make sense in the context of both Ethereum AND Colombia. The props and components of the room must be chosen to fit the narrative. This entails several months worth of research, writing time, prop acquisition, and in this case likely a bit of local translation.

  • Hardware. Several custom-built components need to be either shipped from Berlin (some pieces are quite heavy) or assembled in Bogotá before the event.

  • Software. The burner wallet needs to be adapted to both the new story and a well-conceived mechanism of staking.

There exists a lead-person for each of these elements on the Daedalus team, and I've confirmed with each of them they are willing and able to work on them this year in preparation for Devcon6.

What I do not have sorted yet concern locale and execution:

  • Space. I have no idea what the space or layout entails. This is potentially important for the story, as well as the set design.

  • Marketing. Limited event 'experiences' are hard enough to promote, but this is compounded by the secretive nature of an escape room. This is one area where help from the Devcon team could really make all the difference.

  • Funding. Between working hours, travel expenses, and custom equipment/furniture builds, this is not a cheap proposal by any stretch of the imagination. I believe there is some opportunity for external funding from the ecosystem, such as sponsorship from hardware wallet companies or (tasteful and unimposing) in-room promotions. I can provide an itemized budget from the previous production by request, but would rather not post it here.

  • Translation. Although it would be a tremendous amount of work, producing the story and materials to be Spanish-compatible would be worth it, IMO. The whole point of the room is for crypto-onboarding, and a Spanish-language option would encourage much more local participation.

Links and Additional Information

https://medium.com/ethberlin/crypto-educational-escape-rooms-lessons-from-berlin-85f6765535c3

https://medium.com/@dmihal/bringing-the-burner-wallet-to-ethberlins-escape-room-5d2d01992962