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Rachel Konig rsk639

Reporting: Words
May 6, 2015
Leo Chen
Henry Shi
Panic Room Founders
I contacted Leo off the Panic Room Website and he and Henry answered my questions
through Leos email.
Michael Hasler (Didnt end up using his interview)
Program Director for the MS program in Business Analytics at the Red McCombs School
of Business taught many of the founders of APR
(512) 232-8192
Robert Duke
Professor of Human Learning at UT
Found his email on the UT experts page and he was so quick to respond and such a great
Elvis Yang
Panic Room Operator
Josh Fisher
UT Sophomore
(Click each photo to see descriptions)
(Click on each pin to see descriptions)

In a seemingly plain white brick house in East Austin, the front red steps lead to an
adventure that is far from plain. At Austin Panic Room, Josh Fisher and his teammates
found out they were being blackmailed to help a criminal to steal valuable artifacts. They
had 60 minutes to escape the padlocked Museum Room with nothing but a walkie-talkie
and their wits.
Elvis, how much time we got? asked Fisher as he clutched the walkie-talkie, waiting
for the Panic Room Operators response. Eight minutes Elvis clicked in, and then he
was gone.
Welcoming more than 10,000 players since its opening in September 2014, Austin Panic
Room has evolved from a quaint house on Rio Grande Street to an entertainment
attraction for students and businesses. The panic room not only creates an entertaining
teamwork challenge, but also provides a psychological challenge in which participants
are forced to test their individual and collaborative problem-solving skills.
Players sign up online and can either play with strangers or form their own team with up
to 12 people. Once the whole team arrives on the scheduled day, everyone surrenders
their phones as the Panic Room Operator provides a scenario depending which themed
room they are about to enter. Although the scenarios are pretend, the experience of a
challenge tells much more about fundamental aspects of human behavior.
Being able to solve problems has to do with more than just intellectual strategies. It has
to do with emotional attitudes as well, said Dr. Robert A. Duke, professor of human
learning at the University of Texas at Austin.
Duke explained that different people have different strategies for solving problems.
Thats because their personality and unique knowledge come into play.
Certainly having different kinds of people working on a problem is often beneficial
because you have different perspectives and some people notice things that other people
don't, said Duke.
Similar to how players individual personalities are used to solve the clues, the Austin
Panic Room founders collaborate their personalities to develop the clues.
Usually the founders get together and spend all night thinking of clues and themes and
ideas that we think will be interactive and engaging for our customers, said Henri Shi,
co-founder of Austin Panic Room.
Another co-founder, Leo Chen, explained that when coming up with the idea for Austin
Panic Room, the founders considered personality differences and ways to facilitate a
collaborative environment. They did this by allowing players only seven hints from the
Panic Room Operators to solve the task. This forces players to take advantage of what
each personality on their team can bring to the table.

Duke explained that problem solving is not solely based on intellectual knowledge, but is
indeed based on aspects of personality and environment. The psychological term is
If you were to do something in a particular environment or set of circumstances, transfer
has to do with the extent to which you would actually generalize ones knowledge and
skill into a different context or different set of circumstances, said Duke.
Problems presented in Austin Panic Room are not like methodical problems learned in a
classroom. That is why panic sets in, Duke explained: the players exhaust general
knowledge and skill, leaving them stuck and reliant on fundamental human behavior.
With no additional hints and barely any time left, Fisher and his team panicked.
30 seconds! Fisher cried out to the rest of his panicking team.
Try this combination! hollered another teammate.
No, this one! said another.
Five, four, three, two Elvis clicked in.
I got it! a teammate yelled.
No! Fisher exclaimed. They were eight seconds too late.