There is a new game in Milan: it's called Clocked. This is not an escape room. On the history of designand physically it is located on the floor -1 of the ADI Design Museum. As the surrealist tradition dictates, Clocked is actually an escape room, but it isn't since it is (also) an exhibition.
So, Clocked is a exhibition-game on the history of Italian design, conceived with the logic of the escape room. First, because to get out you need to solve all the puzzles (there are very silent guides who accompany visitors - players who don't speak even under torture, and who keep watch with equal severity).
Second, because the information you need is all displayed in the room, the basement of Adi Design, specially set up for playing: you need to know how to observe, understand the clues and find the evidence with a detective's eye .
Thirdly, you need to be a team: you play together with others, just like in the treasure hunts of the past. And if design is the main theme of this narrative, the protagonists are the players and their investigative arts, not at all facilitated by a good knowledge of the subject: without the spirit of observation and without the ability collaborative, there is a risk of not reaching the end of the game.
Who designs escape rooms?
This exhibition was conceived by Claudio Palvarini, president of the Circuito Lombardo Musei Designand Marta Palvarini, but above all game designer and expert in gaming strategies.
«These strategies», explains Claudio Palvarini, «are increasingly applied to culture. Role-playing games and escape rooms have addressed all possible themes, from splatter games to porn ones, passing through investigative ones, now even those with political and cultural content are having success. The game is analogue (although there are often digital inserts in escape rooms) and has the relationship at its centre.
In fact, here you can come with a group of friends or book individually and find yourself playing with strangers".
Conceived within the network of design museums, this exhibition involves 14 out of 31, where the winners of the escape room will be able to continue the game with other missions - as they are called - until they receive , if all three are completed, a postcard from the future to reflect on the role of design today, in the era of the climate emergency.
The purpose? «Play!» replies Claudio Palvarini, «and we hope to involve many different audiences, especially curious ones».
Playing is an extraordinary form of communication.
«Here we chose a completely analogue path also because we wanted to play with history», explains Marta Palvarini, «So we started from the idea of manipulating objects and used graphic design as a key to understanding in something very close to publishing.
But there is certainly also the influence of digital, of games with a sandbox structure, in which there are numerous tools available to players, but there is no particular objective to achieve or a plot to follow, leaving the freedom to modify the world of the game itself. A typical example is Mindcraft».
In the escape room at the ADI Design Museum you lose the sense of time
If digital becomes analogue... the going gets tough! «Well, yes, here we wanted to create the conditions for an emergent game, that is, a game that creates the game. For example, with respect to history and the linear idea of time: in the escape room you completely lose yourself.
Players must find information, move on different levels, even physically in space, and then reuse those tools in the final game, where they act autonomously, manipulating the environment. The logic is that of Donna Haraway's skein theory."
The game of skein, to survive
The scientist and philosopher of science Donna Haraway, also known for her Cyborg Manifesto which was pioneering in the 1980s along with her radical feminism, with the book Chthlucene. Surviving on an infected planet (Nero editore) catapults us into the present time and into living on a deeply disturbed planet, in discomfort, but also in a time in which we survive thanks to the theory of skein, a game that consists of giving and receiving patterns or figures, creating new threads, which other hands will then take up and relaunch in a shared, collective and evolving knitting project.
«In this escape room», continues Marta Palvarini, «You play a game of skein between the clues, the objects on display and between the people. Thus you arrive at the final phase of the game ready to act in total freedom, because you have first understood what it means to play.
And theLetter from the Futurethat only those players who pass the missions in the other museums of Lombardy will receive will be a reflection that also has to do with Donna Haraway's theories."
Gambling is serious business. In fact, very serious
Well, playing is really serious. Very serious indeed. Because in all this there is meticulous attention to philology and historical punctuality, an important methodological question and the intention to enhance the network of design museums. Going in order, upon leaving the escape room the players are given a small guide with all the references of the objects they have encountered and perhaps used.
A story within a story then makes this exhibition precious because for the first time it will be possible to see Franco Albini's Mitragliera lamp restored and working!
As for the method, this skein structure of the game allows you to think about time in an unusual way and use space creatively, while the team guarantees the establishment of new relationships and also the exercise of that form of democracy necessary for coexistence in the game space. A linguistic experimentor, too.
As Luciano Galimberti, president of ADI Design Museum, underlined, the current reality «no longer works through simplifications, it is too complex. And this exhibition is perfect for explaining the complexity of the future".
As for the network, the first step after the escape room is to complete the mission leaflet on the travel plan which leads the player to visit three other museums participating in the exhibition. If he achieves all his objectives... he will be forced to play the last game, that of thinking about the present with a view to the future. And, perhaps, he will never leave the role of player again.
Clocked. This is not an escape room. On the history of design can be visited until 29 October, by reservation. Adi Design Museum, piazza Compasso d'Oro 1, Milan (you have until December 17th for missions to the other museums).