On November 13, 2023, the New Media Writing English course taught by Kirsten Hoyte brought the courtroom to Concord Academy with an immersive murder mystery experience. Attendees participated as the jury of an embezzlement trial, where the defendant fell to the ground in a sudden flash of darkness. The jury members then solved puzzles, examined physical and digital clues, and interviewed other characters to draw their conclusions about the perpetrator’s identity.

The course intertwines and transcends the disciplines of English, Visual Art, and Computer Science and transforms linear narratives into three-dimensional stories.

The students learned how to build characters, create a compelling mystery storyline, and write various textual clues used as evidence. The artistic design of costumes and puzzle elements also enhanced the story. Students used new computer software such as Hoverlay, an augmented reality app where users can publish and view digital media in physical spaces, and Isadora, a software designed to manipulate audio and video. Exhibitions also incorporated AI chatbots and motion sensors to further enhance the attendees’ experience.

In the escape room, jury members scanned QR codes for Hoverlay channels to view various artifacts and clues, which included spreadsheets and email screenshots that revealed valuable information about the crimes at hand. The jury could also interact with AI software that simulated the characters’ dispositions outside of the murder case. The multimedia evidence revealed the story of how a lawyer worked with his CEO client to frame and poison the CEO’s employee because he was the lawyer’s illegitimate son. The New Media Writing students acted out this thrilling plot and dropped hints along the way through their tone and choice of language.

Following the successful escape room, the class now works towards an interactive art installation. “We will design a media-rich world to evoke emotions and a sense of transformation by its audience,” reads the project description. “Like the first project, our second narrative will have a consistent theme, sensory details, and include vibrant, rich language.” The New Media Writing course redefines the parameters of CA English courses and opens up new possibilities for narrative mediums in the future.