I’m standing in what used to be a Paul Smith store in Covent Garden, but instead of browsing for snazzy striped shirts I’m on my hands and knees, poking my head through a hole in a table and blowing air at a model wind turbine. Can I simulate the process of making green energy all by myself?
Time’s ticking, so minutes later I’m throwing tennis balls through a secret hatch, trying to reveal the secret code to a puzzle which contains energy policies to help halt climate change. The more clues I find, the more policies I unlock, the more I learn. I test each policy on a computer and it shows me, with a graph, how effective that policy is at curbing C02 emissions.
I’m an early testee of what creator Camille Gillet is calling the world’s first climate change escape room. “I wanted to create a vibe without the doomy threatening feeling we get from reading about climate change,” she tells me as I frantically piece together a wooden puzzle denoting sustainable and unsustainable food cycles.
I’m useless at riddles, graphs and numbers, but Camille reassures me. “Everyone comes here with a different advantage,” she says as I scan Quality Sweet packets and Quorn snacks to discover their eco-footprint. (I’m not sure I wanted to know – I’ve always loved Quality Street, until now.)
The idea is to learn about the five best policies to reduce carbon emissions, but mainly to make climate change fun. It sounds odd, but as we’re more and more fatigued by the doom and gloom headlines, perhaps play is the best way to get us involved in the conversation.
Headlines tell us we have as little as 18 months to change the fate of humankind and preserve our world for future generations. And yet, protest groups like Extinction Rebellion feel out of touch by doing demonstrations which harm everyday commuters rather than those with power. And many of us wonder what the point in spending our free time recycling wine bottles is when airlines are flying half-empty to maintain commercial airport slots.
In this age of weariness, I hope Camille’s climate change escape room earmarks the beginning of a new way to engage people in the climate emergency.
9-11 Langley Court, London, WC2E 9JY, Thurs – Sun until March 31. Tickets cost £10 and that includes a free drink. Book online at Immergency.co, email@example.com