Photonics teaching experiment in Artificial Reality.
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Max Planck School of Photonics: Hunting Dr. Dark​

The Max Planck School of Photonics wins the Community Prize of the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research's "Research in Germany" initiative.
Photonics teaching experiment in Artificial Reality.
Image: MPSP, FSU Jena
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Published: 3 January 2022, 10:51 | By: Axel Burchardt, translation by Dr. Anna Grimm

Photonics enthusiasts from all over the world will soon be able to meet an entertaining challenge in the virtual "Escape Room" of the Max Planck School of Photonics (MPSP): An evil scientist is planning an attack on the Physics Nobel Prize ceremony – and only you can stop him. To do that, you will have to use all your puzzle-solving skills and photonics knowledge. The MPSP has won the Community Prize of the "Research in Germany" initiative of the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) with their creative marketing idea. The prize money of 20,000 euros is used to develop an online game in which players must solve tricky puzzles to stop the evil scientist Dr. Dark.

In so-called "Escape Rooms", the players are "locked" in a room in small teams. They have to solve tricky puzzles to escape in a given time. The game is framed by an exciting story – for example, the players have to unmask a murderer or defuse a bomb. In the course of the Corona pandemic, online variants of escape rooms became more and more popular. Here, players communicate via headset while they search for clues in virtual rooms.

The "Community Prize"

The team at the Max Planck School of Photonics (MPSP) picked up this trend in their competition idea for the Community Prize of the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research's "Research in Germany" initiative. The initiative supports German universities and research institutions in their international research marketing and helps them to raise the international awareness for top German research. The “Community Prize” is an idea competition supposed to stimulate creative marketing ideas. To enter the competition, an innovative research marketing idea had to be presented in a three-minute video pitch. Marketing managers from other research institutions then elected the winners in an online voting.

The idea of a virtual "Photonics Escape Room"

The MPSP joined the challenge and submitted their idea of a virtual puzzling game. As a network graduate school, the MPSP brings together the best scientists in the field of photonics throughout Germany. They provide their international doctoral candidates with access to the knowledge of more than 45 research groups at 16 universities and non-university research institutions in many different fields of photonics. Bringing this great variety of research closer to potential applicants, the doctoral candidates and the photonics community is the great challenge for the MPSP marketing.

"The top researchers of tomorrow prefer to be informed in a playful and entertaining way, rather than via classic marketing measures such as brochures," says MPSP marketing manager Dr. Anna Grimm, explaining the motivation behind the successful competition idea. With the virtual Escape Room, the MPSP wants to bring photonics fans from all over the world closer to the research of the partner institutions. The puzzles come directly from the MPSP labs and the story introduces the different MPSP sites. For a first glimpse of what this might look like, you can check out the contest video here:

Implementation planned by October 2022

The idea convinced, and so the Max Planck School of Photonics was awarded 20,000 euros prize money for its implementation. The development of the online game will start in January 2022 – the escape room will then be available online and free of charge to all photonics fans in the world from October 2022. Until then, the MPSP team is always happy to receive ideas for exciting photonics puzzles.

Marketing Manager
Max Planck School of Photonics
Anna Grimm, Dr
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