Sandra’s Keys: An Escape Room on Elder Abuse


February 18, 2022

Researchers & Collaborators:

Scott DeJong, Concordia University
Kim Sawchuk, Concordia University
Constance Lafontaine, Concordia University
Anne Caines, Respecting Elders: Communities against Abuse (RECAA)
Sarita Israel, Centre de recherche et d’expertise en gérontologie sociale (CREGÉS)



Research Areas:

Older Adult Mistreatment
Game Design
Intergenerational Design
Raising Public Awareness

ACT Partners:

Concordia University
RECAA (Respecting Elders, Communities Against Abuse)
CREGES (Centre for Research and Expertise in Social Gerontology)

Sandra’s Keys is an escape room on older adult mistreatment that was co-designed by researchers, community partners, and professionals in the field of social gerontology to raise public awareness of older adult mistreatment. Escape rooms are a sub-genre of immersive problem-solving games that have become popular over the past decade among young adults. In these games, small teams of two to four individuals are invited to enter a room, where they are asked to solve puzzles and riddles together. 

Our escape room is centered on a fictional situation of older adult mistreatment that includes financial, psychological and physical mistreatment, as well as denial of rights. The room combines environmental storytelling, puzzles and clues to form an overarching narrative to immerse participants in a messy and subtle situation of mistreatment. Based on a partnership between the ACT Lab, Respecting Elders: Communities against Abuse (RECAA) and the Centre de recherche et d’expertise en gérontologie sociale (CREGÉS), the project uses a collaborative approach to design that is responsive to expertise of the community and social services sectors. After a successful showing of the game at the B/OLD symposium in 2019, Sandra’s Keys is now set up as for a longer-term tenure in the ACT Lab at Concordia University.

Relevant publication:

Lafontaine, C., Sawchuk, K. & DeJong, S. Social Justice Games: Building an Escape Room on Elder Abuse through Participatory Action Research. Comput Game J 9, 189–205 (2020).

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