Exit Productions – Jury Duty [Hivemind Review]

Jury Duty is an online immersive game created by Exit Productions in the United Kingdom.

Remote Jury Service brief in the case of R v Briggs. The jurors are on Zoom.

Format

Style of Play: cooperative online immersive game featuring investigation, interrogation, and a little bit of puzzling; includes a live actor.

Required Equipment: computer with an internet connection and a mobile device

You’ll want to have your phone and email account readily available during the game. Turn on your wifi calling if you’re outside of the UK; you’ll get phone calls from a UK number.

You will need to unzip files and read PDFs easily, as well as edit a Google Doc.

Recommended Team Size: This functions as an actual jury, so 12 people is ideal.

Play Time: about 2 hours

Price: £16.76 per person

Booking: Book online for a specific time slot.

Description

Due to quarantine, the government has started a program to keep the courts running through Zoom. We were the first group of jurors to serve in this new manner. We had to review evidence and interview the accused to ascertain the truth.

A slide from the Ministry of Justice explaining this new, cost-effectve trial method.

Hivemind Review Scale

REA's hivemind review scale - 3 is recommended anytime, 2 recommended in quarantine, 1 is not recommended.

Read more about our new Hivemind Review format.

Kathryn Yu’s Reaction

Rating: 3 out of 3.

A madcap 2-hour experience over Zoom complete with fake LinkedIn and Facebook profiles, encrypted direct messages, interview recordings, email chains, mysterious phone calls, and the ability to directly speak to the accused, Jury Duty delivers. Exit Productions really takes advantage of the Internet to create an engrossing, compelling online live theatrical experience with a number of rabbit holes to fall into and mysteries to solve. Is Harry innocent? Is Harry guilty? And what’s he hiding? The jury votes determine the ending of the show, which means this experience is different for different groups. Jury Duty is a wild, adrenaline-filled ride from start to finish.

The case summary from the ministry of justice.

Cara Mandel’s Reaction

Rating: 2 out of 3.

Though Jury Duty did include elements of deductive reasoning and some light puzzling, I’d classify this as more of an online immersive experience than an escape room or puzzle hunt, per se. What Exit Productions is doing with this format (a live actor over Zoom plus breakout rooms and web-based files) is exciting. I did, however, feel a pretty strong sense of information overload at times. Even though I tried very hard to follow all the storyline threads, I was left with a sense of confusion by the end. I think this is due to the rapid pace of the experience. I’d recommend this for anyone who likes investigative crime drama or character interactions.

Peih Gee Law’s Reaction

Rating: 3 out of 3.

Jury Duty brilliantly tangles you into a shadowy world of arson, murder, and government conspiracies, where you must tease out the truth buried beneath a massive pile of documents and evidence. It felt completely believable that we were a group of jurors performing our duty remotely. Exit Productions built a highly immersive world complete with exhibits and evidence from the crime scene, as well as social media profiles, recovered text messages, and access to question the defendant.

I felt overwhelmed very quickly with how much information was thrown at us in the beginning, especially since the strategy was to divide and conquer – assigning each teammate an evidence trail to follow. I was probably highly confused even well into the second half of the game, but eventually the sinister plot began to coalesce and there was the aha! moment when it all made sense. The few puzzles we had to solve were satisfying, but not overly innovative. However, that didn’t detract from how fun this game was. Jury Duty perfectly marries murder mystery, interactive theater with elements of a puzzle hunt for a fun, unique experience.

A listing of evidence exhibits. The jurors are on Zoom.

Theresa W’s Reaction

Rating: 2 out of 3.

Jury Duty was a unique immersive game that actually made players excited to get their summons letter. The game had strong interactions with an actor, and gave players opportunities to interrogate the accused. The experience was split into two portions, first allowing players to discuss within their breakout groups, then combining the breakout groups together to further discuss what each had found. The first half of the game felt like information overload, which wasn’t necessarily a bad thing in this situation. For me, I got lost halfway into the game and just could not recover, yet was still able to solve puzzles and help the team come to a final decision. Zoom functionality was used to the fullest, which I’d love for more games to incorporate.

Richard Burns’ Reaction

Rating: 3 out of 3.

I really like games that allow players to interact with characters, so I very much appreciate that some creative people produced this show for us to enjoy. It was a dense story with a multithreaded web of connecting bits of information – so many bits that I sometimes felt overwhelmed and confused while playing. Talking through the evidence, our team was able to assemble the pieces, and that is where the true fun of the game happened. Our problem was that we needed just a bit more time to put it all together. There were some timed game transitions that affected our flow and disrupted our progress.

The show worked well on Zoom, except for the issue of 12 people all trying to share information and theories under time constraints… but that was part of the challenge. I was also somewhat unsure as to our exact roles as combination jurors/ investigators. Overall, it was an intense ride that left me thinking about the story long after the show had ended. I just wish it had lasted a little longer.

David Spira’s Reaction

Rating: 2 out of 3.

The concept, format, and technical underpinnings of Jury Duty were fantastic.

Narratively, the oddities of serving jury duty over Zoom were well justified. Functionally, Zoom’s breakout rooms were put to great use; Zoom never felt like it was in the way. The delivery of evidence was also quite strong, as were the performers. There was a lot to chew on – more than one person could handle – but not too much for a group.

Where this experience stumbled for me was in justifying the case itself and defining the jurors’ roles within it. Were we triers of fact, advocates, or investigators? The answer was all of the above, at different points in the experience… but it wasn’t always clear when Jury Duty expected what from us. This, on its own, wasn’t a huge issue; personally, I’m fine embracing a bit of uncertainty. However, it collided with the other issue of the experience:

There was a hole in the case so big and so immediately clear that I saw it within 10 seconds of scrutinizing the evidence. It felt like this case never should have been brought to trial, which I found agitating. In an immersive experience like this, you need holes in the case, something for the players to pick apart. Good game design suggests that you should find it fairly quickly, but this was too glaring for me to suspend my disbelief.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed Jury Duty in spite of this. It’s a testament to the format and overall execution. I’d just love to see this idea executed with a better case.

2 thoughts on “Exit Productions – Jury Duty [Hivemind Review]

  1. I would only give it a one-star…I was expecting at least some videos/interaction with witnesses, but instead, all we got are loads of files to read. I thought it might just be me as a non-native speaker, but my American friends lost in the middle of the game too. Pretty disappointed.

    1. It really is a reading as well as an English intense experience, and I can completely understand someone feeling that way about it.

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