The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Monday January 24th

Q&A with Wilson Librarian about Clue, Emily Jack

The spot where an old tree used to be outside Dey Hall.
Buy Photos The spot where an old tree used to be outside Dey Hall.

Live Action Clue is tonight at Wilson Library, that's no mystery. However, few people know the ins and outs of this event better than Emily Jack, digital projects and outreach librarian for Wilson Library's North Carolina Collection Gallery. Staff writer Aaron Whittemore spoke with Jack to discuss the origins and details of this event. Another mystery solved.  

The Daily Tar Heel: How did this event first come into being?

Emily Jack: We’ve been doing this event since October 2012. The initial idea behind it came from a woman named Becky Garrett who works in the library. Becky is a room monitor in the Grand Reading Room, and she's also a recreation therapist. She’s someone who thinks about solving problems using games. She noticed a lot of undergraduate students were intimidated by the Wilson Library and thought this was a problem that could be solved with a game. This led to her idea that we could have a live game of Clue in Wilson Library.  

The first game in was held in October 2012 and bears almost no resemblance to the game we play today. This is because we’ve had a committee developing the game every semester since. We’ve done this in the fall and spring and always incorporate suggestions from players. Over the last five years, we’ve built it up into something that is very dynamic, immersive and exciting.

DTH: How is the event set up? How does the game work and flow?

EJ: The mission of the teams in the game is that they’re trying to solve a mystery. People who remember the classic Clue board game will remember the who, what and where question. In our game, the question is — I don’t want to give too much away because if people who are reading this are playing the game, I don’t want to give them an unfair advantage — but I’ll just say there’s a who, what and where and the way those questions are answered emerges from an interrogation that the players do of these six suspects who are held for questioning. 

In order to gain access to interview those six subjects, they need to interact with the building in certain ways. So that’s the structure. The players play in teams from three to five. At the end, we have an awards ceremony where everybody eats pizza, and we count up the scores and announce the winners.

DTH: The who, what, where — is it based directly off the Clue game or is it something different?

EJ: It is something different. It’s not a murder mystery; it’s a supernatural mystery narrative. The narrative is always the same but the solution changes. The who, what and where change, but the narrative is the same. There’s always this supernatural incident, and the players are trying to get to the bottom of it.

DTH: How does a team win this game?

EJ: There’s a time element and also a points component. The first team to submit their guess (of) the solution to the mystery gets a certain number of points as a bonus. The next team to submit gets slightly less points and on down until the final team to submit. In order to win, the team needs to get the solution correct. So, if you don’t get the solution correct, you don’t have a chance of winning. If you do get the solution correct, it’s a matter of points. But you can get a lot more points by solving the mystery quickly.

DTH: Do you have a favorite Clue character?

EJ: I do. I think when I was a kid I was very fond of Miss Scarlett because she had this kind of air of mystery about her. But as one of the coordinators for the Clue game, I’ve developed a fondness for Mr. Green. The people who portray the Clue characters in the Wilson Library game are library staff members and sometimes master's (degree) students in the Library Science program. This is one of the greatest benefits of the game. Students get to see another side of librarians who they normally interact with at their reference desk. There was a library staff member here who portrayed Mr. Green for several years running. He no longer works in the library, but he developed the Mr. Green character into someone who was just wildly eccentric. I think a lot of us who have been here throughout the five years of Clue have a real fondness for Mr. Green because of him. 

DTH: Do you think this game has helped students become less intimidated by Wilson Library with its big building and fancy decor?

EJ: I think so. I think so many students don’t feel like they have a research reason to come in here, but we really want to encourage them to see that this building is open for everyone and there are many reasons to come in here that aren’t necessarily tied to doing research. We want them to see our exhibits and to know that this is a welcoming building. 

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