Imagine being on a planet that is completely dark; a planet where the atmosphere filters out the visible spectrum of light.

There is warmth, there is air, but there is no light.

(Pictures do  NOT do Nocterra justice, it must be experienced)

Mission to Nocterra is one of the planned highlights of this year’s Maker Faire Denver, and it will give attendees the chance to experience a world of total darkness, as they attempt to find their way through the interactive installation, October 13 – 14 at the National Western Complex. Stay tuned to reserve a ticket.


Created by Tact-Ed, (with the help of designers: Dan Griner, Jenny Filipetti, Alexi High, Mara Maxwell, Brice Sullivan and Bailey Van Etten) in partnership with the Colorado Center for the Blind, the attraction is sponsored with funds from Meow Wolf.  After its initial debut at Maker Faire DenverMission to Nocterra will tour the country.


“It’s a chance to explore your senses and use your cognitive skills to tap into an alien world,” explains Maker Faire Denver Director, Dan Griner. “Maker Faire Denver has the theme of Inclusion this year and while it should always be a consideration, we wanted to commission something special for many of the people in our community whose experience of the world around us is different and pull back the curtain on a part of their experience. ‘Mission to Nocterra’, besides being experiential, challenges you to solve clues and derive meaning through what our more dormant senses are telling you.

Here are some words from Matt Gesualdi who came up with the idea.
My first designs for the escape room were STEM-oriented and made to be adapted to challenge both school-aged kids and adults. I knew that to put blind and sighted people on a more equal footing the room had to be totally dark and dependent on the only touch, so the idea started out as sketches of puzzles that would work in total darkness. Most of the puzzles were geometry based and looking back, they were either boring or very difficult; as if doing math in the dark made doing math exciting.

The concepts stayed in my sketchbook for six months until Dan Griner asked if I had any ideas for an exhibit for the Denver Maker Faire. I put together some 3D models and renderings of four of the most interesting puzzles and presented my ideas. He loved it and with some adjustments we started planning what was next.

With a great team of talented designers and funding from Meow Wolf we’ve created a fun, interactive, accessible exhibit. We’re incredibly lucky to have been given a large space to work in at the Colorado Center for the Blind. They’ve supported my research and testing for the last 20 years and I’m happy to share this with them.

I’m very proud of where the original idea for this escape-type room has progressed.


October 24th, 2018

Last night we had more than 50 people test our Nocterra escape room. It’s an odd irony that to test an alien life form environment, we needed so many humans, but that’s Human Centered-Design for you.

In my humble opinion, everyone had a great time. But more importantly, we learned a lot about our interactions. Designing in the light for something that’s used in pitch black has been one of the most challenging and rewarding efforts. Whether for the blind or sighted community I’m always aware that our sense of touch is our strongest connection to the world around us.

Come to Maker Faire Denver on October 13th and 14th to see it for yourselves.


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