Now is probably not the best time to launch a phone game that invites players to roam the streets of Melbourne interviewing virtual “witnesses” as they attempt to solve a 122-year-old crime. Corn Eastern Market Murder, created by husband and wife duo Andy Yong and Emma Ramsay, has nonetheless found its place in the world.
The real augmented reality crime game, which launched in May, is nominated in two categories at next week’s show. Australian Game Developer Awards, which will be presented online as part of Melbourne International Games Week.
This is the couple’s second foray into the historical mystery under the True Crime Games banner. “It’s something we’ve always been interested in, especially the crimes that happened locally,” says Ramsay, resplendent in a Victorian-era fortune teller outfit that she picked up at Emu Market. Plains on the Mornington Peninsula, and which she intends to wear at the virtual awards ceremony.
“We love that you can play it on the streets where it really happened, you can uncover all the injustices and face the killer at the end. You place a virtual window against the wall of the building where the prison was located, you look into the prison cell and confront the murderer with all the evidence you have gathered during the game.
The East Market was on the corner of Bourke and Stephen (now Exhibition) streets in the city, and in 1899, merchant Emery Gordon Medor had a stall near former circus performers Francis and Annie Stevens (aka Cartwright). Medor, who practiced phrenology, the now discredited “science” of revealing characters by studying human skull bumps, apparently didn’t like his neighbors very much. April morning he fired two shots at Annie, then two shots, before slitting her husband’s throat.
Ramsay, whose background is in communications, and Yong, who has worked in the games industry for over a decade, became fascinated by the case after hearing about it on the Real Crime Podcast. Dead and buried. They came across the story of their first AR crime app, Misadventure at Petit Lon, after participating in a Melbourne Historical Crime Tour of the old brothel district. “We just keep a listening ear for what interests us,” says Ramsay.
With both apps, the challenge was to create something that would work for a much larger audience than your typical gamers. “We bring in people who are really in the story but have never played a game in their life, and then you have your players who love murder mystery games. It needs to be intuitive enough for everyone to play, but challenging enough for players to participate as well.
He appears to have reached that sweet spot, with the couple having been approached by people in South Africa, the US and the UK about the possibility of creating similar city-specific criminal adventures for other territories. .