Location-based augmented reality (AR) True Crime Games are becoming more and more popular in a variety of other contexts if catching creatures in your neighborhood park is no longer your thing. Players of Eastern Market Murder must solve a true crime mystery from more than a century ago in the places where it actually happened.
This time, players are tasked with looking into a murder that occurred in 1899 at the enormous Eastern Market, where a long-running feud between stallholders culminated in a violent altercation.
Emory Gordon Medor, who practises phrenology, the long-debunked pseudoscience of predicting a person’s mental and emotional capabilities by measuring bumps and dips on their skull, attacks Annie Stevens with a revolver. He appears enraged at losing clients to her fortune-telling business, which he regards as quackery.
While Frank, Annie’s husband, confronts Medor and is killed, Annie manages to flee with only a broken arm. After questioning witnesses and other potential suspects, the player must gather sufficient proof to link Medor to the crime. The game successfully combines the past and present thanks to its meticulous historical research and creative use of technology. It’s the most impressive use of AR I’ve come across so far.
The building where Medor actually resided 120 years ago is visited by players. In the real world, you can still make out the outline of a long-ago repaired window in the brickwork. However, that window reappears through your phone, allowing you to look inside the phrenologist’s bedroom to glean information about his personality.
Eastern Market Murder is best experienced on-site if you’re in or near Melbourne, but there is also an offline option that can be played anywhere. Even though you don’t get the thrill of visiting the actual locations, the story is still vividly brought to life through immersion.
Eastern Market Murder is available now on iOS and Android.