Sexual Assault Support Centre concerned about Ripper game coming in June

A U.K. business called CluedUpp is bringing a murder mystery game to Kitchener in June, called The Kitchener Ripper. The Sexual Assault Support Centre of Waterloo Region has raised concerns about the event being based on real-life serial killer Jack the Ripper.

Company says Ripper game based on 'fictional content'

A U.K. company called CluedUpp plans to bring a murder mystery game to Kitchener in June that involves using GPS to move people across the city to find clues. The Sexual Assault Support Centre of Waterloo Region has raised concerns about the content of the game, which is called The Kitchener Ripper. (Anetlanda / Shutterstock)

An online murder mystery game where people use GPS to find clues across the city is set to come to Kitchener this June, but it's raising questions from the region's sexual assault support centre.

The U.K.-based CluedUpp Games plans to bring a game called The Kitchener Ripper to the city on June 5. For a fee, teams of up to six people can work to solve the mystery of who is the murderer. An image on the game's website shows a person in a top hat and the words "Jack the Ripper."

On its Twitter account, the Sexual Assault Support Centre of Waterloo Region raised concerns about the game revolving around the crimes of Jack the Ripper.

"This is part of a culture of movies, TV, and many social media posts that glorifies and romanticizes serial killers while ignoring the victims of these crimes," the centre tweeted. "Please consider skipping."

Game is 'fictional content'

A spokesperson for CluedUpp Games told CBC Kitchener-Waterloo in an email that officials planned to reach out the sexual assault support centre to further explain the game set to go ahead in June.

"Our game is a piece of fictional content and not based on true events. The storyline of our mystery is completely unrelated to the 1888 killings in London," the email read.

"All of the victims within our mystery are male. There is no abuse or violence against women portrayed within our storyline whatsoever."

The company also runs a game called Witchcraft and Wizardry, but the spokesperson did not respond to a question about whether they'd consider switching the game set to be played in Kitchener.

Sara Casselman is the executive director of the Sexual Assault Support Centre of Waterloo Region. (Submitted by Sara Casselman)

Jack the Ripper not fictional

Sara Casselman is the executive director of the sexual assault support centre. She says CluedUpp reached out to the centre through a tweet that was similar to the response sent to CBC K-W. She says the company's response isn't good enough.

"They're acting like Jack the Ripper is a fictional character, when, in fact, he absolutely wasn't. He was a real life serial killer who targeted, tortured and killed the most vulnerable women in society," Casselman said in an interview, noting many of the women killed were believed to be sex workers.

She said it would be like creating a Canadian game named after the pig farmer in B.C., or the gunman responsible for the Montreal Massacre. 

"And when I say that, I'm purposely not saying their names because I don't want them to have fame and notoriety around what they've done and I don't want there to be games named after them in the future," she said.

Start a conversation

Casselman says she wants the game, and the question of whether to participate in it, to spark a conversation in the community.

"What kind of community do we want to be? Do we want to be the kind of community that has events like this that we endorse and support? Or do we want to be more thoughtful about what we're promoting and supporting here?" she said.

Casselman says the centre has seen requests for service rise by 45 per cent during the pandemic, and "we were already working past capacity" before that.

"We know that domestic violence reports to police are up [during the pandemic] and the amount of work that our our sisters are doing at the women's shelter, women's crisis services, they're dealing with  more folks coming forward than ever before. And so this is a time where our community actually needs to show support, solidarity around violence against women," she said.