Saskatchewan

Web developer showcases Regina history with video game based in city cemetery

When Kenton de Jong first proposed making a video game about Regina's cemetery, he admits people looked at him a little … strangely.

Players talk to figures from Regina's past in video game to help character escape from purgatory

A Regina web developer has created a video game around the Regina cemetery. (Submitted by Kenton de Jong)

When Kenton de Jong first proposed making a video game about Regina's cemetery, he admits people looked at him a little strangely. 

The Regina web developer's interest in the cemetery began two years ago, when he started a campaign to memorialize unmarked graves from victims of the Spanish flu epidemic of 1918-20.

Eventually, he started running tours of the cemetery to raise money for the project, digging into the city's past and discovering how the cemetery could be a valuable tool to tell its stories.

He thought a video game would be an accessible way to get the stories out to the public.

"Nobody believed me that I would do it," de Jong told CBC Radio's The Afternoon Edition. "They looked at [me] like I just grew a second head or something."

The video game he created stars a recently departed member of the Regina cemetery who is trapped in purgatory. The only way to escape is to learn about the necropolis's best-known residents.

"They talk about the cyclone, they talk about the Regina riot, they talk about past mayors, past police officers," he said. "Different Roughrider quarterbacks, all sorts of people from Regina's history."

Kenton de Jong says the video game he created is respectful of the subject material. (Peter Mills/CBC)

While some people were concerned about the game's content, de Jong says it's respectful of the subject material.

"It's a top-down style game that you don't have to play in the cemetery," he said. 

"One concern that people had is that it would be like Pokemon Go and be wandering on the graves looking at your phone and knocking into things. I didn't want that to happen."

For a link to the game, click here.

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