Interactive mobile game launched to tackle ‘hidden issues’ of race in Britain

30 March 2021, 12:14

Dead Man's Phone game
Interactive mobile game launched to tackle ‘hidden issues’ of race in Britain. Picture: PA

Dead Man’s Phone uses young black actors and a real-life police detective to make the crime drama as authentic as possible.

A Bafta-nominated mobile game which puts the spotlight on the “hidden issues” around race in Britain has been launched.

Dead Man’s Phone addresses problems of police profiling, racism and gang-related violence in a “found phone” interactive drama.

The “found phone” genre requires players to examine the handset of murdered black teenager Jerome Jacobs, who was pushed off a south London tower block, using his personal messages, photos and social media for clues.

Developer ElectricNoir worked with young black actors in London and a real-life police detective in a bid to make the interactive crime drama as authentic as possible.

“Being a part of the Dead Man’s Phone project has been a dream come true,” said Tafari Golding, who plays the role of Jerome.

“The last 12 months in particular have proven that more needs to be done to improve relationships between police and the BAME community, and I believe that this experience will highlight some of the biggest issues that still remain.

“I was heavily involved in shaping the project from the beginning, sharing my personal insight into the language used in the script and making sure we told the story that we’re all human.

“As a result, ElectricNoir has created a truly authentic experience that highlights marginalised societies, showcasing the hidden issues in Britain.

“These issues typically haven’t been captured in mobile games before, and I hope that this is the catalyst that will change that.”

Players take the role of a New Scotland Yard detective investigating the murder.

As the plot thickens, they are required to use a range of tools such as maps to track the live location of suspects, a social media app for launching viral campaigns, and Zoom to carry out police interviews.

The title was a nominee for the EE Mobile Game of the Year at the 2020 Bafta Game Awards.

Former British homicide detective Sim Cryer collaborated on the project and also lent his voice as a chief inspector in the game.

Dead Man's Phone
Players must search the smartphone of a black teenager to collect evidence and uncover the truth about his murder (ElectricNoir/PA)

Nihal Tharoor, founder and chief executive of ElectricNoir, said: “We created Dead Man’s Phone in order to tell an intimate, complex and meaningful story about the death of a black teenager in London.

“So often relegated to a simple news headline, working on mobiles allowed us to create an accessible experience with a really poignant message that would reach a much wider audience.

“Traditional cinema, TV and literature mediums aren’t currently equipped to deal with this mobile-first ecosystem and we felt it was important to introduce a new method of storytelling to reflect the interactive world we live in.

“The ongoing lack of representation of BAME stories in gaming, TV and entertainment was also something we wanted to address, giving young BAME actors, musicians and other creatives a platform to show and grow their talent.”

The first season of Dead Man’s Phone is told across six episodes, which are available to download free of charge on iOS and Android.

By Press Association