Folklore in Games (and game idea)

(The outside of Northern High School, from DPS’s website)


A story was once relayed to me via my mother, one from when she was a high schooler. After school one day, a classmate of my her’s was shot 9 times in the chest while sitting in her car in the parking lot of Northern High School in Durham. The perpetrator was a classmate, who had harbored unrequited feelings for the young, popular girl for some time. He then drove his truck out into a tobacco field outside of the city, taped a confession into a cassette tape, and left it in the tape deck of his car to be found by the police.

This story fascinates and haunts me, and has since my mom first told me when I was a child. So, something I would like to tap into with my game is our historical fascination with serial killers and violent crime. We glorified serial killers such as Ted Bundy and Ed Kemper- not because we liked what they did, but because we as a society could collectively agree that what they did was awful. Transplant that horror to a small southern town (not unlike my hometown) in a high school in the 80’s. Plant yourself as one of those kids who could exist in that world- the varsity jock, the AV-club nerd, the bookish and shy girl, etc etc. All The Breakfast Club types that we know and love. Bring in an FBI agent who knows nothing of small town life and make him run against the clock to hunt down the killer.

It’s not the assault that was initially described to me, but the feeling is similar. It plays into the tropes that we have so made into American canon over the years. It is instantly familiar, but it allows me to play with it, and create something new- we are informed by our public experience with these stereotypes and their typical relationships, allowing anyone to upend that initial experience.

The game would be a first-person adventure mystery game, where you play as a character of your choice. Each character plays a different part in the mystery, meaning that replays of the game allows the player to see a different side of the case. The “neutral character” would be FBI agent Frank Finch, who is overworked and used to the hustle and bustle of the New York field office. After an incident where his partner killed a civilian in cold blood, Frank is looking for a change of pace and is moved to Raleigh. He wasn’t expecting to get sent to Durham to work the murder of Norma Jean, but he reluctantly begins the investigation.

This is obviously only a snippet of the potential story, and the potential characters, but playing into the stereotypes of horror tropes, and other popular movies allows a lot of lee way with the character development and creation.


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