British Broadcasters Channel 4 send word of the first of their new online games, a rather well produced point-and-click detective adventure Bow Street Runner, which is set to arrive in a number of episodes in the coming months. The game is aimed to educate players about the work of the early police force – The Bow Street Runners – who were tasked with cleaning up the crime-ridden horrors of Georgian London. Surprisingly, it’s pretty good.
The game is a basically a hotspot search, but that works, given the detective tasks that face you. There’s also quite a bit of convincingly delivered dialogue, and interrogation, which I believe is delivered by actors from the City Of Vice TV show, with which the game is associated. Consequently the game is a high quality affair the likes of which we don’t often see, even in commercially produced point and click games. There are some really nice touches in the smaller puzzles too, such as lifting things from people’s pockets or clearing away rubble to get to evidence. A simple instance of what browser-based gaming is capable of, wrapped in a rather authentic package.
I believe authenticity is the core theme here: it is teaching us about what it was like for the early coppers, and for the magistrates who tried to put the rule of law back into the nastiest times of the Big Smoke. This is one of the games intended to “edutain”, and if Channel 4 can maintain this level of quality in the online games then this is the kind of thing that could, and should, end up in school history lessons. Not that anyone actually studies the Georgian era these days, but y’know, in principle.