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The Daily Tar Heel
Town Talk

Carrboro to be featured in new video game

The Daily Tar Heel Staff Writer Mary Helen Moore took a trip down Weaver Street to see if locals might be interested in playing a video game set in Carrboro — because game creator Stirling Little wants to make it happen.

“Carrboro Quest is a community collaborative art project — by, about and for the people of Chapel Hill and Carrboro,” Little said.

Little graduated from UNC in May, but said he still lives in and cultivates a love for the area — though the game he is creating will poke fun at Carrboro, its residents and some of the issues facing the town.

“If I am elsewhere in the world and I say home, I mean Carrboro,” the Atlanta-native said. “I’m trying to deal with the complicated theme of being from a place and hating parts of it but loving other parts of it.”

He said he is interested in making games about experiences closer to everyday life than usual. He said he is tired of the typical games which range from disposable toys like Angry Birds to what he called “adolescent power fantasies,” like Call of Duty.

Making the game

“The initial game was gonna be navigating through an uncomfortable house party,” Little said.

We’ve all been there.

But the concept changed when Little discovered an online role-playing game called Kanye Quest — he said it wasn’t very good, but it gave him inspiration.

He said he wanted Carrboro Quest to play like Pokemon. He also wanted to aim it at non-gamers and, most importantly, to make it about the town.

In the current version of the game, players will attempt to gather their friends to watch the “sportsball” game at a local bar, Little said — but they will run into all kinds of obstacles along the way.

“Blue devils, the forces of gentrification and drunk frat bros,” Little said.

There are chapters set on Weaver Street, Franklin Street and campus.

For the locals

The idea of local is central to the project, Little said, and he didn’t know of another video game focused on being local.

“Even indie projects are meant to be blasted out geographically,” he said.

But Carrboro Quest is different.

“There are jokes you wouldn’t be able to get if you didn’t live here,” he said. “I’m not necessarily alienating people who don’t live here, but kinda.”

Little said the music in the game will come from local musicians, most notably Morning Brigade and Virgins Family Band.

He said local visual artists will produce all of the drawings. Danny Mason, who hosts Open Mic Night at The Station, may be the voiceover narrator, Little added.

Little said he is looking into ways to integrate the game with the town.

“For example, if you’re in the game at Linda’s, you can go to the real place, read a graffiti word on the wall and get help in the game,” he said.

Public opinion

Stephen Zablonski, a Carrboro resident who graduated from UNC this spring, said he was interested and would play the game. But he was confused about the plot.

“I feel like nobody wants to fight anybody in Carrboro,” he said.

Little said this is a fair point.

“I’m including more alcohol and drug use to make violence in the game more okay,” he said. “I want fist fights and monster attacks to be more cartoonish so they seem like part of everyday life.”

Michael Wood, a resident of Carrboro, was leaning against a tree on Weaver Street when he said he thought Carrboro was an “awesome” place for a game.

“There are all sorts of little quirky spots around Carrboro,” Wood said, offering up a pistachio.
But he too was confused about the game’s plot.

“What do you do, throw granola at people?”

No, but you do eat kale, Little said.

Wood said he would likely purchase the game.

“If nothing else, just to laugh at it,” he said.

Though there is not yet a tentative release date, Little said the game will run on PC at first.
It will probably not be sold, he said.

He is looking into other ways to capitalize on the project, from selling the soundtrack to some sort of agreement with the featured local businesses.

“Right now we’re all having a lot of fun with it,” Little said. “It doesn’t feel like work yet.”

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