‘We Are Chicago’ Attempts to Show Gamers the Trials of Living in Violence-Plagued City


We Are Chicago by Culture Shock Games seeks to depict the truth of a city drowning in its own blood in an effort to stanch the flow.

762 murders were committed in Chicago in 2016, and 2017 isn’t looking any better. President Trump tweeted that the violence is “totally out of control,” exclaiming, “Chicago needs help!” following the shooting deaths of seven people in one day in February.

The developers at Culture Shock Games are trying to do their part to help with We Are Chicago, what they hope is an affecting interactive walk in the shoes of fictional Chicago youth Aaron Davis.

Aaron is a high school senior with a younger sister and a single mom. He is also a citizen of Chicago’s dangerous streets, and his journey asks the player to navigate a world in which deadly violence is a daily reality. Whether it is the sound of gunfire at dinner or Aaron’s friend holding up the fast food joint where he works, players are confronted with uncomfortably realistic scenarios that represent snapshots from the lives of real people.

Based on interviews with residents, We Are Chicago draws its inspiration from the reality of life in the Windy City. Aaron struggles to avoid the influence of gangs — a support structure that tempts many desperate urban youths with the promise of security, community, and income when jobs are scarce — while navigating family life and the demands of school.

The game released in February, but it has had a rough go on the Steam marketplace. Despite its thought-provoking mission, players have noted a host of technical issues that detract from the experience — or even make it outright unplayable. It also isn’t very long — about the length of a single chapter in the Telltale adventure games, whose influence We Are Chicago wears on its sleeve.

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