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iBeg, the game about homelessness 0

By Tyler Orton, 24 Hours Vancouver

As Homelessness Action Week kicks off, a local gaming studio is soliciting funds to develop a mobile game where players use virtual homeless avatars to beg for money. (PHOTO SUBMITTED)

As Homelessness Action Week kicks off, a local gaming studio is soliciting funds to develop a mobile game where players use virtual homeless avatars to beg for money. (PHOTO SUBMITTED)

A Vancouver gaming studio, hoping to capitalize on Homelessness Action Week, is developing a game depicting the life of the less fortunate through virtual avatars that beg for change and pick bottles to scrape by.

Screen grabs from the smartphone game iBeg, which has been in production since January, features avatars busking for money outside a liquor store and showering naked outdoors.

Chris Worboys, Last Pick Productions’ founder and lead designer, said he originally wanted to use HAW to start an online campaign soliciting funds for the game’s development, but missed his target by a week.

He said he expects negative backlash from people who find the game’s premise insensitive, but insists it’s being created with good intentions.

“We are not making fun of homeless, we are actually trying to help,” he said, noting a portion of proceeds from the game — scheduled for release in spring 2013 — will go towards homelessness advocacy groups.

Although a link to Covenant House Vancouver, a homeless youth outreach centre, appears on the studio’s media page, Worboys said his company has yet to hold discussions with any charitable organizations.

Union Gospel Mission spokeswoman Keela Keeping, whose organization spent Monday serving more than 3,000 meals to Vancouverites in need, said news of the game raises concerns.

“You don’t ever want somebody’s pain and somebody’s worst place to be put out there as entertainment,” she said, adding there are more fruitful means of helping some of the city’s most vulnerable, such as taking part in the Eastside Stride.

Keeping said the UGM is using Homelessness Action Week to launch free tours of the DTES running until Oct. 14.

She added the tours are designed to help people understand the community’s complexities, such as the closure of many of the region’s mental health institutions, in an effort to create practical solutions.

 

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