Author Archives: Christine

Haunted Toronto: The R5 Team Walks with the Ghosts (again)

To celebrate the week of Halloween, Rocket 5 went on another ghost tour- this time through our home-base, Toronto. Muddy York Walking Tours leads ghost walks through the city, and we chose one called ‘The Ghosts of the University of Toronto.’ Being a current student at U of T, I was pretty excited to hear more about the ghost stories I already knew and also to learn more of the university’s creepy secrets. It was exciting to be taking a tour of a place we were familiar with, too. While my usual inclination would be to seek out new places for research and inspiration, it was fun to play the tourist and hear about the cool stories lurking within our own city.

Cathy, creepin' outside the ROM.

Cathy, creepin’ outside the ROM.

In the early stages of the Phantom PI, we took a lot of inspiration from famous hauntings all around the world, but were especially eager to track down local stories. Now that we’ve come so far with the game, it was really cool to go back and re-live some of that research by getting up close and personal with Toronto’s ghosts.

I’ve been asked by our tour guide not to give away too many details about the walk, so it’s still a surprise for any new tour-goers. Instead, here are a few teasers…

Scaaary     

The campus (which has always reminded me of Hogwarts) really is the perfect place for a haunted walk, especially at night. Our caped tour guide led us by some familiar buildings and shared some not-so-familiar scary tales- I was surprised by all the campus ghost stories I’d never heard of. I definitely have my favourites of the night, but I don’t want to give too much away.

The creepy laughing face at UC. Take the tour to learn why he's laughing.

The creepy laughing face at UC. Take the tour to learn why he’s laughing.

Trinity and University College both have their own ghosts (see, more and more like Hogwarts), though perhaps the more famous is UC’s Reznikoff. A disastrous love-triangle led to his murder, and his bones were discovered in the tower years later, though many students claimed the ghost came to them to explain his tragic circumstances before his remains were found. I’ve had classes in UC for nearly five years now and I’ve yet to see anything ghostly, but the building definitely has a creepy atmosphere and I wouldn’t want to be there all alone at night.

That's an AXE mark in the door. Seriously. "Heeere's Johnny!"

That’s an AXE mark in the door. Seriously. “Heeere’s Johnny!”

We learned a few new things about the city, including that there was once a women’s mental hospital (then called the University Lunatic Asylum) where the Ontario Legislative Building now sits. Stories of the ghosts of former patients are terrifying (with creepy names like The Maiden and The Hanging Woman), but nothing makes your skin crawl like imagining the actual conditions those women faced in the hospital.

We also talked about the Christie Mansion, which was of particular interest to me because I’d researched the ghost stories associated with the Christies quite a bit. An early character idea for the Phantom PI came out of that research, and it was very exciting to revisit those stories and hear some things that hadn’t been covered by my voracious Google searches. The internet is an awesome resource for any storyteller, but nothing compares to hearing the story in person and peeking through the windows of a supposedly haunted house, looking for ghostly activity.

Learning about Torontonian ghosts was fantastic. Visiting new places and hearing totally unfamiliar stories is great, but there’s something special about learning new secrets about a place you visit every day. The city is always a great inspiration to us, especially its lovely old buildings and sometimes creepy history, and it was cool to re-live our earlier research and learn a few new things. The Muddy York Walking Tours Company gets a Rocket 5 stamp of approval, and we hope to go on another of their many (and I mean MANY) ghost tours.

Once again, I invite you to share some creepy ghost stories in the comments, especially if they take place in Toronto or on Halloween (extra points if it happened both in Toronto AND on Halloween). I hope everyone had a terrifying Halloween, and as a bonus, here’s a picture of OUR Halloween costumes:

Happy Halloween from Marshall, Famke and Cecil!

Happy Halloween from Marshall, Famke and Cecil!

Why We Walk: The 2013 Scotiabank AIDS Walk for Life

This weekend, the Rocket 5 Studios crew teamed up with some of our friends to do the Scotiabank AIDS Walk for Life. The walk, organized by the AIDS Committee of Toronto (ACT), raises money every year to support people living with, affected by, or at risk for HIV/AIDS. Rocket 5 decided joining the walk would be a great experience for our team.

The Rocket 5 Team!

The Rocket 5 Team!

And it was! The community fair on Church Street was great, and energy and enthusiasm were high among the walkers. We cheered our way through most of the walk route. Not only that, but as a team, we managed to EXCEED our fundraising goal. We raised $330 to help support all the great work ACT does in Toronto.

Also, we were interviewed by CP24!

Also, we were interviewed by CP24!

We had a great time getting together with each other and the community, but we also learned a lot about HIV/AIDS and where the money raised by the walk goes.

About 25% of Canadians infected with HIV/AIDS don’t know that they’re infected. Prevention means giving people the facts about HIV/AIDS, how you can get it, and how to go about getting tested. For people living with HIV/AIDS, resources like proper housing, counselling, peer support, meal delivery programs, and job counselling are extremely important. ACT works to provide all of these things and more.

Stigma is still a huge issue facing people affected by HIV/AIDS, too. Walk Chair Shaun Proulx talked about stigma more eloquently than I ever could when he publicly disclosed his HIV-positive status this year. I totally suggest reading his article.

The walk was a really great experience for us. We learned a lot. Thank you so much to everyone who supported and/or donated to us this year to help us reach our goal!

Team2

We also realize that even though the walk is over for this year, the fight is still going on. Thank you to everyone who’s fighting that fight.

Research Rocks: Rocket 5 does a ghost tour of Kingston

This week, Rocket 5 ventured into Kingston to do a little research for our upcoming game, “The Phantom P.I.” Kingston’s Haunted Walks Inc. offers walking tours of the city, sending you out with a cloaked tour guide that shows you Kingston’s ghostly landmarks. With a horror game in the works, we figured we needed all the scares we could find, so we signed up for TWO of these tours, a move which the woman at the main office actually advised me against (“too spooky,” she said).

Preparing for a spooky evening.

Preparing for a spooky evening.

Our first tour was The Original Ghost Walk of Kingston, a walk through the downtown starting at the Prince George Hotel. While this walk wasn’t exactly terrifying, there were a couple hair-raising stories to be found and tons of inspiration for a team of hopeful game-makers turned ghost-hunters.

One of my favourite stories was about the Resurrectionists, a group of grave robbers in the late 1800s who dug up bodies so they could sell them to medical students from Queen’s. At the time, students were required to provide their own cadavers. As you would expect, it wasn’t easy to acquire a DEAD PERSON legally, so students were forced to get creative (unless, I guess, they were lucky enough that someone they knew died). It was common practice to buy a corpse off the Resurrectionists… unless you were brave enough to dig one up yourself.

Kingston also seems to have an abundance of haunted inns. We visited several on our walk, but my two favourites were the Hochelaga Inn, which is haunted by a little boy that watches you sleep, and the Rosemount Inn, which is haunted by an old lady who is suspected to be a former resident. The old lady digs through guests’ luggage, looking for the possessions she left behind in her house (sounds a little like the ghosts in our game, eh?) You can stay at either of these inns if you’re the kind of person that doesn’t like sleeping.

The Haunted Rosemount Inn

The Haunted Rosemount Inn

We also visited a parking lot built over the corpses of hanged men, a church haunted by a dead organist, and added Skeleton Park to our list of future adventures. It was an awesome tour, but it wasn’t exceptionally scary. It definitely didn’t prepare us for our visit to Fort Henry.

Fort Henry was first built during the War of 1812, but the structure that exists now was built in the 1830s to protect the naval dockyard at Point Frederick. The fort is open for tours during the day, but that’s not nearly creepy enough for us. We opted for the ghost tour instead, which started at 11PM.

Fort Henry

Finding our tour group was a perilous journey, which leads me to believe it was some kind of initiation to see if we could handle the Fort Henry experience. We passed (maybe just barely), and walked up to the gates to find that our tour would consist of only 6 people, including the tour guide. In fact, we were the only people at Fort Henry at all except for a security guard. It was like the set up for a horror movie.

Cathy, posing like the fabulous man in the creepy portrait (a humorous prelude to the spooky tales to come).

Cathy, posing like the fabulous man in the creepy portrait (a humorous prelude to the spooky tales to come).

We first toured the dry ditch, a precaution to keep out invading forces (if they survived the deadly drop into the ditch, they would then be showered with gunfire from several directions). Fort Henry was never actually attacked, which is possibly a testament to the quality of its defenses, but it still has reason to be crawling with ghosts. Accidents, harsh weather conditions, hangings- the fort had no shortage of ugly deaths. We were told to keep our eyes open the whole trip for the fort’s Wandering Ghost. I spent a lot of time psyching myself up and staring into the darkness, but I didn’t see him.

Stairs     Hallway

We toured tunnels and swirling staircases, tight enough to make anyone feel claustrophobic. We visited the bakery, infamous for poltergeist activity, and walked through a room that allegedly makes any children who enter it violently ill.

For me, one of the most horrific stories was probably about one of the men hanged at Fort Henry (there were many). He didn’t die on the first drop, so the executioner dropped him again- and then three more times until he was finally dead. If anyone has reason to haunt Fort Henry, it’s that guy.

It’s hard to say if we truly had any ghostly experiences. We didn’t see any ghosts, but even the bravest among us were a little freaked out when we heard footsteps echoing down the hall, though we were pretty sure all our own feet were still.

IMG_6046

Touring Fort Henry in the middle of the night was amazing. Touring the downtown was awesome and interesting, too, but if you can only do one tour, I would recommend Fort Henry. Both tours gave us a few good scares and a LOT of great inspiration for the game (which, by the way, is looking AWESOME!) It’s a challenge to make a game scary without getting carried away, but I think the subtle, footsteps-down-the-hall scary is usually more hard-hitting than the dropped-from-the-gallows-five-times scary… though I do enjoy a gruesome tale on occasion.

If you have a ghost walk or ghost encounter experience, we’d love to hear about it in the comments. Happy haunting, everyone!

Ghostly Figures

Rocket 5 At Bit Bazaar

Bit Bazaar IconIt’s that awesome time of year again- the Toronto Comic Arts Festival (TCAF) is back! As if that wasn’t exciting enough, Rocket 5 will be participating in an event called Bit Bazaar, which is being put on by Bento Miso as a part of TCAF’s Comics VS Games 2.

On Saturday, May 11 from 12-8PM, Rocket 5 will be at Bit Bazaar promoting our upcoming game, code-named “Ghost Hunter.” A demo of the game will be available for you to play. Rocket 5’s game Get the Orb (GTO) will also be available to play. At our table, you can pre-order a copy of Ghost Hunter (working title), as well as purchase some awesome Rocket 5 and game-related merchandise.

In addition to pre-orders of our upcoming game, we will be selling buttons, stickers, t-shirts, chocolates, delicious baked goods, and adorable needle-felted creatures & moustaches! Here’s a little sample of some of the merch that will be available at our table:

Stickers and buttons!

Bit Bazaar starts at noon on May 11th and will take place at 862 Richmond Street West. Entry is free! We will be there alongside many other awesome game developers, so come out and see us! Happy TCAF!