Birmingham game developer hopes interactive film helps steer youngsters away from gang violence
ITV News Central Presenter Pablo Taylor reports on the man behind the app in the fight against youth violence
An anti-knife crime campaigner from Birmingham is hoping that a new interactive film could be used in the fight against youth violence.
Luke Cato, who is also a game developer, has created ‘It’s on You’, which puts users in the shoes of a promising young footballer being lured into a life of crime.
At certain points, viewers are required to make decisions which impact the outcome of the story.
Luke, who is CEO of the youth crime prevention company Real Direction, says the decision to make the film was inspired by his own experiences growing up in inner-city Birmingham.
He said: "Where I’m from, inner city Birmingham, Handsworth, it was the makeup of everything that I was seeing around me. Things that I’ve experienced, things that peers have experienced, family have experienced. It’s just a reflection of life really."
What happens on the game?
It’s on You tells the story of Curtis, a promising young footballer who has a chance to secure a professional contract in America.
But, his best friend, Carl, is involved in a life of crime and expects Curtis to stay local to him, when tension with a rival gang flares up.
The interactive film is downloaded as an app, allowing the user to take control of Curtis’ phone and decide how to respond to messages.
When the film resumes, viewers also have to make in-play choices, which impact the storyline.
Simon Seymour-Carby, the actor who plays Curtis, says the film 'emphasises the importance of staying focused on your ambitions.'
He added: “This can be a reality check for anyone who does have that opportunity. Don’t blow it. This is something you can do, even for people watching if you want to get into acting or something like that. If you’ve got an opportunity just stick with it and try not to veer off course.”
Social media plays a huge part in the film, with much of the tension between rival groups communicated through online posts.
The film’s creator says social media isn’t to blame for the increase in youth violence but says it can be a dangerous tool.
“You only have to post one thing and you’ve lost control of your comment and next thing you know you’re in a situation you didn’t think you would be in so that was very crucial to me in this whole journey to make sure that that stood out.”
How is 'It's on You' being used?
It’s on You’ is now being used as a tool by professionals to guide young people away from violence.
Anthony Pryce, a youth mentor said: “A lot of youth that I’ve worked with have been in a situation where they’ve been asked to carry a knife or they’ve been in a situation where they’ve had to make a choice ‘Do I pick this knife up and go for that person or do I go about it a different way. And I think a lot of people as I said earlier, can relate to the actual game.”
Luke Cato admits a lot more needs to be done to tackle the root cause of youth violence, but is hopeful his movie will make people think a bit more about the impact of their choices.