The Serial podcast, despite being the number one podcast in the U.S, has raised some concerns from those who feel that the retelling of the story is insensitive to the family of Hae Lee, the 1999 murder victim around who the story centers. Now imagine the outrage as someone attempts to turn the real-life murder into a game.

Sarah Koenig, the presenter of the podcast, has spoken of Lee’s family refusing to have contact with her, and she speaks of respecting that, and trying to tell the story in a respectful way, while still seeking to determine if Adnan Syed, convicted for the murder, is truly innocent. The podcast was also suggested by a Syed family friend, who hopes to help Adnan prove his innocence.

Thanks to the podcast, though, others have picked up the story and attempted to develop interest in it in their own ways. For one fan, this has resulted in an attempt to crowdsource answers to the murder, and to turn it into a game. The current iteration of the website is what you see below, and clicking to get early access invites you to submit an email address to be notified when the ‘game’ is ready.

The ‘game’ already has a Facebook page as well, though there’s almost no content yet.

The Serial Podcast has its own sub on Reddit, which is devoted to much the same thing: users pick apart bits of testimony, share photos, discuss evidence, and discuss Koenig’s presentation of it. However, there are rules on the sub out of respect, both to the Serial Podcast, and to the real people involved in the case. For instance, last names are not used on the sub.

Remember that these are real people with real lives. We do not support doxxing or harassment towards any of the people mentioned in Serial, or any users and posters in this subreddit. If we see personal information posted, including links to Facebook, personal addresses, or contact information, your comment will be deleted. Repeated offenders will be banned.

It’s here that the idea of a ‘game’ developed from the murder case was floated, and quickly shot down. (Update: A moderator of the Serial subreddit would like it to be clear that the sub was not behind the game, nor does the sub approve or endorse it.) Calling it the CrowdMurder Game, user pain_perdu explained that the website would be a place for fans to come together and crowdsource answers to the mysteries surrounding the fifteen-year-old case.

The creator promised that every document and other piece of evidence publicly available in the case would be published on the site, and invited users to sign up for early access. He was quickly warned off by numerous posters, though: unlike the Serial podcast, which attempts to convey the story with the gravity due, turning it into a game would be highly offensive to the people involved.

After many explanations of the problems with the site and game, the creator posted an apology, suggesting he’d find a way to present the information, and the crowdsourcing, that would be less offensive and less likely to reopen wounds.

Thank you for your clear and logical feedback. My objective in experimenting with this positioning of the concept in this way was to foster the message that exploring legal documents and audio files doesn’t need to be boring or dull. My goal is to motivate large numbers of people to work together to find the truth and potentially exonerate wrongly-imprisoned people. By using provocative language and the word ‘game’ in this version of the experiment I thought I might make it more interesting but instead I have clearly made it offensive and dis-respectful which was not my intention.
Thanks again for helping me with this, the whole project is not easy and I’m sorry that I made a mistake with this part, I hope to learn from it and ensure future drafts of the website idea reflect the serious emotional real-life nature of homicide and its impact on people.

Though the debate is still open about whether the Serial podcast itself is disrespectful, it seems that on the CrowdMurder game, the verdict is in.

[photo credit: muffin-purper-gurk ]