Video Game Instruction Manual Accidentally Causes Evacuation At New Jersey Church

Stock photo of a church roof
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Since the early ’90s — when the medium reached a new level of graphical fidelity — video games have often sparked panic and controversy.

Doom, which was released in 1993 and is widely considered to be one of the most influential games of all time, came under fire when it came to light that Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold — the two students behind the infamous Columbine High School massacre — played the game in their spare time. Over the past two decades, the Grand Theft Auto franchise has similarly sparked controversy, due to the series’ focus on violent gameplay and sexual mini-games.

Earlier today, another video game caused widespread panic for one New Jersey church, but not in the way you might think.

As reported by Jersey Shore Online, panic broke out at a Howell Township church after a suspicious manual was found. Shortly after 10 a.m., the Howell Township Police received a call from the St. William The Abbott Church, explaining that the entire congregation had evacuated the building after finding the aforementioned manual.

Detective Sergeant John Lopez recounted the actions taken by local law enforcement.

“Explosive seeking dogs from the Monmouth County Sheriff’s Office responded and cleared the building as well as surrounding property,” Lopez told Jersey Shore Online. “There were no threats or suspicious packages located on the premise.”

It turns out that the suspicious-looking manual was for the bomb disposal game Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes. Released in 2015 by Steel Crate Games, the social video game tasks one player with defusing a bomb. The catch is, said player does not have a bomb disposal manual on hand.

Instead, the game must be played with multiple people in the same room — one player focuses their attention on the screen, relaying information to one or more other players, who need to sit off to the side, away from the TV screen. This side group uses the bomb disposal manual (which can be found online) to instruct the lone player how to defuse the bomb.

Needless to say, the manual is chock-full of diagrams, charts, ciphers, and patterns that provide players with critical data. The manual’s subject matter and diagrams seem to have caused panic at St. William The Abbott Church — as explained by a Facebook post shared by Jersey Shore Online — and prompted a call to local law enforcement.

At the time of writing, Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes developer Steel Crate Games has yet to respond to the accidental church evacuation.