Walking the Canadian Heritage Museum of Warplane in Hamilton, Bob Middleton, 97, still has a spring in his stride and a quick sense of humor.
Help veterans of World War II inspire a new video game based on air warfare and the Lancaster bombers he once flew in. Not that he plays video games himself.
He said proudly: “Nothing.” “Computers to work with!”
Last week, Middleton was invited to the museum for a trip aboard the Lancaster – one of only two famous heavy bombers still in operation.
In April 1942, Middleton graduated early from Danforth College in Toronto and joined the Royal Canadian Air Force. He was 18 years old. Middleton went on to become a navigator after completing his training in Canada and Britain, and was eventually sent to Croft, Yorkshire.
“It was known as the Seal Squadron,” Middleton said in an interview. “Going to chop means being dropped. You are no longer.”
Although many of his fellow pilots did not return, Middleton successfully completed 33 missions. They were extremely dangerous, flying large bombers over Europe to attack heavily guarded enemy targets.
A gritty effort video game
Those horrific flights that shape history will be what players experience Big effort, Created before Hamilton-based developer is Andrew Sprin MicroProse Canada.
While it started as an independent project, Big effort It will be included in the next release of the popular B-17 flying fortress Series.
Watch | Bob Middleton talks about his experiences in World War II
Sprin, who served in the Army himself and volunteers for the museum, arranged a trip on Lancaster to collect photos, videos and inspiration for the game.
“We definitely want to capture what it was like in those tight spaces, in the dark, the lights flickering, and at the same time, what the cooperation with your crew was like,” Sprin told CBC Toronto.
Sprin learned about Middleton through the museum and as he was organizing the flight, he decided to invite the veteran pilot along. The game elements are based on Middleton’s own experience.
“Bob Middleton is one of the few veterans still out there who can provide us with sound advice about what it was like in reality,” Sprin said.
“To be able to look into Bob’s eye and hear his voice, and see what it really was like, that’s the most value I could find.”
Reality is important to Sprin and not just the quality of the gameplay. While not looking to charm what Middleton and other veterans have gone through, Spearin wants players to feel the realities of war.
“If we want to photograph real people, real airplanes, and real events, then we have a responsibility to get the authenticity right,” he said.
As video games advance, there is hope for that Big effort It will help the younger generations to understand the sacrifices of veterans.
It will include a virtual reality flight simulator. Part of the game will follow the training program that Middleton and other RCAF veterans took on.
“The more kids that watch this game, when it comes out, the better for all of us,” said Leon Evans, chief aviator at the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum.
“We cannot forget these veterans.”
Playing virtual war games on screen might seem a little strange to Middleton. But he, too, sees the value in that.
With fewer veterans among us, the younger generations will have to relate to the past in other ways. And even if it’s video games, Middleton wants them to learn from it.
“They don’t understand what happened. People your age signed the dotted line: I am paying the mortgage with my life.” It’s hard to understand. “