Most of us play video games by furiously thumbing a console or hurling a Wii around the living room. But not Drew Hobbs and Zoe Tame. The prefer to play games with flesh and blood. Literally. They are the team behind IRL Shooter and they stage real life video games that you can physically play, level-up and win.
IRL's first event Patient Zero: Melbourne remains the biggest crowdfunded venture in Australian history. It was played in a 7000sqm warehouse meticulously converted into an abandoned underground medical facility with over 200 non-player character (ahem.... zombies) radio communications and more. Now as they get set to mount an even bigger game in Sydney the team have added even more advanced infrared weapons and electrical “pain belts”.
The Mk.2 is IRL’s 2nd generation gun, an upgrade from the one they ran in the first version of the game. It’s reasonably close to the weight of a Colt M4 rifle and fires with a gas-powered recoil that replicates about 80% of the real recoil of a weapon of this nature. They’ve also replicated the process of reloading. You have to expel the empty clip and put in another – which is kind of stressful with 20 zombies bearing down on you. The weapons are also capable of affecting the building environment itself. You can ‘shoot out’ lights for example, if you want to employ stealth tactics in certain parts of the facility.
But far more notable this time round are the Pain Belts. It’s basically like strapping a cattle prod to your chest. It gets triggered by proximity to the zombies, misfires from your home team or by the game designers if you behave like a douche. There's seven settings and the impressive thing is the contractions you get from the electrical pulses actually do replicate a feeling of impact. And when I say ‘impressive’, please understand I actually mean “fundamentally awful”.