A video game that hits back

Meet virtual enemies who can actually hurt you


Gamers are fetishists for realism. Hundreds of millions of dollars are spent every year developing virtual worlds into ever more realistic simulations of our own. Every follicle of hair, every machine gun blast, every enemy’s cry for mercy is noodled and tweaked by engineers and artists for maximum verisimilitude. The first-person shooter genre seems particularly obsessed with realism–gamers want to actually feel like they’re fighting in every way. Well, in almost every way–the one aspect of war that developers have never shown much interest in recreating is pain. That, though, may soon change.

The Gadget Show, a surprisingly well-resourced program on the U.K.’s Channel 5, recently built and documented what is perhaps the world’s most realistic battle simulator, complete with virtual enemies that can actually hurt you–via real-life paintball guns. Here’s a video of it: It’s all worth watching, but the heavy action comes around 9:30.

While this is all very technically impressive, what I find most interesting is that host Jason Bradbury genuinely seems to enjoy getting shot. Unless Bradbury is faking it (or just is into that sort of thing) the possibility of pain seems to radically amp up his sense of immersion. His fear seems real, as does his elation. The pain-game seems fun, and I kinda want to try it.

So is this the future of gaming? And if we set off in this direction, will gamers need ever higher levels of pain to get their kicks?

I shudder to think.

Jesse Brown is the host of TVO.org’s Search Engine podcast. He is on Twitter @jessebrown


A video game that hits back

  1. Okay,,,,this is totally cool!

    The hosts are waaaay too gushy for my tastes, and I couldn’t take much of them….but luckily it gets right into the tech, which is great.

    Holodeck in the making….thanks for posting this!

  2. Holy crap. The adrenalin rush from paintball would pale in comparison to this. 

    • Maybe.  Maybe not.

      No matter how realistic this simulator is, a machine in a room firing a paintball at you while you look at a computer image of someone firing an assault rifle at you, while running on a treadmill is still less “real” than an actual human being firing a paintball at you while you run in an actual forest.

      Still looks hella cool though!

  3. Why go to all that bother.
    Pop down to the local CF recruiting office and sign on the dotted line.
    Or would that be not virtual enough for you?

    • I’d bet that a fair number of things I’ve done virtually while playing Call of Duty would get me kicked out of the Canadian Forces right quick.

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