Monday, 19 November 2012

(No) Zombie Love

Almost a month ago I wrote that I was taking part in IRL Presents: Patient 0. Those of you paying attention and keeping track of my dates (which wouldn't be creepy at all, unless you're my wife) would be aware that my allotted time has come and gone. "But Drew, will you not review your experience?" I hear you say. Sadly, this will not be the case. You'll (and more importantly, I'll) have to wait another month or two before that can happen.

As you may be aware, this is the first time anyone in The Whole World has attempted a production like this. "This" being a live action immersive combat experience for the general public. As we expected, there were bound to be some teething issues getting it to work. Anyone who follows will have something to compare to, but IRL Shooter have nothing.

The Schedule for Patient 0 has been falling hours and hours behind since the first week of running. This has been primarily due to three things:
A feature I hope is not employed

  • People taking longer than expected.
  • Damage sustained to sets.
  • Damage sustained to weapons.
As this is the first time anyone has done this, ever, I would expect that timing was probably going to be a problem. This is because people add an inherently random element. You can tell someone that they should take about 2 hours to complete a game, but some people want to find all the easter eggs and unlock all of the achievements. Or at least poke around enough to know that there aren't any! It's difficult to allow for this kind of play, and any attempt to push people along will be very jarring.

Taking things too seriously
People have also gone into the game extremely enthusiastically and playing the part very excitedly. Apparently people have been so caught up the in realism that they have forgotten that they're using delicate instruments in a thoughtfully designed, but ultimately fake environment. There are reports of people attempting to batter down doors with the guns, resulting in damage to both. Both cost time: guns are taken out of action, meaning that two or three sets of weapons can no-longer be used simultaneously or in rotation. Obviously damage to sets needs time to be repaired.

I (and most people) initially respond to these reports by calling the offenders idiot. Of course you shouldn't batter the set with the weapons. Fools! However, I then thought to myself: this is an immersive experience. People want to behave as if they were really there,  and you don't want to burden people with abstract rules. That just makes it feel like more of a game. Obviously this has its limitations, and I don't think there's an easy solution. It's a fine line between creating that truly immersive experience, but at the same time maintain a safe, stable environment.

Not a costume...
I've heard second hand reports from some of the actors (that's "The Zombies" for us!) that sets aren't the only thing getting beat up. One actor had to take time off due to a black eye and broken rib. These may seem reasonable expectations for a zombie, but No Physical Contact is definitely a rule in this game and apparently some people have gotten to carried away to follow it. I don't want to think what would happen if the entire cast had to be taken out of the game for fear of their safety. People who cause those sorts of injuries really need to step back and remember that they're playing a game!

That said, I've heard that some of the cast have some pretty impressive stunt skills: falling down stairs, being lit on fire. That's not to say that they will do those things, but it sounds pretty cool. I'll be keen to see how it looks when I pick off a zombie half-way down some stairs.

Patient 0 is supposed to be the first in what will become a Three-Chapter story. It hopefully also marks the beginning of a new industry of immersive experiences that will continue to grow. This first time around, we have to expect difficulty and possibly a less-than-perfect product. However, we need to appreciate that this is something new, but given enough time could become something to enjoy for a while.

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