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Street/Urban Wear Expert

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Tekken Torture Tournament

There was an old "Nightmare on Elm Street" where the urban belief was introduced to us that "if you die in your dream, you die in real life". But let's forget about dreams for a minute and think about death in virtual reality and the landscape of a video game. As long as violence in videogames has been a concern with parents all over America, it's a wonder that something like the "Tekken Torture Tournament" didn't come along a lot sooner. C-Level Labs, a group of artists and programmers, put on the "Tekken Torture Tournament" and was started in part by UCSD's own ICAM professor, Eddo Stern. The simple idea behind the whole event is the juxtaposition of violence and pain in the virtual environment of Tekken, the fighting videogame, and the human's ability to feel pain and act aggressively.

The place where the event was held was in a basement in an alley behind the back of a restaurant in Chinatown, Los Angeles. This delivered the feel of a sort of "Fight Club" for gamers and art nerds alike and gave the place a pseudo-serious air. The room was lit in red and was pretty barren other than a few benches and mats, a plethora of bottles of water, a large projector screen with two TV sets on the sides showing the players in the full frontal view, the game console and two chairs on a small riser for the players. This is all very intimidating on first view.

The game console, jokingly called the "Playstation III", is rigged to a PSG-Max, which delivers a non-lethal 9-volt shock thru Velcro armbands that are strapped to each player's right arm (above and below the elbow). While playing Tekken, the more injury each player receives, the more shock pulses the PSG-Max delivers to the arm, thus causing it to contract. One player claimed that the shocks felt good and Eddo responded, "Oh yeah? Does it turn you on?". On the converse, there were others letting out yelps, curses or even screams at each shock and it was quite curious to see their arms momentarily frozen in distorted positions. The audience definitely vocally participated with "ooh's" and "ahh's" and cheers and laughs and somewhere lost amidst all this noise, the shrieks from the player being shocked were heard. Under the assumption that a lot of Tekken gamer freaks were going to show up, the event actually gave a lot of "newbies" an experience they will never forget. The guy that won the event used a tricky character, Gan (a Pokemon looking reptile),and beat out everyone because his character was so short and players had a hard time getting at him. Although it was proven that the game was pretty easy to everyone through a serious of vigorous random button pushing, Tekken is much more difficult than Street Fighter or Mortal Kombat.

Upon hearing about this event, many people laugh or are taken aback that such a thing could even happen. With a release form, the technology and willing participants, the event was truly a success. For the contenders and the audience it perhaps re-contextualized violence in videogames as they all reacted to the hits differently because actual pain was being executed. It would not be surprising if Pavlov's Theory of Conditioning applied for the players for future Tekken games or that there are massive requests to C-Level Labs to build the console for anxious consumers. The "Tekken Torture Tournament" served as a very interactive event that involved a lot of first time players and true gamers in a very unique way.

For More Info on Upcoming Events by C-Level Labs: Visit


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