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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
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 www.c-level.cc/tekken