Video games are getting more realistic every day. Upcoming games like Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End promise graphics that are closer to becoming indistinguishable from real life. Virtual reality headsets like the Oculus Rift and Sony’s Project Morpheus are poised to bring fully-immersive gaming experiences into living rooms across the country.
But maybe that’s still not enough. Enter Blood Sport, the new gaming peripheral being Kickstarted by creators Jamie Umpherson and Taran Chadha. Their pitch: what if, when you bled in a game, you also bled in real life?
Blood Sport works by hooking into a controller’s rumble motor. Whenever the controller shakes, a medical-grade blood collection device kicks in, drawing the player’s blood into sterilized bags. The worse a player performs, the more blood they lose.
It’s a shocking and controversial idea, yet Umpherson and Chadha seem fully committed. They already have a single player prototype working; the Kickstarter funds will go towards creating a two-player version and an associated charity tour. The device thankfully isn’t actually for sale to consumers; only one unit will be produced, which will then be sent to clinics around Canada for a series of “blood collection gaming events.” Right now, the tour’s scheduled to kick off on March 17, right around the time that Battlefield: Hardline comes out.
Ostensibly this is all for charity, although the Kickstarter campaign focuses much more on how “hardcore” the idea is. The pitch video opens with images of digital characters covered in blood, while Umpherson crows about “raising the stakes of gaming.” The page challenges gaming and pop-culture celebrities to show “they can handle” Blood Sport by participating in blood-collection matches.
Even the end of the video, which addresses Canada’s blood shortage, implores viewers to “grab your buddies, go down to your local donor clinic, and see who gets dizzy first.” That’s… not really how blood collection works.
Of course, Umpherson and Chadha aren’t strangers to sensationalist media projects designed to both create controversy and raise awareness. Previous projects from the duo include “Shoot the Banker,” in which people can shoot an investment banker with paintballs via webcam, and “Surrogaid,” a fake charity that asks women to “donate motherhood.”
The tone of the Kickstarter might be off-putting, but blood donation is a big deal, and questionable methods ultimately don’t undercut the importance of the cause. However, there’s another, unintended side-effect of the pitch: knowing that one of the players is actually bleeding out makes gameplay footage feel infinitely more graphic. Those who are already squeamish about violence in video games are advised to stay far, far away.