For those looking to get a little more perspective into the hit Netflix series Squid Game, you can now experience it in real life — without having to get blood on your hands.
Immersive Gamebox and Netflix teamed up to create a virtual Squid Game experience, which will debut in New York on Wednesday and open in other cities across the world in the following weeks. Immersive Gameboxes are "smart" rooms, with touch screen walls and the ability to detect motion.
"We've got a 60-minute format with challenges within those 60 minutes, and that is exactly what you're about to play today," said Dalia Goldgor, Immersive Gamebox general manager. "A bunch of challenges. People will die. It will be a stressful but a ton of fun."
I recruited Cheddar News senior producer Chloe Aiello, senior field producer Chris Castellino, executive producer Conor White and line producer Kara Fellows to partake in the games with me. I had been warned that the games would be physical and to wear our best sneakers and workout clothing, advice I promptly forgot to follow myself.
"Alright, let's have a good game," I said as I tried to rally the troops. "Let's try not to murder everyone too much. Everyone hands in. Don't die on three!"
Immersive Gamebox's Squid Game challenge is similar to the show. It is broken up into six different physical activities. Your team of up to six people is given 456 lives. Each time you fail a task, your team loses a life and money from the prize pot. Complete a task successfully in record time and you get bonus money.
"You may not be friends after the game," Goldgor said "You might very possibly try to push each other in order to get eliminated, but you're still working as a team to help save all the players that are within the Squid Game universe."
The first task is based on the Red Light, Green Light game, where you try to advance to a target and stop moving if the doll in front is looking at you. The sensors were extremely sensitive to any movement, which made the task much more difficult. However, we were playing a beta version of the game before it was officially released to the public, so some of our experience was being used for feedback for the final version of the game.
Other challenges included tracing out shapes where your body acts as the controller, based on the dalgona game in the series. There's a modified version of tug-of-war which relies on rhythm, and a memory game-inspired activity that is loosely tied into the glass steps task in the show.
The marbles game was close to playing a basic version of pinball, except it made use of the touch screen walls. Each activity had little explanation and required a very quick learning curve, making it all the more fun.
While head-to-head competition is always great, it actually made more sense to work together to get a higher score.
"We all have our strengths and weaknesses, and it's the most important that we all, you know, learn to play as a team," Castellino said.
At the end, the game did reveal who did best and who was bringing the team down. Aiello, who hasn't watched Squid Game, actually came out on top, probably thanks to her training as a ballerina. White, who binge-watched the entire series in two days before we played the IRL version, fared the worst. It also revealed that if push came to shove, we knew who we'd want to ally with at work to stay alive.
"To survive I'm gonna have to go with Chloe, just because, I mean, the stats don't lie," Fellows said.