At a warehouse in Oakland, Calif., Saturday night, video gamers get shot in the face with fire--but it was all in the name of fun. The fun, in this case, was an evening of Dance Dance Immolation. DDI> is derived from Dance Dance Revolution, the popular video game that tests players' dance moves and is being incorporated into middle school physical education programs. DDI, however, combines the movements with flamethrowers--needless to say, it's for grown-ups only.
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Standing on custom-built platforms before a 30-foot screen, contestants can hit a giant red panic button on their individual console if they get freaked out by the flames.

The projector screen is outfitted with three fire launchers. Also in the playing area are flamethrowers aimed at the two dance pads, and customized open-source Stepmania software to run it all.

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Because of the risks involved, Dance Dance Immolation's crew can take several hours setting up to ensure the safety of the players and the precision of the equipment.
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The neck skirt shown here proves the cliche that necessity is the mother of invention. Without the collar, fire can leap up under the chin. The leather guard is designed to keep the helmet flaps tucked in and form a barrier that prevents players from getting singed.
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Several safeguards are in place. One is the game itself: if a built-in sensor detects an airflow problem in the suit, custom-made software brings everything to a screeching halt until the crew fixes the problem.
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Contestants wear heavy-duty fire proximity suits complemented by air tubes, a helmet, face mask and headphones. They can hear the game's music and receive commands--and constant derision--from the control team.
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The cost of failure: a fiery bath. Success garners nothing but a sweaty proximity suit and the unending adulation of the crowd, if not the rapier-tongued emcee.
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