The abandoned town of Pripyat in northern Soviet Ukraine is quiet and haunting. Animals roam free and nature has overtaken buildings since the disaster at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in 1986. Ukraine marked the 33rd anniversary on Friday.
Developers are bringing the ghost town to life in a computer game called Isotopium: Chernobyl. In the game, players drive tanks around Pripyat, fighting competitors, and searching for isotopium, an energy source. It costs $9 to play and 20 people can play at a time.
Instead of a basic virtual world, players are controlling a real robot equipped with a camera and a computer that drives around a model of Pripyat that's rendered to the "tiniest detail," Reuters reported Friday. So far, over 60,000 people have reportedly signed up to play since the game launched in October.
The game's developer Sergey Beskrestnov and his partner Alexey Fateyev used Google Maps and pictures of Chernobyl to create the game and well-known landmarks like Pripyat's buildings, hotels, concert hall, amusement park and stadium. The game's real-scale model is reportedly located in a 1900 square foot basement 93 miles from the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone.
Beskrestnov wasn't immediately available for comment but told Reuters that players "don't believe it's not fictional."
The meltdown at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant resulted in approximately 28 immediate deaths and 15 indirect deaths in the years afterward. The disaster forced 50,000 people, included Beskrestnov's family, to flee their homes. HBO is releasing a mini-series next month about this disaster called Chernobyl.