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.
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.
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.
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.