Gaming system that draws real blood suspended by Kickstarter

A gaming project that draws real blood when you take virtual damage takes a blow after Kickstarter suspends the campaign's funding.

Amanda Kooser
Freelance writer Amanda C. Kooser covers gadgets and tech news with a twist for CNET. When not wallowing in weird gear and iPad apps for cats, she can be found tinkering with her 1956 DeSoto.
Amanda Kooser
3 min read

Blood Sport controller in use
This is high-stakes gaming. Blood Sport Gaming

The blood-bank experience hasn't changed much in recent years. It involves sitting in a relatively comfy chair, getting hooked up to a blo0d-drawing machine and munching on cookies and drinking juice so you don't pass out. If that sounds way too relaxed for you, you might be interested in Blood Sport, a system that turns the act of donating blood into a competitive gaming situation. When your character in the game takes damage, the system draws blood to go into the donation bag. Rinse and repeat until you've reached your recommended donation quantity.

Blood Sport controller
Blood Sport works thanks to rumbling controllers. Blood Sport Gaming

Though the project has been active since November 18, Kickstarter just Monday suspended the campaign's funding. CNET reached out to Blood Sport to inquire as to why the project was suspended and did not immediately receive a response. Kickstarter told CNET its policy is to not comment on project suspensions.

The Blood Sport concept works thanks to a combination of a hacked Nintendo Rumble Pak gaming controller and an Arduino brain. Blood Sport takes the signal that's used to shake the controller when you get hit and re-routes it to tell the blood-collection machine when it's time to take a drink. The system could conceivably work with any gaming system that has a rumbling-style controller. Wii Blood Bowling, anyone?

The Blood Sport team envisions creating a blood-collecting multiplayer unit that could travel around and boost interest in giving blood. The current prototype of the device is designed for a single player. "It's not fun losing blood to a Non-Player Character," the project notes. The Kickstarter funding was intended to build a proper two-player system, including the purchase of two new blood-collection machines.

The project's FAQ contains a single question, which concerns how the machine is kept from drawing too much blood. This is especially pressing for people who suck at video games and anticipate taking a lot of damage. The answer is simple: the blood-drawing machine is the same kind you'll find at any official blood bank, so it's already stocked with safeguards and is monitored by a certified professional.

The technology works, but the bigger issue for Blood Sport is the funding. The Kickstarter campaign was aiming for a lofty goal of about $222,000. With 39 days left to go, it had only raised about $3,000. The pledge levels ranged from $9 (about £6, AU$11) for the chance to try Blood Sport on an intended multi-city tour, all the way up to $4,440 (about £2,830, AU$5,150) to visit the Blood Sport team's apartment to see the prototype in action and receive the code and hardware information needed to make your own.

Blood Sport is not for the squeamish. If the funding suspension sticks, then it look like it's not for the Kickstarter crowd, either. Perhaps the combination of real blood with the heart-pounding action of an intense video game is more than most people would want to deal with. After all, a lot of effort goes into making the blood donation process as relaxing and non-stressful as possible. Though it seems like Blood Sport is a long way from being realized, would you be more inclined to donate if it meant taking on a buddy in battle?