Monday, August 10, 2015

ScareLA 2015 : Were You Wearing Your Z Detector?

LA's most famous local haunts for Halloween and the goodies to get your haunted house nice and foreboding was the perfect climate for a game of "Apocalypse." By paying the nominal fee of $10 you were given a Z Detector and sent on a quest in the Scare LA convention hall to either live cursed with immortality or become the walking undead, y'know a zombie. "Red means dead, " we were told as a friend and I dared to get the multiple pieces of the formula within the two hours of the time line or end up hungry for human flesh.

This would not be possible without an LED indicator pin, the Z Detector, thought up from Gantom Lightning & Controls, one of the vendors of Scare LA. That was where most of thought of the game went into as the rest had very little theatrics even with the help of Reel Guise's cosplayers who didn't do much more than stand around in groups of zombies or a prepared picture of the first season of The Walking Dead.

This concept that needs minor improvements with tech and hiring some actors to interact with the audience all stems around the simple yet ingenious Z Detector. And I give full credit to Gantom for getting $10 of my money for having a pin that lets me play a real time game on top of walking halls of horror. The Z Detector indicates your health in the game. Green is great, yellow and your not so mellow. Red, as was said, means your dead, as in the un-living dead. Z Detectors interact with each other, so if you're a zombie or "red" you can infect others. Eating away at their health whenever you get too close to them. To combat this healers, indicated by "white" can be discovered that will heal those suffering from zombie attacks.

The darn things detectors are neat too. I used it later at a DJ battle/rave the same night and got no questions and as I walked Pasadena at night in search of food that wasn't brains, burgers.

Our mission inside, using the Z Detectors, was to visit different areas to collect parts of a formula that would cure us of any zombification. It would also leave us immortal, going back to the little effort of more than a SyFy Channel movie that was put into the overall story. We were each given a map indicating where to go with booth numbers and a letter on the back explaining what happened.

Now from a marketing stand point it made us visit those booths. Only one made us like them on Facebook...I'm just un-liking them now. Those booths were both brought to our attention when they might not have been. Some had us coming closer in than others to a mini- antennae device that was broadcasting the formula signal. Our Z Detectors would rainbow wheel to indicate we got a piece of the formula, telling us to move on to our next location. Gaining a piece of the formula heals you too.

There were already some tricks to the game while playing, like bouncing off a heal  signal at a booth back and forth between two badges to put you a full health.

Our interactions with the cosplayers intended to lower our health or heal us was nominal to nothing. We got most of our health or sadly, ...I don't know how to write this... my undoing, from those who already played the game.

When you're finished with the game, you either become a healer or a zombie. This adds another element to the game, social interaction with the community and strangers. For gamers, yes you could literally add a healer to your party on this quest.

On another level, boobs. Either not foreseen or possibly foreseen, ladies wore their Z Detectors where anyone normally would. Sometimes range on Z Detectors has to be somewhat close. So no need to explain any further.

Dying wouldn't have been so bad if I had seen it coming. Possibly I was in a "Poison Gas" area, an area that hurts your health. Or zombies snuck up on me while I was interviewing people. I was a zombie now. I was the undead. Now too infect.

Hastily rushing over to some new players I said hello and placed my Z Detector to theirs. It changed color. What fun!

The game makes retired players keep playing and nothing feels quite as nice as either hurting or healing someone.

The game can even pause as indicated by a blue light on the device, which happened in a section of the Scare LA intended to be off limits for the game. My friend and I's devices could not un-pause and this did require us to go back to the main booth.

My colleague on our quest visited all booths in time making us head back out to where we purchased our badges. Our scores were taken in on paper (?), not very high tech, while our scores were indicated on a science-fiction looking device, high-tech. Prizes or to be randomly drawn some day for all those who played.

He became a healer, cursed to walk the Earth forever with immortality. I now, also cursed, but with the hunger for brains.

What a fun evening with a charming device. We met knew people, infected some, made some run from us. The applications of this tech  have yet to be truly explored. In what I've seen, it yes, easily  could be argued as an app on cell phones. As I haven't heard of or played anything similar it's a nice start that I hope to see at more events in LA and abroad. Hired actors that do things other than stand, a bit of fanfare at the start and end. That's all that's needed.

So were you wearing one? How did your quest go wearing a Z Detector?