During my day spent with Professor Steve Furnell, the good professor told me about all sorts of interesting projects that clamber out of the University of Plymouth’s Digital Art & Technology programme. Here is one I just have to share. Behold, the ShockCube, described as “an engaging game environment featuring haptic pain feedback”.

Yes, that’s right, the players receive electric shocks if they lose. Plus there’s a form of negative score embedded in the system: the pain level gets cranked up every time a player loses. It sounds like the Milgram experiment to me, except for real.

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9 thoughts on “ShockCube

  1. There’s more info on the site (distinguished by a lack of updates) but basically there are a few simple games on there like Rock Paper Scissors. You lose, you get shocked. Next time you lose, you get shocked some more. See the note on “The Incrementer”.

    There are ten levels of shocks.

  2. I think a lot of people (including myself) have wanted to see this to some degree.

    There’s just something so exciting about the prospect. My brother and I used to play rock-paper-scissors with the added rule that the loser would get slapped. The pain level increased mostly because we both got less worried about slapping the more we did it, alongside the repeated slaps to the face adding up.

  3. gnome, I think we’re on the same page here =) It didn’t sound like my cup of Afternoon Tea when Steve Furnell told me about it. But as BeamSplashX says – there is definitely a market for it, a project for the more youthful amongst us I think.

  4. Nice video production!

    Some other takes on the same core idea:

    There’s PainStation (2001), which not only shocks, but also burns and whips: http://www.painstation.de/

    PainStation is on display at the Computerspielemuseum in Berlin (which I highly recommend) if you ever want to try it. The game is basically Pong, with a number of simple twists. But you don’t get points by scoring. You get points whenever you take a shot of pain. This sets up a weird tension between the Pong rules and the endurance test. Still not quite sure what I think about it.

    Also in 2001, Eddo Stern staged Tekken Torture Tournament:

    The ShockCube games definitely look more polished than those projects (which were primarily situated in an art world context), but I’m not sure I believe that the core idea is actually so commercialize-able.

    Regardless, would love to try the game!

  5. Hi Doug! I wasn’t going to share this originally (I expunged it from the interview with Furnell), but the video was too cool to pass up. Yeah, I didn’t look too much into the history of Pain Games and it’s interesting to hear there’s a precedent for this sort of Decadent Gaming Behaviour.

    Is it possible [legal?] to sell something whose explicit entertainment purpose is pain? Well, I guess you can buy whips for, uh, parties and stuff.

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