"Mother of dragons."
On Twitter, Sacriel describes himself as a fulltime gamer, Livestreamer, Youtuber and sniper fanatic. On video, however, he's just a pair of worried eyes fenced in by a ghillie suit. His on-screen persona weaves behind a snow-limned tree even as he takes sight.
The hilly, monochromatic expanse is devoid of anything but vegetation and shadows. It's quiet. Too quiet. The silence, interrupted only by his own movements, isn't a personable one but hangs instead like a knife-riddled blanket. Sacriel tells his viewers, between expletive-laced outbursts, that his heart is pounding. There are two reasons for this. The first is that DayZ is not your typical shooter. When a bullet embeds itself in your brain pan, you won't be treated to a re-enactment of your death as you wait to respawn. When you die in Day Z, it's lights out.
Movement. A silhouette flits across the distance. Sacriel yelps and throws himself into cover. His cursing multiplies as another figure cuts through the tree line. Sacriel takes one of his enemies down: a 300m kill rendered with a garden-variety Lee-Enfield rifle. It's a ballsy move, all things taken into consideration. DayZ players nicknamed the Lee-Enfield 'Dinner Bell' for a reason. If there are any zombies within the vicinity, they will soon converge on his location, ready to make his life that much more complicated. But Sacriel has no choice.
Here is the second reason: Should Sacriel die now, he will lose everything. His partner would have died in vain, his team removed from the annals of the Survivor Game Z.
Click. Sacriel reloads.
The Survivor GameZ is a grassroots DayZ tournament with all the pageantry of the Hunger Games and the psychopathic intensity of Battle Royale. First held in August 2012, it's a free-for-all competition comprised of several different phrases, each designed to force players into ever constricting spaces. The objective is simple: be the last team standing.
Or the last man standing, if you prefer.
“I've never thought of it, “ ShannonZKiller, who is a talent scout for the event, remarks when asked if a competitor would be penalized if they decided to murder their partner in cold blood. “We've never encountered that because it would be semi-suicide but technically, they'd be allowed to.”
This is DayZ in a nutshell. Where such treachery would be viewed as a horrific anathema elsewhere, it's merely a demonstration of impractical behavior here, an act most would steer away from for no other reason than it might shorten one's continued good health. In Dean Hall's post-apocalyptic ode to Lord of the Flies, human life is frequently of less value than a can of beans. People will shoot you just because they think it's funny. Yet, without such flippant brutality, the acts of selflessness that occasionally transpire would be far less poignant.
A popular Livestreamer herself, Shannon explains how Sacriel's partner Fred died. After healing Sacriel with the only bandage he had (all participants are given a single healing item in the beginning), Fred eventually found himself beset by zombies before being summarily executed by Larzi, the 'devilish sniper of Namalsk'. Sacriel went on to place fourth out of thirty two players.
"The most beautiful part of it all? Even though [Sacriel] was called MvP by many of the viewers that night, he declared on his stream the next day that Fred was the real MvP. He said that if weren't for Fred sacrificing both himself and his bandage, things wouldn't have been what they were."
"That's why a two-player team makes the event so enticing." Shannon explains.
The similarities between the Survivor GameZ and the Hunger Games are undeniable. Much of the event feels structured to be a televised extravaganza which is, all said and done, a useful thing given the considerable following it has acquired on Twitch. Unlike most other competitive FPS events, there is a loose narrative thread holding the disparate phrases together: an outbreak in Taviana has caused the military to take drastic measures and an evacuation helicopter some distance away is the only way out of this already dangerous landscape. If players make the mistake of remaining within the quarantine zone for too long, they will be gunned down - just like in real life. Immersion is enforced in other ways as well. Should players die, they are then forced to disconnect from the game immediately and the remaining team member must then proceed alone. Those looking to hail other teams are required to do so via in-game means; any attempts to communicate via Teamspeak will result in immediate disqualification.
"The next event will be very interesting because there are some rather big names brought on who have never competed before. They may have a totally unique experience/approach.".
According to Shannon, the semi-finals will take place at the end of this month. The finals themselves will be held on August 17th. Those looking to participate in the Survivor Gamez won't have long to wait for an opportunity to present itself, however. The next season ofSurvivor GameZ is scheduled to commence around October or November.