Starting this fall Sci Fi channel is putting on the biggest game of adult tag yet. Or maybe a big manhunt. Or just a run around the town. It all depends on your mindset going into Cha$e. The show, which will have a six episode trial run starting November 11th is set up like a video game. Except this is real life, and the power-ups and enemies you encounter are just as real. Fortunately for us here for Sci-Fi’s Digital Press Event the producers didn’t have any finished video to show off. What this meant is a select few of us got to experience the game first hand.

The game is simple, just like some of the best video games. The contestants, known as Runners, are given select equipment: a backpack, an iPhone, a compass, a flashlight, and other necessary survival items. Ten of us got to play a 20 minute version of the typically 60 minute game. In essence we got to play the game stripped down to just the chase aspect. Each of us were given an iPhone and a backpack so that the Hunters (scary dudes in suits that are elite athletes in real life) could identify the players for our exercise.

First impressions as the gang all trotted off to begin the game was that this would be a fun little diversion for the afternoon. I wandered with a small band as we discussed possible strategy: mine included the tripping of teammates to leave them to the fate of the Hunters. But it wasn’t long, about a minute, when we got our first text message clue. The iPhone is the lifeline to the game, it’s where you get the info you need to gather power-ups and reach the finish line first. Our first message directed us to the first power-up available, a deflector. This handy device would make any single Hunter turn around and walk away when used. All of us were still simply walking around laughing at the silliness of doing this exercise. Then we received this message: “The first Hunter has been released.” OK, things started to get serious right about then. Now when I rounded a corner I’d stop and peek to see if a Hunter was around. I was sufficiently paranoid.

I arrived to the location of the deflector at about the same time as Derek from CHUD. A few of us wandered up behind the hotel where we waited behind some bushes and cars to see what was up. Not long after getting there a Hunter was spotted coming toward us. Naturally we went in the opposite direction. I decided that since Derek had grabbed the deflector he’d be a good partner for the time being. You know, go with the guy that has the power.

By this point a second Hunter had been released and we were cautious, but it was clear we had to move. So we went around the front of the hotel and waited. And waited some more. I was checking behind us to make sure no Hunters could surprise us when Derek yelled out, “One’s coming!” And then he ran with me right behind. We charged through a gate only to see another Hunter running along a path right above us. There was nowhere to hide, but that didn’t stop us from hunkering below as much as possible. After we were clear we went into a little sitting area where there was a concealed corner. Perfect. This could be the spot to hang out until we received the finish line clue. My height allowed me to see the top of one of the Hunter’s heads as he came by our area, but by the time I could signal Derek he’d been spotted. No fear though, he had the deflector. He used the deflector. And then another Hunter was right there. We were cornered, but it took two of them to get us.

As I mentioned the game takes place in the real world. In our case it was The Stanley Hotel. In the show itself contestants may be running around 30 blocks of downtown Los Angeles, among other landmark locations in the LA area. You’ll never know how a civilian is going to react. Runners are not only running, but playing through challenges to get power-ups or looking for bonus money. And they are trying to survive to win the $50k prize. The average person on the street won’t understand the urgency with opening a gate as you’re being chased. Trust me, I know. I ran into people who would kindly step aside or try and stop to ask me what was happening. People are naturally curious when they see someone running for their life. That’s where the real fun in watching Cha$e will come. Seeing how contestants deal with the public in their pursuit of the next power-up or grand prize.

Based on a Japanese television program I think Cha$e could be another great reality show that’s worth watching. I prefer when “reality” programming recognizes it’s all just a game, and this show is founded on the principles of gaming. Hosted by Trey Farley the Cha$ begins November 11th at 10pm EST on Sci-Fi.

Two Hunters with the winner of the contest, along with host Trey Farley and the producers of Cha$e

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