WIRED -- The concept is simple. Two players eyeball each other over a table console. The left-hand is positioned on a sensor field -- otherwise know as a PEU, or Pain Execution Unit. When both players have made this electric contact, the game, and the real fun, commences.
The game itself is based on the first-generation PC game known as Pong, or bar tennis, and is followed by both players through a graphics display in the center of the table. The player's right hand controls the bat, and the object of the game is to keep the ball in play as long as possible.
Randomly arranged along both sides of the playing field are Pain Inflictor Symbols, each representing a different sort of pain. Depending where the ball hits, the player will feel sensations such as heat, punches and electroshocks of varying duration delivered through the PEU.
The game ends only when one of the players decides that the pain is too much to bear and lifts a hand off the PEU. All of which sounds straightforward, but in truth games often continue long past the point where common sense has given way to stubborn machismo.
Given the emphasis on pain and violence, aren't they [the inventors] worried about being typecast as latter-day Marquis de Sades?
"It's easy to see why people might think we have some sort of sadistic fixation," laughed Reiff. "However, what interests us is getting the body more physically involved with technology and making it fun in the process. Where's the sadism in that?"