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Microsoft's Xbox survival stunt brings us one step closer to the Hunger Games

Graeme Boyd

I always thought it would be income inequality and a technocratic elite that would drag this world into a Hunger Games-style scenario, but what if our coming future dystopia is just a PR stunt that's gotten out of hand? I wouldn't have believed it until I saw Microsoft strap eight people onto a billboard in the middle of London for 24 hours, aim snow-cannons at them and live-stream the whole affair on Twitch. And why? All to promote the new Tomb Raider game coming out on the Xbox One.

it was basically a battle of bladder control

The "survival billboard" stunt kicked off yesterday at 1PM local time (8AM ET), and ended earlier today. Looking at the press photos from last night everyone looked rather cheery, wearing black jumpsuits and matching crash helmets like they were on an adventure holiday. But checking in this morning, there had been a distinct change of mood. There were just three contestants left, the snow cannons were blowing hard, and The Verge's international team was arguing in Slack over who would be liable if someone died. And the prize for all this hardship, to be awarded to the last person standing? "A trip inspired by Tomb Raider." This is pretty vague, especially as any holiday inspired by Lara Croft's travels would mean two days of pleasant sightseeing before waking up in your hotel room to find a cult member trying to stab you in the neck.

Viewers on the live stream had been able to vote on what sort of weather conditions the contestants would face. They were already putting up with the London cold, and were then subjected to rain and snow on top of that. One of the early casualties, Jade Jolie, even claimed she was removed by the medics because she had hypothermia.

This morning, though, a winner was declared: 28-year-old Adam Carr, or "T" as he had been rechristened in the fires of this brave new world. As he was left alone on the billboard he shouted in exhaustion: "Are you not entertained? Are you not entertained?"