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New Attraction in China Simulates Death, Rebirth

  • Zlatica Hoke

People who wonder how it feels to die will be able to get a sense of it in China's new attraction - a death simulator called "Xinglai." The attraction offers a 2-hour session in which participants are given a life-or-death scenario and asked to choose whether to sacrifice their life or somebody else's, and explain why. The game place was set to open in Shanghai on Monday. The owner plans to hold two 2-hour sessions a day, four days a week at the price of 444 yuan per person ($68.50). The date of the launch (4-4) and price are no coincidence as the Chinese tend to link the number 4 to death.

In Shanghai's new attraction, players use a tablet to discuss who should be "killed off," "cremated" and then "resurrected" by "birth" through a latex womb chute. Participants must give explanations for their choices In a question-and-answer session.

For example, a U.S. soldier in Afghanistan and his comrade are noticed by a local herdsman who might reveal their location to the enemy. They must decide whether to kill the herdsman or let him live, and why.

Death simulator founder Ding Rui says the one chosen to "die" faces some of the same challenges that most people do before their death.

"When we do not fully understand death, saying goodbye is really quite a complicated and difficult task," said Ding Rui, Xinglai death simulator founder. "It covers various dimensions, conflicts, and even prevents you from being able to reach a decision, and you don't know what to do. This all can happen. So I came up with a premise on how to educate people on life, so when they approach death, they don't have to think about these problems constantly."

One of the first people to go through the simulated death and re-birth says the experience raised new awareness for him.

"This is a really interesting feeling," said Lu Siwei, a 33-year-old participant. "It at least gives you the chance to calm down and give in to some deeper thoughts and think about some of life's problems. /// When you walk through that door, you will experience some changes in your mentality, and it will be different from what it was before you entered. I think this is really great, and very worthwhile."

For others it can be frightening.

"At the moment when everything is completely black, the feeling was really realistic," said Ji Rouxing, a 30-year-old participant. "Especially at the beginning, when I was sitting inside that room, and the door opened, I could hear the noise inside and was a little scared, and then when I went inside, I thought it was all right."

At the end of a session, participants write down their reflections in a game survey, and have the option of writing their "last words before death." They can keep the printout as a reminder or shred it on the spot.

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