Video game comes alive in Holt

Stalkers Dottie Dellamorte (left) and Dako Morfey, clad in Ukrainian military uniforms, pause during a recent military simulation. (Photo Chernobyl MILSIM)

Live-action role-play event draws mutants and more 

HOLT, Fla., Jan. 17, 2021—A horde of mutants will invade Holt beginning Friday afternoon and continuing through the weekend.

However, they’ll be contained as armed and trained stalkers converge to prevent the mutants from escaping “the Zone.”

That might not mean much to the average resident, but for fans of “S.T.A.L.K.E.R.,” a series of first-person-shooter survival video games and of military simulations—known as MILSIM—and live-action role play, or LARP, the event will be an opportunity to completely immerse themselves into the game.

S.T.A.L.K.E.R. stands for scavengers, trespassers, adventurers, loners, killers, explorers and robbers.

“We’re providing a live-action video game,” said Dako Morfey, co-founder of Chernobyl MILSIM, the event’s New Orleans-based producer. “For the entire weekend, you don’t just play the game. You live it.” 

Holt School is the setting for “the Meadow,” an original scenario based on the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. game world. The school will be set up as “the Zone” within the scenario.

Inspired by the real-life Chernobyl Exclusion Zone, the center of the site of the April 1986 nuclear power plant disaster in the Ukraine, the Zone is the heart of the video game series.

Live-action role play

“The game is considered a MILSIM, but we consider it more of a live action role play with guns and explosives,” said Morfey, who’s known in his MILSIM universe as Father Dako, leader of the faction known as Monolith.

For the Jan. 22-24 live-action role play, a back-story on the registration site explains that “the neutral Monolith, a fanatical religious cult violent to all but their own, has been driven out of Darkscape by the stalkers and have set up in the old factory offices in the Meadow.”

Due to yet another Chernobyl radiation escape, “there are few safe areas anymore and exposure to the contaminated zones causes instant zombification.”

Participants are part of an investigation expedition into the Zone where they will spend the entire weekend in costume and persona.

“We invite anyone to join the team venturing into the old factory and help them figure out what to do with these Monolith deserters,” Morfey said. “Players will experience a totally unique opportunity to live the video game in real time.”

Organizers promise “conflict between factions, robberies (and) betrayal.”

Cost for a full-player ticket is $100 per person. For $40 per person, participants can be zombies who occasionally attack the stalkers. Tickets are available online. Uniforms and equipment for the stalkers, and zombie attire for the mutants, per the video game, are required to participate.

Players will have access only to rations available in the video game during this non-stop event. They’ll make camp and take turns guarding it from potential threats day and night.

“They must beware of booby traps, mutants and even their KIA (killed in action) comrades turning into gun-wielding zombies,” Morfey said.

And organizers have some other surprises up their camouflaged sleeves, he said.

Ukraine in the 2010s

With the action set in the Ukraine in 2014, participants bring their own Ukrainian, Russian or Soviet-bloc uniforms, purchased from online military surplus stores and eBay. Chernobyl MILSIM’s website describes the various factions’ uniforms and equipment and provides links to online sources to buy them.

Morfey and his staff pay particular attention to weapons and ammunition at registration. While previous Chernobyl MILSIM events allowed Airsoft weapons, only blanks are permitted at “the Meadow.”

“We want this to be an exciting, challenging event,” he said, “but also a safe one.”

Weapons, uniforms and other equipment are available for rent, and blank ammo can be purchased at registration.

Brian Hughes
(Holt Enterprise News contributed to this story)

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