Gaming Under The Influence in Lincoln Park combines booze and video games

Kevin Fair commentates for the Lincoln Park game show, Gaming Under the Influence. The show features contestants playing video games against one another. (Erin Yarnall / The DePaulia)

Pulling up to an abandoned looking building on a street filled with empty warehouses late at night in Chicago never seems like a good idea, no matter who you are, but for avid gamers and drinkers it’s an ideal way to spend their Friday night. Instead of being home to a grisly demise for those who enter the building, it’s home to Gaming Under the Influence (GUI), a game show filmed in Lincoln Park and streamed online for free.

“GUI is really taking advantage of the internet and the way that people can be involved,” Kevin Fair, the co-commentator and brand ambassador of the show, said.

The show centers around three competitors, who play numerous video games against each other in three rounds. The first round consists of the competitors performing a beer chug to determine who plays first, while the loser sits out. The two winners then get to essentially play an updated version of the game Pong, one of the first video games ever made.

The second round starts with a game of flip cup. The players compete until they have successfully played flip cup, and as soon as they have finished, the players run to the stage to play “Crazy Ball” — a soccer video game.

Rounds continue to occur, with each player getting progressively more intoxicated the longer the game goes on.

After a dizzying amount of rounds, a winner is crowned and invited back to partake in the fun the next week.

All of this takes place in a large rented room on the sparsely populated Mendell St. in Lincoln Park filled with hand-painted graffiti, a bar and tables where guests of the show can sit and play video games before the show starts broadcasting, which they are currently fighting to keep. In order to maintain the studio, the GUI team created a GoFundMe page, where they currently have $2,725 of their $20,000 goal.

Gaming Under the Influence originally began with Jared Hoffa, the creator, host and executive producer of the show, moving the show from bar to bar and having it played out live.

Technology is crucial to the show, not only for the duration of the episode, but also in the creation of their studio.

“Before we laid a single piece of wood down, we built the studio using virtual software and viewed it in the Oculus Rift,” Hoffa said. “The whole team got to see this studio in virtual reality before we ever came here.”

The adoration the team feels for technology has inspired them in the direction they’re planning on taking the show in the future.

“People always say the future of our show should be television,” Hoffa said. “But I never want to touch television.”

Hoffa plans to continue the show, and hopefully in the future have an entire network exclusively on the Internet.

So far the show has been successful in attracting viewers and attendees. Part of this is due to the interactivity that the viewers are able to participate in.

Viewers have a say in which contestants participate in different challenges, and of course, which contestants need to chug their beer, or take extra shots of alcohol.

One of the most fun aspects of the show is that anyone over 21 can come and watch the show while it’s being filmed live, and drink for free. Many people return because they have had such fun experiences.

“You get to drink for free and cheer on the competitors,” Jasmine Vo, a Chicago resident said about what she continues to come back to Gaming Under the Influence. “It’s a fun and safe way to spend a Friday night.”