StreetWars London


by an anonymous assassin who is known only as JB

Five years ago, I spent two days in bed with the flu. My saving grace was a stream of Spooks DVDs, of which I consumed 24 episodes as I rested. The result was a bizarre paranoia as I got back to work and life – I actually convinced myself I was seeing covert activity everywhere I went.

Cut to Saturday May 31st, and I found myself again with flu, searching for a real agent in a pub in NW10, an agent who would provide me with a real agent – someone I’d be taking out with a water-based weapon arsenal. Welcome to StreetWars London 2014.

The premise is simple: I provide face and body shots (no disguises), my home and work address, my mobile number, and my email. My info is provided to another player, I get the info of a further player, and the game is on. I don’t know who is after me, and my target has no idea who I am – a heady mix of paranoia and fun. And five-hundred pounds for the eventual winners.

Back in the pub at around midnight, I’d read up on the ‘Shadow Govenment’ tweets, which made clear my contact wouldn’t be making themselves obvious. A tweet mentioned Hawaiian Bastard had run out of Lucky Strikes, so I picked up ten hoping the gift would be appreciated, which after chatting with a gent in a Hawaiian shirt, was, and got me my next directions: down Regents Canal in the dark, and on to an industrial estate to meet ‘The Supreme’ and the ‘Mustache Commander’ in a warehouse office.

At the warehouse I was offered Jim Beam from the bottle at the front door. Normally I’d say yes, but having flu, declined. “We find you quite suspicious” said the girl on the door at my unwillingness to drink, and trying to not look like a wimp offered that I was hungover… She didn’t look pleased! But, off I went upstairs to meet the Supreme and Commander.

Again, I was offered a Jim Beam, which this time I politely took – bad idea. While the Supreme and the Commander tried to engage me in a rather wonderful conversation about the etiquette of masturbation, particularly whether or not crying was appropriate before or after, I tried not to be sick. Although I did offer to try and cry/masturbate when I got home, my garbled answers made me look like a actual tosser.

Despite feeling like a fool, I got my pack with my target and headed back down the canal and onto the night bus. I got home, and spent the rest of the night being sick. Sick with flu, but slightly sick / excited by the prospect of the weeks ahead.

The game officially started on the Monday, so although there was the previous opportunity to spy on other assassins, hits had to wait. The game lasts three weeks, sudden death in week four, and elimination on failure to take out two targets in the first fortnight – the stakes are high.

My week started slowly, and I quickly realised I suck at being a spy. Obviously I can’t give any info on my target as the game is still on, but I worked out what their job was, and figured out a likely pattern for their working hours. However, trying to make contact with someone who has a complex career choice would be difficult.

I also realised that I was a sitting duck. It’s easy to work out from my work website what I do, and as I run a department, very easy to make enquiries as to when I’m working. You can also see me working at certain times of the day – might as well have a target on my forehead! But the rules state I cannot be soaked at work, or the block I work on – step into the street however, and I’m fair game.

The most interesting element of the game is awareness and paranoia, which I really enjoyed. The process for leaving my flat involved checking the street from my balcony (great vista for spying and to be spied on), leaving the gate with hood up and right hand armed with my discreet mini super-soaker, and a careful dash to the canal where I’m sure I’m safe. Whereas most people use some sort of transport to get to work, I walk, and I can mix up the route – no being caught at the tube station for me. Ditto for the journey home.

I found myself eyeing up many people as my potential assassin, and in some cases making an unnecessary run for it, but it’s exciting, and I’m experiencing my day in a whole new way. I even thought I’d spotted my guy hiding next to a bike shed next to my place, and given him the slip.

Then the phone calls started. Colleagues mentioned various names of guys who had called to speak to me, one a ‘Mr Smith’, and another who hung up when I went to speak to him. What was funny was that my colleagues had no idea, apart from one who realises what’s going on – feeling super paranoid, but in a good way.

My efforts in tracking my target were not so smooth. I work shifts, and missed the best opportunities to stakeout their work, but I had two really fun sessions where I stalked their building at times when I knew they’d be working, alas to no avail. My target was specific enough for me to see them from a distance, but their place of work enormous, with multiple exits (similar to mine), so I decided home was the best place. I had the road name, but not the number, so the plan was a stakeout with my sister in her car – ideal cover.

Sadly for me, I let my guard down. On the Friday morning, running late for work, I made the dash to the canal, but had to make a phone call to a colleague. Someone called my name from the bus stop, I realised what was about to happen and no time to reach my weapon – wetted in the chest, out of the game – damn.

My assassin was charming, they’d been at my work, seen me, and got my shifts from colleagues. I’d actually given them the slip a number of times, so I’d lasted longer than I perhaps should have.

Despite the disappointment, and feeling a bit stupid, I was quite relieved. Relieved to not have to look over my shoulder, but disappointed at my failure as a spy – I guess it’s not my calling, my terrible concentration span smoked me out.

I’ll still be following the game, and I’ll be interested to go along to the ‘Drinks for the Dead’ to hear the experiences of those obviously stealthier than me. All in all, I loved being in what felt like a real life video game. StreetWars rocks!

Game Ends June 28th, 2014

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