Hi. My name isn’t very important in this case, but most people know me around the net as infernodemon2005, or just demon for short. Anyway, I am writing this to inform you all about a new virus circulating the net. I know, this may seem like those spam e-mail messages telling you to “watch out,” or “don’t open this message,” but I assure you this is not the case. Maybe we should start with how I discovered this new virus… One day, a friend of mine sent me an e-mail asking me to check out this new game she found. The message contained a link pointing me to a very strange web page with screenshots of a game that kind of resembled Unreal Tournament or Quake III Arena.
The page showed the game was called "V-ARENA" and was advertised to be very similar in spirit to old school arcade arena shooters from the mid to late 90's. I initially thought the V stood for virtual, but I was later proven very wrong. It was written very clearly, not like these suspicious websites people always get creepy pasta files from. I paid very close attention to these details as I have recently become a very avid reader of many scary stories. The site had links with typical subsections describing the opponents, weapons, and the single stage available in the current build of the game. The only things I saw on this site that may have given me any remote reason for alarm were some of the character names, “CHAINfire, DELETa, and BLUSkREEN were the ones listed on the site. I didn’t think too much of it since I know both Unreal Tournament and Quake III had some unusual codenames for the rivals, but I did think the strange capitalization errors in the names were a bit off.
Despite this, I decided to check out the game anyway. I love games like this even though I’m not always the greatest at them. I usually end up getting myself slaughtered unless it’s a 1v1 match. I clicked the download link and was surprised to find the game was about 2 GB in size. This was a little strange to me since there was only one map listed on the website, and I’ve downloaded enough games to be able to roughly estimate the size of a game based on the information given to me. Either way, I completed the long download and prepared to start up the game.
After I finished the download, I opened the downloaded archive to find several game files including a ReadMe, and all the usual linked files and folders containing art assets, music, sounds, and other things needed for the game to run. There was no standard install instructions found except to extract the game to a folder on the C Drive, so I created a new folder and copied the files from the archive into the folder. After doing this, I scanned the entire folder with both Avast anti-virus as well as CLAM-AV. Nothing at all came up, so I knew it had to be safe.
I sat back in my chair, double clicked VARENA.exe, and prepared to get into some old school arena shooter action. The title screen was black with blue letters. The font was one of those cool slanting fonts that are wider at the bottom than at the top. The only difference here is that instead of saying V-Arena or Virtual Arena (as I initially thought,) the title read “VIRAL ARENA.”
This was a little strange to me, but for some reason, I didn’t stop. Common sense was screaming into my ear telling me to shut this thing off and delete it right now, but since my two prior virus scans came back empty, I didn’t think anything could go wrong.
The game began playing an action demo behind the title as games of this type usually do. I looked at the demo for a few seconds and saw the video quality was amazing and figured I didn’t need to take a trip to the nicely presented button labeled “OPTIONS.” I instead just clicked play. The next screen was a difficulty setting list. The settings ranged from level 1 being titled “You’re safe;” to level 9 with the sub-title “all hope is lost.” Each difficulty setting was accompanied by a tooltip showing how each one affected the game. The first few settings would give you more lives, increased health and armor maximums, and strangely enough, reduce the maximum enemies you had to deal with at once. The higher levels would reduce player stats, and increase the number of enemies in each wave with level 9 essentially leaving the player vulnerable to what appeared to be 2-3 shot kills, 1 life, and all opponents gunning for you at once.
The goal of the game seemed to be to defeat all other arena opponents without losing all your lives. As I mentioned earlier, I am not the greatest at games like this so I chose difficulty level 3, “duel.” This setting gave me 10 lives to deal with the game’s rivals in a 1v1 fashion. This suited me just fine. The 150 starting health and 100 starting armor was a nice bonus, but this was the highest level that stuck to 1v1 fights.
The single arena level loaded, looking quite a bit smaller than it did in the screenshots. I figured the level was randomly generated based on your difficulty selection. I thought this concept was sort of cool. Anyway, my first opponent was an older looking guy with the codename “POPs”. I found this somewhat ironic and amusing. The old guy seemed to have a trick up his sleeve though as he seemed to teleport around the arena at times. Still, he was a bit slow and easy to defeat.
After POPs, I had about a minute to run through the arena and refill my health and ammo from the supply crates. During this time, I was able to get a better look at the arena itself. This particular arena was a circular room with round pillars scattered throughout as a means of cover. I also noticed in-game advertisements dotting the walls. I thought this was somewhat interesting as I knew about the secret message on the terminals In the Unreal Tournament series. I found it even more strange that the advertisements were for things I’d searched Amazon and eBay for in the past couple of days.
After my short run for supplies, the next opponent made themselves known. It was a blonde haired female codenamed “SCREECH.” This character seemed to have an innate sonic attack. She would run in close and scream. It was a little frightening the first time it happened, making me jump. Worse though is the pain clearly visible in her eyes every time she screamed. The scream would leave me paralyzed and unable to move for a few seconds. She took every opportunity to riddle me full of bullets after screaming at me. I lost a life to her, but soon figured out that if I backed away while she was screaming, I could reduce the effects. I took the strategy of keeping distance between us at all times.
After the second round, I was given yet another supply run. This time however, I noticed the arena changing as I ran. Weapons and pickups were changed around a bit and the advertisements were removed from the monitors. There was a new image shown on them now, but I didn’t have enough time to study it. I had to prepare. I found a new weapon placed nicely in the center of this altered arena. I picked it up finding it to be a laser rifle of some kind.
After my second supply run, I was treated to a deep announcer’s voice stating “Tier 1 champion: CHAINfire.” This guy had some crazy firing rates. He could even rapid fire the rocket launcher. He also managed to strip me of one of my remaining lives. As my character fell, I saw him standing over my body laughing maniacally. This freaked me out a bit as games like this don’t normally have this much AI personality. I forgot to mention one thing about this game, when losing a life, the enemy does not immediately get full health or stamina, but they do have a few seconds to run and grab some armor or med kits from the arena. They have about as much time as you have between fights. Anyway, I eventually dropped him to zero hp.
After this fight, the announcer asked me to stand on the glowing portal in the center of the room. Upon positioning my character over the glowing tile, the camera pulled back to a 3rd person view showing my character being teleported away. The next screen allowed me to choose one of 3 perks: teleporting, stun scream, or rapid fire. I thought it was cool that I could choose a perk from my previous string of opponents. Since I had the biggest trouble dealing with rapid fire, I figured that one would help me the most in the next round. I was also awarded an extra attempt for defeating POPs without dying.
The next map looked completely different. Now I understood why the game was 2GB. There was more than one arena. This arena was a multi-tiered structure with a staircase at either end of a square room. The upper level was nothing more than a square platform that ran the perimeter of the square room below with a whole in the center so you could jump back down to the bottom level. This room had more of a “lost temple” vibe to it. The walls were made of stone bricks and I saw carvings set into the stone. Most of this information was gathered after my first fight though as I was immediately dropped in against my next opponent.
It turned out I was going to fight a black clothed male the game called “HAX.” He entered the arena staring at a sheet of paper for a few seconds while muttering something under his breath. I was able to get in close enough to catch his words before the fight started. I had no idea the game scans my computer until HAX listed off my computer’s full system specs before smiling. The last thing he said before beginning the fight was “I’m really going to have some fun with this computer…” This battle was my toughest yet. He seemed to have better aim than anyone before. All of his shots were dead accurate, stripping another life away from me. I did manage to finish him off in the end.
After the usual supply run, I was challenged with a robotic opponent very uncreatively named “BOT.” This metal monster was extremely aggressive, firing shots almost the moment he had a lock on me. This didn’t feel as challenging as the last fight despite my loss of another precious life. His end came swiftly once I figured out he had a pattern to his movement around the arena.
If this was anything like the last arena, I knew I was in for a bigger challenge at the champion fight, and yet again, I was in for another arena evolution. This one didn’t start until I jumped down to the lower level. The stairways sealed shut, and many pillars and low walls were raised around me. I was unsure, but I could have sworn I saw a robed figure on the upper level moving as if he or she was directing the changes. It was so quick that I had no time to confirm my suspicions. I just wrote it off and prepped for the champion.
The tier 2 champ was announced to be “DELETa.” This was another female character. This one had sort of an oriental appearance, as well as a small gun constantly in her left hand. I found out very quickly what that other gun was used for. It fired a laser like projectile which removed any arena structure it came into contact with. This includes the floor and outer walls. I lost a life as the beam struck the floor beneath me causing me to fall into oblivion. The second life DELETa drained away from me happened when I was caught in a pillar as it re-spawned back into the arena. She almost took a third life through simply draining my health from standard weapons fire, but I finished her off with only 5 of my own hp remaining. Throughout the fight, she kept making comments about how everything has an end and it was my time to be deleted. These comments disturbed me. The personalities in this game seemed to be getting more disturbing with every rank.
Her death prompted another glowing portal for me to stand in. I was ready for another perk to help me in the next round. This time, I could choose an auto-fire, an aiming bot, or the deletion ray. Because of the insane skill required to properly use the deletion ray, and the fact that I would probably use it to accidentally suicide, I chose the aim assistance. I found it strange the game was actually giving me such a broken ability. In fact, most games of this type strongly discourage players from using aim bots. Aim bots automatically adjust the crosshairs to focus on any target in the player’s field of view. I didn’t get any extra lives this time around leaving me to tackle tier 3 with only 5 lives.
The third arena was much darker than the previous two, being set on a space station. The surface was uneven and there were several holes in the ground. Similarly to other games of this type, if you fall in, you’re dead. The floor was a cold metal grey, and there was the occasional star in the background. The first match of tier 3 set me up against “CRASH.”
CRASH was a large muscular male character. He used a combination of melee strikes and very high powered explosives. For some reason though, he would not try to push me into the holes, preferring to kill me outright. He had increased defense making it harder for me to drain his health. His explosives were also more powerful than normal, causing me to die when I carelessly ran across a string of mines. He fell to my own explosives shortly after that little incident.
“BURN” was announced as my second tier 3 opponent. I was faced with another female opponent. Burn wore red and orange. Her skin looked like she crawled out of a fireplace, blackened and covered in ashes. Her hair was a brilliant red and I thought I saw a fire in her eyes. She kept screaming about how she “burned them all,” and how she would do the same to me. This was one of the darkest personalities I’d seen yet and found it slightly more unnerving than DELETa talking about deleting me. I didn’t exactly feel like burning alive. She carried a flame cannon with two attack modes. The first was a large widespread stream of fire which could very quickly drain both my health and armor. The second was a fireball which was usually aimed at my feet, leaving behind a nice little flair that stuck around for a while and could cause fire damage if I ran through it later. I slipped up while dodging a fire stream and sent myself plummeting off into the blackness of space. This was the only life I lost in this battle, finishing the fight after the fall. I kept my distance so as not to incur the fiery wrath of the stream again, making the fight much easier.
Now it was time for the champion, and with only 3 lives left, I was sweating a little. I wanted to beat this game, and I knew I was close. This time, I know I saw the robed figure. He appeared in the center of the arena, he seemed to have a lowing blue energy around him. As the arena re-arranged itself, I ran in closer to get a better look at the figure. He resembled a priest from some sort of dark cult. The black robes and pentacle symbol on the front creeped me out slightly. He looked directly at my character stating “good luck, and may the goddess watch over you” before disappearing into a blue mist.
For some reason, I was given a few extra seconds to study this arena. The arena was now just simply one large circle. There were no cover points, so my only hope was just to keep moving. Thankfully, there were no holes either. I probably would not have made it through this if there were holes in the floor.
“Tier 3 champion, BLUSkREEN,” I heard the announcer say as a blue light descended on the other side of the circle. The light was a familiar shade of blue. I know I’ve seen it several places before but can’t quite put my finger on it. He was strangely silent as he ran around the arena. It seemed though that sounds in a certain radius around me were amplified and, making me wonder what was going to be so special about this fight. I soon found out as a blue flash covered my screen leaving only my HUD visible for about 15 seconds. I did not see where the flash came from, but I didn’t have to in order to know the truth. This was his power. Blinding opponents with a “blue wave” as I will call it. This tactic drained two of my remaining three lives from me before I was able to master finding him by sound. Sound is something I don’t normally pay attention to in these old arena shooters, but that has all changed now.
After his defeat, another glowing circle appeared. I figured the game would end once I stepped on it, but I was sadly mistaken. Instead, I was given the choice of super explosives, flame cannon, or blue wave device as one final perk before what I would later find was the hardest and final challenge of the game. I chose the flame cannon simply because I thought it looked awesome. Thinking back on it though, I should have taken the blue wave machine for reasons I will detail in a moment.
The area of this final challenge was a bright heavenly looking arena with more holes in the ground. There were several cover objects as well as many health and armor pickups. There was also one power-up that hadn’t appeared anywhere else in the game. It was a pair of wings allowing for about a minute of free flight around the arena. The wings would re-spawn 30 seconds after the time limit expired. I had to learn this in order to survive this insane final battle.
The fight was against a female opponent known only as “GODDESS” She seemed to take every trait I didn’t have. Yes, this is why I should have taken the blue wave machine. On top of this, I was down to my last life. If I lost here, it was game over. She slowly descended into the arena from above, bathed in a bright silvery light.
“Welcome James.” She actually used my name… I was completely shocked by this point, but I then remembered the stories about how other programs were able to pull it from my user account. This could not be possible however; I used my screen name as my windows log on. My real name was nowhere on my computer. “Are you truly worthy of standing before me? Or will your time on this earth end at my hand. Only time and your skill will tell.”
The battle began faster than I could react. Her first attack was a direct hit. I quickly ran around the arena trying my hardest to avoid GODDESS’ shots and stay out of the holes. She grabbed the wings first which seemed to last forever on her. I don’t know how I was able to stay on the field with the blue waves blinding me frequently and the fact that these pits weren’t blocked off. I eventually learned the timings of the wings and stayed on top of them for the rest of the fight. GODDESS started with 500 health and shields. It took forever to whittle that down to a more manageable number. I had to race around the arena grabbing every health and armor pickup just to stay alive. The flame cannon weapon was very useful in this fight. If I could pin her in a corner, I could wipe away 200 armor in a matter of seconds.
The fight dragged on for about 30 minutes. I frantically ran around the arena constantly near death while trying to keep her from getting any power-ups at all. I needed every advantage I could get. Once I got her down under 100 hp, the arena lost its heavenly feel, instead becoming a rapidly changing hellish landscape. This time though, both of us received permanent wings to finish the fight with. This was helpful as I don’t think I could have done it from the ground, as new holes were opening and closing constantly. On top of this, flame jets would occasionally fly from the holes damaging whoever got too close. Her speed in the last half of this fight made things very difficult, but the auto-aim perk worked wonders. I quickly finished her off, but not before being drained to having exactly 1hp myself. After she hit zero, she tried flying directly for me for what seemed like a suicide attack. I narrowly dodged the resulting explosion just barely coming out on top.
After this, a glowing spherical portal appeared in the center of the quickly dilapidating arena. I rushed for it avoiding all the hazards that were quickly appearing between where I was and there. Upon reaching the portal, I was greeted with a congratulatory message stating that I have completed the game at level 3 and my records would be sent to the development team to help them improve the game even further.
I had such a rush after completing that game. I saw now why my friend sent me the link. I was still in a state of high adrenaline from completing it that I didn’t realize the window had closed and I was returned to my desktop. My wallpaper was replaced by a picture of the GODDESS in her heavenly winged form in the heavenly arena. I kind of thought this was a cool treat for completing the game so I didn’t mind. It was cool, unique, and now I had it to show my friends what I had accomplished. There was an image on my desktop labeled VICtTORY.jpg which was just a copy of the same picture. All other traces of this game were gone though. I searched my entire computer but couldn’t even find the folder I created to hold the game’s files. The archive I had downloaded had disappeared as well. I tried visiting the web page again, but was met with a message.
You have completed VIRAL ARENA and are safe from all ill effects. Your name has been placed on our hall of fame page for all to see. Keep the picture as a sign of your victory over our little game. If you wish to play again, you must do so at a higher difficulty. You must also personally request a direct download of a customized version of our game from our dev team. To do so, send an email to dev@*.*”
I have purposely omitted the name of this web site to protect innocent people from getting curious and screwing things up for themselves. I was still curious about how the game itself, and now the developer’s web site had used my real name instead of my screen name.
I then went to Facebook to find my friend was online. I messaged her asking about the link she sent me. Here’s a transcript of the conversation.
Me: I enjoyed the game
Friend: Which game?
Me: the one you e-mailed me about, V-ARENA.
Friend: I don’t remember sending out any emails about it.
Me: hmmm that’s strange… have you ever seen it before?
Friend: Yeah, it was amazing. Wish I could play it again but it’s gone and the site tells me that they won’t let me download it anymore.
Me: So, how far did you get?
Friend: I tried playing on level 5. It was dead in the middle so I figured it was normal difficulty. I got owned by CHAINfire. After that, the game closed and my background was replaced by “GAME OVER” in the same font as the title screen.
Me: interesting. Was there anything else about the web page when you went back?
Friend: Yeah, they thanked me for sharing the game with my friends, but as I said, I don’t remember emailing anyone about the game.
Shortly after this, I started getting messages and e-mails talking about this game. My friend also started telling me she was getting more messages about it. The ones I was getting were from our mutual friends and acquaintances. They were complaining about problems that could have easily been caused by standard malware programs, but they all said the same thing. These problems started after they played V-Arena.
Research and FindingsEdit
After a few days of more complaints coming in, I began to suspect something. I decided to see if I could find more information about V-Arena. Lots of searching and a couple hours later, I stumbled on a forum where people who had found the game and played it were discussing their own stories.
On the forum I found a thread where people were trying to compile the malicious effects of each character. Below are the known results.
POPs: an insane number of popups and error messages continue to spam the user.
SCREECH: loud static and popping sounds would be emitted from the computer speakers at random intervals regardless of what the windows volume settings were at. Physically turning off your speakers does stop the sound however.
CHAINfire: an email is automatically sent from every email account you have to everyone in the address book for each individual account informing them about the game.
HAX: people who lost to HAX report strange occurrences on their machines including new files and folders being created, online accounts being hacked, as well as personal data being deleted. It seems that if HAX wins, an unknown hacker has complete access to your machine and can do whatever they want with it except for turn it on. You can remove this machine from the internet and be fine however.
BOT: This installs a bot program on the user’s machine. This program has a similar effect to CHAINfire as well as HAX, without the mysterious file occurrences that happen with HAX
DELETa: random files are deleted from the machine. In some rare cases, the windows or System32 directories could be removed, but mostly this occurrence is limited to user or program files. It seems that the higher difficulties have a greater chance for system files to be affected by this.
CRASH: no one is certain as to the nature of this issue, but it seems the driver data for the primary hard disk drive is altered in such a way as to cause a head crash. A head crash is a phenomenon in which the read/write head of a hard drive contacts the magnetic drive itself causing data corruption. This usually results in having to completely restore windows from scratch on a blank drive, and in some cases, buy a new hard drive all together. People with SSD (or solid state drives,) seem to be immune to this effect as a SSD has no moving parts.
BURN: This causes the internal fans to be shut down. Running your computer for extended periods after BURN wins can damage all internal components. Restarting windows seems to have no effect, thus a full restore is required to fix the problem. Windows monitors the internal temperatures of certain components, kicking the fans on and off to conserve power and keep the devices cool. It seems the readings are falsified so the drivers never turn the fans up to high gear.
BLUSkREEN: the computer is placed in a non-operational state. Everyone knows about windows and its famous blue screen of death, well, this is all people who have lost to this character have seen. It does have an unusual error code, usually something mocking the player for losing.
GODDESS: no one knows what happens to those who lose to GODDESS, as the only people who talk about her are those who have won the fight. I did manage to dig up a few reports of disappearances that have been linked to V-ARENA and all reports say that when the homes of the victims were searched, there was an image of the GODDESS in what I will call her hell state laughing on the victim’s computer.
There are more strange bits of information related to this GODDESS. It seems that people who have defeated her on the higher difficulties say they have seen unexplainable and sometimes terrifying things. Everyone who has bested the GODDESS sometimes feel a protective hand on their shoulder, or like they are being watched by some sort of guardian. It seems those who have won at higher levels feel this more than others. I can’t confirm this feeling though; maybe level 3 isn’t high enough. Some even go as far as to mention her as a complete entity, similar to god or the devil.
Now you know why this game is such a problem and why I can’t tell you how to find it. I don’t want to see any more scrapped computers or worse yet, missing person’s cases due to this game. For anyone who may be still curious about it, leave the research to me, I’m already in this thing pretty deep. Don’t worry, I’ll post everything I find and keep you updated. But for GODESS’ sake, and your own, please do not play V-Arena. If you get any emails or messages about it, delete them immediately.
I decided to rewrite several areas of this story adding to my previous version. This is still a work in progress with plans to expand the concepts across several stories later. Any constructive criticisms would be greatly appreciated as I want this story to be as good as it can possibly be.