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Virtual-Reality Survival Simulator: ‘Survivorman’ Les Stroud Enters VR Gaming

Les Stroud; (photo/"Survivorman")
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He spent years traveling the world putting himself in serious survival situations so he could show us how to get out of them. Now, 6 years after his survival show, Les Stroud is at it again — this time with a virtual-reality survival simulator.

Les Stroud has always admired artists who never stop creating. The ones who die still making their art, who grow and evolve and change with their craft, without stopping or giving it up. Those are his true role models.

“I love them. And I look up to those artists,” Stroud told GearJunkie. Adding, of his own art, “I really don’t want to stop.

And he doesn’t plan to. With his soon-to-release virtual-reality (VR) survival simulator, the former “Survivorman” television star plans to continue teaching survival — even though he’s been retired from his hit show for 6 years.

Stroud’s passion for what he calls “edutainment” (education + entertainment) hasn’t waned at all.

Meet ‘Survivorman VR: Into the Descent’

Screenshot from Les Stroud Survivorman VR simulator; (Photo/Cream Digital)
(Photo/Cream Digital)

“Think of it like a simulator for helicopter flying,” Stroud said of the “Survivorman VR” video game.

Appropriately, it starts with a helicopter crash on the side of a mountain. You survive, but to stay alive, you’ll have to employ lessons from Stroud.

He will be right there with you (digitally) in the VR space. He’ll guide you through the steps, call you out when you do something wrong, and celebrate with you when you get things right.

For players, it will be like they were pulled straight into an episode of “Survivorman.”

Less Stroud gettinig 3D scanned foor his role in the VR Survivorman game; (Photo/Les Stroud)
Creating a ‘Survivorman’ virtual-reality experience; (photo/Les Stroud)

And “Into the Descent” is just the first scenario — the pilot, if you will. Stroud hopes that if this is successful, he and his partners at Cream Digital will be able to take this survival simulator to as many places as his show, “Survivorman,” took him.

“Now that we’re really into it, I realized, ‘Hang on, we’ve got jungles, we’ve got deserts, we’ve got oceans, we’ve got forests.’ And it goes on and on,” Stroud said. “The amount of scenarios are endless.”

This is Stroud’s way of continuing his art, of growing and evolving with it. He may not be doing the TV show anymore, but he’s creating a VR tool for people who want more of it.

It’s his latest manifestation of edutainment, and he’s clearly excited about the possibilities. Fans of Stroud — or comfort-of-your-home survival challenges — can look for an early 2023 release date.

Meet Les Stroud: Survivorman

Les Stroud surviving in his element; (Photo/Les Stroud)
(Photo/Les Stroud)

Stroud became famous in the early 2000s for his hit Discovery TV show, “Survivorman.” Throughout eight seasons, he put himself into survival situations most people only experience in nightmares. And that was only half of the challenge — because Stroud was also his own camera crew and director.

“There was always two roads to walk. One was, I’ve got to survive,” Stroud said. He had to worry about poisonous animals, insects, and plants; he had to feed himself; stay hydrated and warm; and, eventually, escape the wilderness one way or another.

“Then the second road was, ‘Oh, wait, right. I’m a filmmaker and I have to film this whole bloody story,'” he said. “So I had to really use both sides of my brain that way.

Les Stroud surviving in his element; (Photo/Discovery Channel)
(Photo/Discovery Channel)

Before shooting in a given area, he’d train with a local survival expert to really learn about that specific region. Stroud would also watch YouTube videos, collecting any clever tricks he could to bring out into the field. The tricks didn’t always work, he said. But that still played in his favor.

“[I’d] try to get a fire going with chocolate, a pop can, and sand in the Kalahari Desert,” Stroud said, because he’d seen someone else do it on YouTube. “But for the very first time, does it actually work? Can you really do it right? It’s freaking hard … I loved that because [viewers] saw me fail, and it was real.

That added a level of authenticity to “Survivorman” that other survival shows simply couldn’t replicate.

Life After ‘Survivorman’

Les Stroud surviving in his element; (Photo/Les Stroud)
(Photo/Les Stroud)

“Survivorman” took Stroud to some of the most exotic and unforgiving parts of the planet over its eight seasons. He survived at sea, in the deep outback of Australia, in Papua New Guinea, in the Grenada jungle, in the Himalayan foothills of India, and beyond.

But after 51 episodes, Stroud had to stop. He’d taken the show far, he’d used his platform to educate and entertain hundreds of thousands — potentially millions — inspiring young people around the world to get out into the wilderness.

He also inspired a whole new wave of spinoff survival shows and YouTube channels (Bear Grylls, “Dual Survival,” etc.).

The early days of “Survivorman”

But his passion for teaching survival skills hasn’t faded with retirement. He says he’s continually drawn back to it. That’s exactly how and why he started working with Cream Digital on this latest project, “Survivorman VR: Into the Descent.”

The game launches in early 2023 on Meta Quest 2 and PC VR headsets. Visit the “Survivorman VR” website for more info.

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