Legendary espionage writer, John le Carre has collaborated on a real-life spy game set in London, as aspiring recruits test their skills in an “immersive” exercise. The famed author has teamed up with Fire Hazard – a leading company in immersive Gaming – and the people behind BBC’s stylish series “The Night Manager” on the ambitious new project.

John le Carre’s “The Circus” challenges would be Cold War spies to demonstrate a flair for inventing a convincing cover story, tailing a subject and planting a dead drop (passing items or information between two individuals using a secret location).

The two-hour experience will be launched next month, with an initial set of six recruitment exercises due to be staged from 8th September.

Le Carre’s sons get involved

The game’s storyline has been created with the assistance of The Ink Factory, a company that has been set up by two of le Carre’s sons, Stephen and Simon Cornwell as they look to reach new audiences. It builds on Fire Hazard’s hit game “Undercover” which was praised by The Metro as being the “closest you’ll get to being a spy without accidentally starting a nuclear war with Russia."

Fitting base for the game

“The Circus” was the nickname for the location of MI6’s headquarters in London at Cambridge Circus, as referenced by officers and staff in le Carre’s acclaimed novels such as “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy” between 1960 and 1990.

It’s fitting then that the new project will involve potential “recruits” meeting at that same place as they pit their wits against fellow novices.

Recruits to undergo rigorous tests

The recruits can expect to undergo rigorous tests designed by Circus Spymasters to establish whether their character and behaviour is suited to becoming a spy, through a thorough evaluation of the player’s “agent potential” and tradecraft skills.

Players will be graded according to their aptitude in each department based on the assessment, enabling a decision to be made on whether they are recruited or disregarded.

Besides demonstrating basic, essential test surveillance and counter-surveillance skills, the participants will be challenged to decode microfilm, fake their identity and evade pursuers in the complex game. Fire Hazard have promised those involved that they will also gain some experience in “the less delicate arts with the scalp-hunters, the kidnappers and assassins of the Secret Service.”