Keyboards ready, headphones on, Chinese police moved in for the kill.
More than 300 police officers in China's northern port city Tianjin were "mobilized" to an Internet cafe Wednesday for a three-day competition of the terrorism-themed computer game Counter-Strike.
"The competition is organized to sharpen anti-terrorist skills of Tianjin's police force, as we find the nature of the game very similar to that of our daily practice," said officer Zhang Bin, one of the organizers.
A quick glimpse over the crowded and poorly ventilated cafe offered the sight of dozens of policemen, in their greenish uniforms, glued to flashing computer screens. Some dexterous mouse clicks, and one of their fellow officers was shot down.
Counter-Strike, played by hundreds of thousands of gamers worldwide, is a tactical first-person shooter video game and features real-world weapons.
Han Zhen, a tactical instructor of Tianjin police, found the game very helpful. "Given its close resemblance to real-life scenarios, the game greatly enhances the terrorism awareness of our officers," the five-year veteran gamer said. "And it is very important as terrorism has become a global issue.
"In particular, it trains our officers in the use of weapons and taking advantage of different terrains, and is also a test of mental strength in a duel with a terrorist," said Han. Above him a red banner proclaimed: "Enhancing police forces through technology".
After the competition was announced in March, Zhang said, police officers were enthusiastic. Now almost half the total Tianjin force are regular players.
"Of course, they play, or should I say train, after work," he added.
Officers reported noticeable improvement in self-protection on field missions after the play, Han said, stressing the game was only "a supplement to their traditional means of training."
During the competition, a panel of referees were introduced to ensure no cheating, such as "peeking".
"In actual situations, you have no way to peek at the terrorists' position," Han, the instructor, said.