In 2034, computer programmer Ken Castle (Michael C. Hall) invents self-replicating nanites that replace brain tissue and allow humans to control other humans' actions and see through their eyes. The first application of Castle's "Nanex" technology is a virtual community life simulation game, Society, which allows gamers to manipulate live actors as their avatars. Society becomes a worldwide sensation, making Castle the richest man in the world. He then creates Slayers, a first-person shooter where the "characters" are death-row prisoners using real weapons in specially created arenas. Unlike Society actors, Slayers participants are not paid; instead, they volunteer in exchange for the promise that any Slayer who survives 30 matches will earn his freedom (though no one ever has).