New Multi Arcade Game Sale Today
Trio Offer 'Clean' Video Games
Clean games: They're hoping Christian-themed video games will sell.
Douglas E. Caldwell
Peter Fokos had been laid off. Tom Bean had retired after selling his business. Bill Bean, Tom's younger brother, was just starting a new job.
Those aren't exactly the classic backgrounds of daring entrepreneurs, but the three men have come together to start Digital Praise Inc (no period after the "c" they say), which in March put its first products, Christian-themed video games for children and families, on store shelves.
Mr. Fokos is a veteran of the video game industry and was one of the creators for the Learning Co. of brands including Carmen Sandiego, Reader Rabbit and Oregon Trail. But he had been laid off and had a hard time finding an opening with a company he liked.
Tom Bean had sold his interest in Bean & Associates, a mortgage banking consulting firm, and was uncomfortable being out of the business mainstream. Bill Bean had finally found a good sales job after a lengthy search.
The three got to know each other while attending the same church, First Assembly of God in Fremont. Mr. Fokos had the idea of "clean" video games after years of working in the video game industry which is often known better for blood splattering explosions, monsters and other violence or questionable characters.
But would G-rated video games sell? Mr. Fokos says there should be a huge market.
"We're starting to see what the potential could be. Christian music, which we use as a benchmark, is 7 percent of all music sales in the United States. If you were to take that over to video games or computer games, which is about a $10 billion industry, there could be a very sizable market for Christian games," Mr. Fokos says. "Right now it's not zero, but it's very, very small. There really are no other players, so there's a fairly large potential market there. Granted, I don't see this as something I'm doing just to make a lot of money; this was something I was called to do."
The "Adventures in Odyssey" products made by Digital Praise are sold by Christian retailers, and soon, the company hopes, mass retailers. The video games are based on a radio program produced by Focus on the Family, a nonprofit organization located in Colorado Springs, Colo., which promotes conservative Christian values.
"What we've tried to do is weave game play into the story so you not only just hear it like you do on the radio show but you can actually play the story, become part of it," says Mr. Fokos. The video games use the radio show's actors for the voice-over work.
"My first reaction was that they were under-appreciating their market opportunity," says Thomas McCoy, a fellow parishioner who is executive vice president and chief administrative officer for Advanced Micro Devices, Inc. The trio asked Mr. McCoy to review their business plan as a favor.
"I don't care what one's spiritual measure may be, but all of us as parents are disgusted with the games entertainment that we currently see in the stores and our children are exposed to. As a person who's very focused on corporate responsibility, I thought they were beginning their company at an ideal time to take advantage of a time when the world has had it with moral ambiguity at best and more perversion at worst," says Mr. McCoy.
As with most new companies putting out a new product, there were unexpected glitches along the way.
"We were looking at doing our own [animated] videos at the time, but to get them within the budget, ours were not up to the quality level we had hoped they'd be," says Mr. Fokos. "Minimal animation. We pretty much told them to draw with their teeth or something."
That resulted in a product the three founders didn't like.
"We were betting the farm," Tom Bean recalls, adding that that's when he told his partners, "I can't hang with this."
But a chance encounter in Burbank put them in touch with new animators who gave them a good price on redoing the videos to make them higher quality.
"They wanted to help us. They blessed us," Mr. Fokos says.
"We were very fortunate. We happened to meet another Christian company (Toonacious, LLC, of Burbank) -- three men just like us, who met at a Bible study, who started a video company doing children's animated videos with a Christian theme," says Tom Bean. "Their main person was Tony Bancroft who was the co-director of Disney's animation movie 'Mulan.' He had worked at Disney as an animator. He did some of the characters in 'Lion King.'"
"We had very similar stories. We encouraged each other, we'd be praying for each other," Mr. Fokos says.
With products being shipped, money will start to come in. Until now, Digital Praise has been entirely self-funded with the three founders getting mortgages on their Bay Area homes -- and then refinancing as values went up -- to put more money into the company, they say.
Their dedication and determination doesn't surprise Mr. McCoy.
"Each of them is very passionate about God. Each of them is uniquely talented -- one is a business leader and executive, one in sales and marketing and one in the creative arts. When you took those three threads and spun them together, that was a very strong foundation on which to found a company," says Mr. McCoy.
There may be more than games in the company's future, says Bill Bean, vice president of marketing and sales.
"Because we have several brands, one of the things that we want to do is begin identifying 'life lessons learned' with the products we've developed," he says. "It goes beyond one brand ... where we as a developer can provide something that's fun, entertaining and has that subtle 'life lessons learned' message woven into the fabric of the games."
For the future of the company, CEO Tom Bean says there will be more than just pursuit of the bottom line.
"Most times in business you're trying to monopolize as much as you can and squeeze out everybody else," he says. "But ... we want to help others to come along with us. We feel we all work for the same boss and if God wants to use us to help other people, then we will in any way we can."
Video Games Live Concert Program Revealed
New details on what could be the greatest video game concert of all timeAccording to Music4Games.net, The Hollywood Bowl has recently updated its website with the official program for the first ever Video Games Live concert. Performed by the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the concert will take place on July 6, featuring some of the greatest video game music of all time. The Hollywood Bowl is one of the largest natural amphitheaters in the world, located at 2301 North Highland Avenue, Hollywood, CA.The current lineup of games scheduled to be included in the show are:-Halo-Metal Gear Solid-Warcraft-Tron-Myst-Medal of Honor-Tomb Raider-Advent Rising-Sonic The Hedgehog-Headhunter-Beyond Good & EvilWhether or not the music performed from each game is specifically to that title or the series as a whole (e.g. Metal Gear Solid 1, 2, 3, Acid), has not been outlined.
"Featuring full orchestra and choir performances of music from some of the most highly acclaimed video games ever released"The Video Games Live concert event will feature full orchestra and choir performances of music from some of the most highly acclaimed video games ever released. Laser shows, video displays, live characters, and other special segments will also accompany the music scene. For more information on the show, such as ticket pricing, check out the Hollywood Bowl's website.
'Video Games' Used To Treat Traumatised Soldiers
22.04.05 1.20pmBy Andrew Buncombe
WASHINGTON - The Pentagon has spent US$4m to create virtual reality "video games" that simulate combat situations in Iraq, to help treat traumatised soldiers on their return to the US. The project has been created to help treat the thousands of troops returning from tours of duty suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSS). As part of the scheme, military doctors will measure troops' reaction to the combat simulation through their heart beat, blood pressure, breathing rate and skin temperature. Doctors hope that by compiling this data they will able to better diagnose PTSS and suggest a course of appropriate treatment. There is also a hope that the project - which took three years to develop at the San Diego Naval Medical Centre in California - will have civilian uses. Doctor James Spira, a staff psychologist at the centre, said that monitoring troops' reactions can ultimately help them gain a better control over their behaviour in certain situations. "The virtual reality environment is clearly not the same thing as being there. And we don't want it to be the same as being there. We want it to be semi-realistic. We want it to be enough to trigger the thoughts and feelings so they can control those," he told reporters. A recent article in the New England Journal of found that nearly 17 per cent of all US troops returning from Iraq have reported mental illness of some type relating to their combat experience. Officials say there has been an increase in the number of broken marriages, car accidents, fights and alcohol or drug abuse. Many troops report having problems dealing with their anger and frustration on return to a non-combat environment. In addition to the visual simulations, troops participating in the project wear headphones into which the sound of US military helicopters is played, along with that of sniper fire and mortar rounds.
April 21st and 22nd HUGE SALE
Namco Awarded License To Publish "Peanuts" Video Games
PRESS RELEASE: Namco Awarded License To Publish "Peanuts(R)" Video Games
Press release supplied by Games Press 18:04 20/04/2005
SANTA CLARA, Calif., (April 20, 2005) Leading video games publisher and developer Namco Hometek Inc. today announced that United Media has awarded Namco the interactive entertainment publishing rights to "Peanuts," the renowned comic strip created by Charles M. Schulz. The partnership allows Namco to create and publish games featuring "Peanuts" characters and properties, including Charlie Brown, Snoopy, Peppermint Patty, Linus and Pigpen for all current and upcoming game platforms through 2009.
"'Peanuts' is one of the most celebrated comic strips of all time, and Charlie Brown and his friends have firmly cemented their place as American icons of the highest order," said Jeff Lujan, Business Director at Namco Hometek, Inc. "We relish this opportunity to continue these beloved characters' storylines through the medium of games and are honored to introduce this cherished property to an all-new generation of gamers."
Debuting in just seven newspapers in 1950, "Peanuts" has since been enjoyed by millions of readers and viewers worldwide. Today the popular strip can be read in over 2400 newspapers in 75 countries and 21 languages worldwide. Charles M. Schulz's unique art style and endearing characters have inspired an entire generation of cartoonists, while becoming a perennial favorite with both parents and children through compilation books, television specials, and countless consumer products.
"Namco has proven its ability to translate franchises to the video game format with respect and care," said Jean Sagendorph, Licensing Manager at United Media. "Working with such a capable partner will allow us the opportunity to grow the 'Peanuts' property in this popular category, as well as reach new audiences."
For more information about Namco and its products visit www.namco.com.
About United Media
Peanuts is licensed and syndicated by United Media. United Media (UM) is a worldwide licensing and syndication company that focuses on building brand equity around a wide range of creative content. The company recently signed Televisa, a leading Spanish speaking media company, to represent the US rights to the company's children's telenovelas, as well as its long-running hit television series "El Chavo." It also added "D.I.C.E." and "Tamagotchi Connection," two new properties from industry toy leader Bandai America, Inc. United Media licenses and/or syndicates other properties, including "Precious Moments," "Raggedy Ann & Andy," "Jakers!" "The Adventures of Piggley Winks," "Arthur," and "Dilbert." United Media is an E.W. Scripps Company.
About Namco Hometek Inc.
Namco Hometek Inc. is the U.S. consumer division of Namco Limited, a Tokyo-based world leader in the high-tech entertainment industry. Based in Santa Clara, CA, Namco Hometek Inc. is an award-winning video games publisher for next generation game consoles. Namco has created some of the industry's greatest video game franchises: "Tekken®," "SOULCALIBUR®," "Dead to Rights®," "Pac-Man WorldTM," "Ridge Racer®," "Time Crisis®" and "ACECOMBATTM." For more information about Namco and its products log onto www.namco.com.
Video Games Inspire Student's Lauded Film
Michael Highland, an Engineering sophomore, screened his movie 'As Real as Your Life' at the Ivy Film Festival at Brown last weekend.
Engineering sophomore traveled to Brown to screen movie about psychology of gaming
By ko im April 20, 2005
PROVIDENCE, R.I. -- Last year, Michael Highland was playing about 10 hours of video games in an average day.
Little did the Engineering sophomore know that his addiction would be the topic of one of the more popular films at the Ivy Film Festival, held this past weekend at Brown University.
"It was a product of circumstance and how I was feeling at the moment -- the psychological effect of video games," Highland said.
Titled "As Real as Your Life," Highland's multimedia 10-minute film is a personal story about how playing video games becomes a surrogate existence. For example, when hearing helicopters in the Philadelphia area, Highland said he will react defensively like the animated character in the video game Grand Theft Auto.
"My heart rate went up when I see the helicopter -- similar to the adrenaline response in the game," he said.
The New Jersey native said he was involved in high school performances and developed an eye for photography while making a documentary about go-cart racing during his senior year.
High school friend and Brown sophomore Justin Revelle saw the documentary and noticed a more creative spirit in "As Real as Your Life."
"He's always just been adept with computer and film imaging -- I like how he incorporated the media into the film," Revelle said.
Highland chose Penn over Yale because he was more interested in graphics than in architecture. Now he is studying digital media design.
The film, which is the final product of one of his classes, took over 400 hours to make.
Highland devoted so much time to the project that he said he ended up failing his math course last semester, but also said he has no regrets about putting the majority of his time and effort into creating the film.
"My academic adviser said the film was worth it," Highland said.
"As Real as Your Life" won the grand prize at Penn's second annual College Houses' Student Film Festival early this year. Although Highland did not receive any awards at his first Ivy Film Festival showing
A New Giant Enters B.C.'s Games Industry
Wednesday, April 20, 2005
A Walt Disney Co. subsidiary announced Tuesday it is setting up a game development studio in Vancouver as the world's largest entertainment firm vies to become a top-tier video-game publisher.
The new, as-yet unnamed Vancouver studio will be headed up by four local industry veterans, all of whom left high-ranking jobs at Electronic Arts Inc. last year.
The new studio already boasts 20 employees and will ramp up to between 60 and 80 within a year, said vice-president and general manager Josh Holmes. That would place it among the top five gaming studios in the city.
The new venture was the brainchild of Holmes, the new studio's vice-president of operations Howard Donaldson, art director Daryl Anselmo and technical director Jorge Freitas.
While at Electronic Arts, Holmes, 31, led the development teams on the top-selling Def Jam and NBA Street franchises. Donaldson, 52, was EA Canada's chief financial officer for seven years and before that worked with Disney Interactive.
Seeking a "strong strategic partner" to meet the challenges of a new generation of gaming platforms expected to hit the market over the next two years, the group approached Disney subsidiary Buena Vista Games, which was known to be seeking a greater presence in the fast-growing electronic game market, Holmes said. To date, Buena Vista has largely licensed or contracted out the development of games based on Disney franchises to other publishers and independent developers.
The new studio, which has an action title in pre-production, is aimed at developing original and Buena Vista-owned content for the fast-growing adult gaming market. It will operate as a wholly owned subsidiary of Buena Vista.
"We're equivalent in games to the Miramax movie studio," Holmes said, referring to Disney's art-house film division for grown-up audiences.
In addition to the Vancouver startup, Buena Vista is buying Avalanche Software LC, a developer in Salt Lake City with more than 100 employees, the company said Tuesday. Avalanche creates its own titles such as Tak and the Power of Juju and Dragonball Z Sagas, as well as branded games such as Chicken Little, based on Disney's animated feature film premiering in November.
The two deals reflect a new strategy by Disney to take a leading role in the fastest-growing segment of the entertainment sector.
The world's largest entertainment company, Disney remains a bit player in video games. Buena Vista Games had sales of $265 million US in fiscal 2004, compared to $3 billion US for industry leader Electronic Arts. Nonetheless, it has a powerful distribution network and a vast library of content begging for adaptation into the interactive medium.
For years it has been linked to possible acquisitions of publishers such as Activision Inc. and THQ Inc., but has been deterred by prohibitive market values for these companies. In recent months, Disney switched its search to developers and/or growing its own gaming capacity from scratch.
The Vancouver start-up was attractive in that it came with a team that already had a "great track record" working together, said Buena Vista Games senior vice-president and general manager Graham Hopper. The company also wanted a presence in Vancouver, which has one of the industry's largest and deepest talent pools, he said.
Advertising In Games Rises To $800MLN
$800 mln to be spent on advertising inside video games in 2009 by ZDNet's IT Facts -- The Yankee Group expects advertising in games to rise to $800 mln in 2009 from nearly $120 mln in 2004. $266 mln will come from "advergaming," when advertisers create a game around a product rather than place their brands within a well-known title. Massive Inc claims video game advertising would top $1 bln in the [...]
Namco Pumps Museum Collection to PSP
by Punch Jump Crew
Namco, creator of the butterball that is Pac-Man, will release a classic game collection caled, Namco Museum Battle Collection for the PSP. The collection will include arcade classics like Galaga, Pac-Man, and Dig Dug, plus add 10 exclusive classics not seen in the Japanese version.
"Millions of people around the world have played Namco's arcade classics, and now we're able to offer new versions of these timeless games to a whole new generation of gamers with 'Namco Museum Battle Collection,'" said Yoshi Niki, Business Unit Director at Namco Hometek Inc. "'Namco Museum Battle Collection' is a must-have title for anyone that enjoys classic gameplay on an innovative new platform."
The U.S. version will nab 10 exclusive classics not found in the version released earlier this year in Japan. Yankee gamers can look forward to Xevious, Bosconian, Mappy, Tower of Druaga, Dragon Buster, Grobda, Dig Dug 2, King & Balloon and others bring the total to more than 20 titles.
The Namco classics receive an extreme makeover in graphics for the handheld system. Namco Museum Battle Collection will also take advantage of wireless gameplay for up to four players, and utilize the game sharing feature to require only one person to have the UMD.
Feature Covers Video Games
NEW YORK A weekly video-game feature called "Game Dork" is being syndicated by Doug Elfman. The feature includes a column, briefs, top-10 lists, capsule reviews, and photos of video games. Clients include the Boston Herald, The Commercial Appeal of Memphis, the Las Vegas Review-Journal, The Oregonian of Portland, the Richmond (Va.) Times-Dispatch, and other newspapers in states such as Arkansas, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, New York, North Carolina, and Washington. The columnist email@example.com is based in Las Vegas.
Actors Video Games Strike Averted
It had been expected that Friday would be the last day of negotiations, but the paper said both sides agreed instead to take a break from bargaining and return May 13. The Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists are negotiating with a group of major video game publishers on a contract to replace the current agreement, which was scheduled to expire Friday.
The contract originally covered only the Electronic Arts video game company, but some 70 other big game companies have been abiding by its terms.
According to The Reporter, SAG, AFTRA and the video game companies declined to characterize the progress of the current talks, citing an ongoing news blackout.
The major issues being negotiated include residual payments, wages, and pension and health benefits.
Vintage Video Games Go Highbrow
02:00 AM Apr. 19, 2005 PT
Pac-Man just turned 25, but he's looking older. Much, much older. He's haggard and wrinkled and toothless, and he's being fed power pellets through an IV drip next to his rocking chair.
At least that's how the arcade icon is depicted in Pac-Man in Hospice, a new painting by artist Greg Simkins. "I thought back to how much these games meant to us as kids," said Simkins. "And I wondered, what happened to the characters in old games while we all grew up?"
Actually, they seem to be doing just fine. That's the impression viewers get from the i am 8-bit art exhibit, opening April 19 at Los Angeles' Gallery 1988. Simkins and more than 100 other artists contributed to this show that pays homage to video games of the late '70s and early '80s.
"That era represents such a mysterious and innocent time for technology," said Jensen Karp, co-owner of Gallery 1988. "Kids like me saw Intellivision and NES as pure miracles. We thought that was as good as it was going to get, and we were pretty happy with that. We're doing the show to bring back that naïve innocence."
Retro game nostalgia is nothing new. Gamers could buy collections of vintage games a decade ago. MAME, the emulation software that lets gamers play thousands of old titles on a computer, has been around since 1997.
What's new is the way artists are re-contextualizing vintage video games. The i am 8-bit exhibit is just the latest example. Lil' Flip's recent hip-hop track "Game Over" sampled the familiar power-up and "waka-waka" sounds from Pac-Man. An installation piece at last year's prestigious Whitney Biennial was built around a hacked Super Mario Bros. cartridge.
But there's never been a collection of game reinterpretations quite like i am 8-bit. The show features more than a score of stylish, evocative tributes to coin-op classics like Q*Bert, Tron and Centipede. In the artists' statement that accompanies the exhibition, many participants cite the life-changing experiences they've had playing games at convenience stores, pizza parlors and go-cart parks.
Artist Jorge R. Gutierrez, who grew up in Mexico City, describes the local arcades as an amazing cultural microcosm. "In every arcade with a Street Fighter 2 machine, you could witness all the struggles of life: the rich versus the poor, the north versus south, the First World versus the Third World -- and more importantly, you versus thousands of unknown kids."
Gutierrez contributed a portrait of Blanka from Street Fighter 2, a game he has played incessantly since he was a kid. "Eventually, my nickname at school became Blanka. When I got into real fights, I even tried using some of his moves. They never worked," said Gutierrez. "I often ask myself, what would Blanka do? I even met my wife because of this game. So yes, I owe my whole life to Blanka."
That sort of ardent obsession seems common among the i am 8-bit artists. Why do these retro games have such an enduring appeal? Nostalgia may account for some of it, but it doesn't explain why junior high school kids -- who weren't even alive in the 1980s -- are swapping vintage game ROMs through P2P networks and buying fuzzy dice covered with Mario mushrooms.
"I think it's the rawness of the shapes that plays with the imagination. The 8-bit games were a perfect abstraction," said Sean Clarity, whose striking interpretation of Excitebike maintains the blocky feel of the original.
Artist Luke Chuen agreed there's something inherently appealing about the low-res aesthetic. His canvas captures a Dig Dug villain at the exact moment it's about to explode. Chuen thinks the old games represent a turning point in art history.
"Creating characters that players could identify with and even develop emotional attachments to within an 8-bit environment forced designers to rethink the rules of 20th-century iconography and visual communication," Chuen said. "I can't think of another defining moment when the rules that governed the art world were forced to work with the rules that governed the math world."
Chuen added that creating artwork in this lo-fi style can even feel subversive. "As visual artists, we're almost expected to embrace new trends and technologies. But it can be very liberating to turn around and say, 'Fuck Photoshop, fuck Maya, fuck the G5, fuck the PS2. It's time to rock it old school!'"
Other artists explore the role the games can play in our lives when we aren't even playing them. Thomas Han's painting Super Mushroom Boogie depicts one of his actual childhood nightmares -- being trapped in the world of Super Mario Bros. "The secret mazes and tunnels that led you to treasures or alternate dimensions just bugged me out as a kid," said Han. "It seemed as if, even turned off, the game was living and evolving by itself."
Pac-Man is a recurring theme in the show, and several artists explore the darker side of the round yellow eating machine. Dennis Larkin's Playing the Nuclear Option shows Mr. and Ms. Pac-Man initiating World War III. Peter Gronquist depicts the couple by carving wedge-shaped chunks out of actual hand grenades.
But few of the works take games this seriously. Most exhibit a spirit of playfulness entirely appropriate to the subject matter. For example, in Duck Hunter S. Thompson, Tim Tomkinson envisions the infamous gonzo journalist using a plastic light gun to blast low-res birds out of the sky.
The i am 8-bit exhibit runs April 19 through May 20. An opening-night reception will feature a live performance by 8-bit Weapon, a band that uses vintage consoles as musical instruments. Plenty of playable Intellivisions will be on hand, as well as an actual functioning 8-foot-long NES controller.
Still Gobbling The Ghosts
Today, 25 years after the launch of the original arcade game, PAC-MAN is more popular than ever. Having already generated millions of downloads worldwide, PAC-MAN was 2004's best-selling mobile game on several of the world's leading mobile network operators, including Vodafone in the United Kingdom.
Results from operators throughout Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA), showed that the popularity of retro-arcade games on mobile phone handsets is continuing with PAC-MAN leading the way as the overall best-selling game in 2004 on four of the leading mobile carriers. Sales figures show that downloads of PAC-MAN increased on a month by month basis as the mobile games market continued to grow and expand throughout 2004.
PAC-MAN was created by Namco's Toru Iwatani in 1980 as an arcade game. It quickly grew into a global phenomenon with hundreds of thousands of machines appearing in pubs, cinemas and arcades worldwide. In it's initial year of release over 100,000 PAC-MAN arcade cabinets were sold but estimates now place the total number of times PAC-MAN has been played at over ten billion. In the original Japanese arcade version, the Ghosts were called Akabei, Pinky, Aosuke, and Guzuta but in the English language versions they were renamed Binky, Inky, Pinky and Clyde. It took until 1999 for the perfect game of PAC-MAN to be played. Florida resident Billy Mitchell cleared every screen, ate all four ghosts with every power-pill, got every power-up and cleared all 256 screens, scoring 3,333,360 points with one life. A world record!
In the past 25 years, PAC-MAN has gone on to become the best selling coin-operated game in history, inspiring records, cartoons, toys, playing cards and even pasta and breakfast cereal. In 1999 Namco launched PAC-MAN on mobile phones in Japan, which reached the shores of Europe in 2002. 2005 marks PAC-MAN's 25th anniversary and the game is still being played and attracting new fans all around the world.
The Video Game With An Offer You Can't Refuse
Francis Ford Coppola, director of the trilogy of Godfather films, has accused the developers of failing to consult him and expressed his fear that the game will be a travesty of his Oscar-winning 1972 masterpiece.
The developer, Electronic Arts, achieved a coup by wooing Marlon Brando, who won an Academy Award as Don Corleone, out of retirement to record a voice-over for the game six months before his death last year. James Caan, who played Sonny Corleone, and Robert Duvall, alias Tom Hagen, were also recruited, but Al Pacino, who portrayed Michael Corleone, refused.
Coppola, however, is unimpressed. 'I knew nothing about it,' he said. 'They never asked me if I thought it was a good idea. I went and I took a look at what it was ... What they do is they use the characters everyone knows and they hire those actors to be there and only to introduce very minor characters. And then for the next hour they shoot and kill each other.'
Speaking on the US cable network show Sunday Morning ShootOut, he added: 'I had absolutely nothing to do with the game and I disapprove. I think it's a misuse of the film.'
Coppola has broken ranks with a number of directors, including George Lucas and Peter Jackson, who regard games as a vital extension of the merchandising bonanza around a blockbuster film. Actors including Pierce Brosnan, Judi Dench and John Cleese have lent their voices to a James Bond game, while it emerged last week that Sean Connery will record dialogue for a game version of From Russia With Love.
For all its bursts of violence, The Godfather, based on Mario Puzo's novel, is seen by critics as a supreme piece of storytelling and characterisation. Coppola's wrath is unlikely to be lessened by a recent description of the Godfather game as 'a free-roaming, Grand Theft Auto -style romp through New York city, spanning the years 1945 to 1955'. Grand Theft Auto is a violent game in which players shoot cops and and steal cars.
David DeMartini, executive producer of the Godfather game, insisted that Coppola had been broadly supportive. He told last month's Electronic Gaming Monthly: 'We did meet with him and he embraced the project - not as something he wanted to work on, but he invited us up to his private library, where we spent many hours, and we have access to all of his notes via this library. He was very gracious.'
Of the cast members, DeMartini added: 'We had an opportunity to discuss with Marlon some of the greatness that was The Godfather and some of his perspectives on the film. We've been working in very close collaboration with Paramount to obtain the original actors and recapture some of that authenticity of their performances.'
The makers insist the game will be faithful to the plot, including Sonny's death and the horse's head in a bed. James Caan jokily observed of his participation: 'Not to be maudlin about it, but my kids can play with me after I'm gone.' Electronic Arts has also secured the rights to the music Nino Rota composed for the film. The game is due out in November for the PC, PSP, Xbox and PlayStation 2.
In recent years the video games industry has become more lucrative than Hollywood itself, thanks in part to titles such as GoldenEye, another Bond adaptation released in 1997 on Nintendo 64. One of its British designers, David Doak, now at the games developer Free Radical, said: 'The difficulty they have is that The Godfather is not an action film like James Bond. There is extreme violence, but it's cathartic and secondary to the characterisation. I'm sure that's the problem for Coppola, who's essentially a storyteller.'
Simon Smith-Wright of Electronic Arts said last night: 'People should reserve judgment until they play the game. Just as the film had to please Mario Puzo's readers, so this game will prove to fans of the film how exciting interactive entertainment can be.'
THE PINBALL COMPENDIUM
Pinball!, this unique form of entertainment has challenged and inspired millions of enthusiastic players and become the passion of countless collectors around the world. This is the second volume in the series of three, this exciting book chronicles pinballs from the 1970's to 1981, featuring exclusive rare interviews with some of the greatest designers & artists in the industry. Illustrated with over 750 color photos, hundreds of pinball machines from Gottlieb, Williams, Bally, Chicago Coin and other manufacturers are showcased--including many never before published. This extensive text provides descriptions of the games, their special features, historical significance, release date, and names of designers and artists. Current values are listed for each machine shown in the book. Pinball enthusiasts will also love the section on the pioneers in the industry, showing many photos never seen before. The first book has been acclaimed by many to be the best book on pinballs to date. The second volume is essential to have, it is a wonderful reference tool and a tribute to all those who were part of the pinball machines fascinating history.
This book is a must for every pinball enthusiast, it has been acclaimed by many as the best pinball book to date. This is a great new-Just released March 2002 book: 1930S-1960S Michael Shalhoub (Author) Pinball! From its inception in the 1930s, this unique form of entertainment has challenged and inspired millions of enthusiastic players and became the passion of countless collectors around the world. Illustrated with over 600 colour photos, this exciting book chronicles the development of pinball machines from the 1930s through the late 1960s, featuring exclusive rare interviews with some of the greatest designers in the industry. Hundreds of pinballs from Gottlieb, Bally, Genco, Williams, Exhibit Supply, United and other manufacturers are showcased- including many never before published. The extensive text provides descriptions of the games, their special features, historical significance, release dates and names of designers and artists. Current values are listed for each machine shown in the book. Pinball enthusiasts will also love the many stories featuring the thrill of the "Silverball." This is a wonderfull reference tool and a tributeto all those who were part of the pinball machine's fascinating history. To order book go to http://www.pinballcompendium.com/