Playing games with video
Gorgeous graphics have taken over video games, and Web sites devoted to the industry and culture provide plenty of still shots and moving pictures.
Ziff Davis Game Group, which publishes several game magazines and Web sites, last week launched the beta version of GameVideos.com to show off, um, well, game videos.
The goal is to build it into a comprehensive archive of video related to games and gaming culture.
The Web site is in its early stages and already has hundreds of clips, organized by channels, including "extreme," "funny," "retro" and "user submitted."
What counts as funny? One popular submission shows what happens when a toddler tries to play "Gran Turismo," a popular racing simulation game for the PlayStation. Of course he finishes the race, he just manages to hit every cone along the track.
var bnum=new Number(Math.floor(99999999 * Math.random())+1);
An ad featuring William Shatner shilling for the Commodore Vic-20 - "the wonder computer of the 1980s" - is among the more popular spots so far.
"The whole family can learn computing at home," Shatner says as a barrage of arcade-like blips ring out in the background.
The site will also offer the 1UP Show, a weekly podcast about electronic games compliments of its sister site, 1UP.com.
Video game publishers give away all kinds of promotional trailers for industry and fan Web sites, showing off the great visuals or fast action in upcoming games. Most game-related Web sites include some kind of video samples, often provided just as they came from the source.
But game video goes beyond commercials and trailers.
For example, video has evolved into a practical way to teach the tactics and strategies of games. Some sites, such as Stuckgamer.com, offer game video walkthroughs for players who need to see how to complete difficult goals.
From the instructional to the artistic, game videos also take shape in machinama, short movies using video game footage, music and dialogue to tell stories.
There are plenty of Web sites already devoted to this - Machinima.com, for example - showing player-created stories acted out in the virtual environments of games like "The Sims 2," "Halo" and "Half-Life 2."
It's a way players take ownership of their virtual worlds, writing fan-fiction-fueled stories tied to the games they've spent hours playing in.
But as GameVideos.com continues collecting content, it's the videos about "gaming culture" that could prove most promising, especially considering some of the bizarre Internet videos related to the topic.
For an idea, check out a three-minute clip from a 22-minute Webisode originally from Purepwnage.com.
The best way to find it is by using Google to search for "wow is a feeling," although the original site links to it, too, and offers club remixes of the original song in the video.
This clip is a music video themed off the popular persistent-world online game "World of Warcraft." For anyone who has played it, the lyrics comically refer to instantly recognizable facets of the game. For the uninitiated, the video is a bizarre glimpse into an online gaming subculture.
Internet videos can spread quickly, forwarded via e-mail and instant messages to friends and co-workers, and the site hopes that viral nature will help lure more visitors into its network, which includes a busy blogging community. The 1UP Network has about 10 million unique visitors each month.
Gamevideos.com has no plans for charging for premium content.
Instead, videos will have pre-roll ads typically running for 20 seconds.
Videos are available via streaming and download to computers, Apple iPods and Sony PlayStation Portable systems.
Right now the maximum file size for videos is 100 megabytes. The site accepts several formats - including .avi, .wmv and .mov - and requires submissions not be obscene, libelous, threatening or illegal.
GameVideos.com also plans to include video interviews with developers, including famous ones like Will Wright, the architect behind the popular game "The Sims," and Peter Moore, Microsoft's vice president of interactive entertainment business, entertainment and devices division.