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STUDIOS GAME FOR PROJECTION
Copyright 2001 www.tombraiderchronicles.com Source: Associated Press

[ May 15th 2001 ]

While the previous courting of video games with motion pictures have resulted in total failure for major Hollywood studios, analysts are keeping a keen eye on the latest melding of the two indicating that the adoption of video game design strategies could finally project the success of the small screen onto the big:

The line between video games and other forms of popular entertainment has been blurring for years. Some of the most complicated games take 18 months to two years to produce and can cost millions of dollars. Thanks to technological advances in software and in game consoles, the graphics in many games are increasingly lifelike. The story lines also have become more important, with simple shoot-em-up plots and one-dimensional characters giving way to complicated story lines that often are advanced with several minutes of video-quality scenes between game levels. In recent years, sales of video and computer games have surpassed domestic movie box office receipts. A report issued last week by the NPD Group indicated that retail sales of U.S. video game hardware, software and accessory sales increased 18 percent during the first quarter.

"People often tend to think of video games in a broad negative sense,'" said Chris Lee, the producer of the Final Fantasy' motion picture. "You don't get to be a $10 billion dollar industry catering to that one audience that likes to shoot each other.'' Game characters such as Tomb Raider's Lara Croft, who will be played on the big screen by Angelina Jolie, have become a part of popular culture without the aid of a television show or movie tie-in. "Lara Croft is already a celebrity,'' said Celia Pearce, visiting scholar at the University of Southern California's Annenberg Center for Communication. "She's the first silicon sex symbol.''

Studios are also beginning to tap into the elements of the video game genre in their design to project and maintain the integrity of characters between motion picture sequels, with companies like Walt Disney, and Universal allowing their internal games divisions or outside game makers access to sets and scripts to develop the most realistic games.

"As the video game business has grown, some of the studios like Sony recognize we need to work in a partnership,'' said Greg Goldstein, vice president of brand development and licensing at Activision, one of the largest game publishers. "It's just impossible for us to be out of the loop. If anything, we need to be the closest people in the loop.''

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