Copyright 2001 Financial Times, All Rights Reserved

[ December 11th 2001 ]

First, there was Lara Croft - cyberbabe and heroine of the video game Tomb Raider. Then, there was David Beckham - cyberbeau and robotic hero of the latest must-have football computer game. Now there will be an opportunity for discontented men to realise their childhood dreams and themselves become universe-saving clones of their favourite action heroes.

The computer games firm, Rage Software, is linking with Andy McNab, former SAS soldier and blockbuster novelist - who wrote Bravo Two Zero, about his time in the Gulf, and Crisis Four, in which Osama bin Laden attempts to blow up the White House - to create a series of military- based 3D-action games.

They are aimed at 20-something men, who harbour "secret frustrations to be SAS soldiers". Glen O'Connell, the communications director with Rage, insists that the move is not distasteful and insensitive in the wake of the terrorist attacks in America and subsequent war in Afghanistan.

"It will depict the military but in an entertainment sense," he said. "And the fact remains that there has been an explosion in adult-orientated computer games. As you probably know, every man wants to be a racing car driver or James Bond. Similarly there are many men who dream of being SAS soldiers. The closest they will ever get to it is probably via a joystick on a computer, so we plan to tap into these elements."

McNab, who will receive an undisclosed one-off signing fee as well as royalties on every game sold, will provide both "technical and creative input . . . to help ensure the highest level of authenticity and realism", according to the company. The game, as yet unnamed, will be launched early in 2003.

Paul Finnegan, managing director of Rage, said that the signing of McNab would help the UK firm establish an international gaming franchise. "We are absolutely thrilled to be working with Andy McNab and believe that his input and first-hand knowledge of the most revered military force in the world will help us deliver a range of gaming titles that redefine the Special Forces genre."

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