Curiouser And Curiouser


This week has started off proving to be quite the book-adaptation-fest.

For starters, there’s been several gorgeously lavish pics released, revealing Tim Burton’s typically bizarre interpretation of Alice in Wonderland, or should I say, “Lewis Carroll’s, Tim Burton’s, Alice in Wonderland”?

And then secondly, it’s been announced that the BBC is making a small-screen version of The Gruffalo, in time for Christmas. Both of the aforementioned productions, coincidentally, feature Helena Bonham Carter.

What children’s books would you like to see translated to film or television? Ohhh I feel my very first list on Imaginary Eric coming on!

More News On The Amanda Project

The Amanda Project
One of the very first things I blogged about here in January was a new ultra-cross-platform tween brand, set to be released this year called, The Amanda Project. There’s not much to see at that link yet, but keep it handy.

I’ve been keeping an eye on press releases from T.A.P creators, Fourth Story Media, and it looks like the first book in the series, and the website are ready to be launched soon.

This is one of those projects that has me, as someone obsessed with story-telling through different mediums, going crazy with anticipation. I’m so excited to see this, and I really hope it’s successful.

Up until this point, books like, The 39 Clues and, Skeleton Creek have touched on mixing traditional books with web content, but nothing has been as ambitious in terms of audience participation, interaction and discussion, as what The Amanda Project aims to do.

Be sure to check out the interactive press release, announcing the partnership of HarperCollins in the U.K. and Fourth Story Media, the slideshow has some intriguing visuals.

Play Time: Lego Star Wars

Lego Star WarsRemember a few posts ago I was singing the praises of the Unity plug-in for Flash games? Well all that fancy 3D magic has been used in the latest Lego Star Wars mini game, The Quest for R2-D2.

This is the first major brand I’ve seen using Unity, and it’s a bandwagon I would like to see the Disney’s and Nickelodeon’s of the world jump on, at least for a game or two. The Quest for R2-D2 looks polished to the point where it compliments the other Lego branded games like Batman and the recently released, Indiana Jones, but it still has the instant playability of a good web game.

I wonder what might be possible if this kind of Flash technology is used in an MMO. Perhaps we’ll see soon.

Only 8% Of Teens Watch TV Online

Here’s an article I’ve been pondering over for a few days. According to independent researcher Bruce Leichtman, just 8% of teenagers in the U.S. watch television online. My first reaction – nonsense! They’ve got it all wrong.

Then I got thinking. Then I got analytical. Then I got realistic. And finally, I got surprised.

Granted, there isn’t much clarification in the study as to how long or how often users watch T.V. on the web, but the survey shows a significant amount of teens across the country were questioned. And no matter how you look at it, online viewing numbers are increasing.

This leaves me considering a different conclusion than the one I had so quickly jumped to at first. Am I so wrapped up in the world of cross-platform content that what I consider to be normal viewing habits aren’t normal at all?

I’ve been involved with countless rounds of user testing and focus groups with online content and television shows, but looking back, I can’t honestly say I’ve ever asked the question, “How much T.V. do you watch online?”

The numbers speak for themselves, no matter how unusual they seem to me, but it’s sobering to compare one content medium over another. I’d love to know if people working in games, publishing, online communities or any other type of media have discovered surprising facts that make them look at their work with a different pair of eyes.

Video Game Violence Goes To The Supreme Court

I’ll keep the legal lingo in this post to a minimum, but this article caught my eye. California Attorney General, Jerry Brown, and Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger are petitioning to the U.S. Supreme Court to have a law re-instated that bans minors from buying or renting violent video games. Apparently the 9th U.S. Court of Appeals scrapped the law and threw out numerous studies linking violent video games to ant-social behavior.

This blows my mind. In fact a part of me hopes I’ve just got my facts wrong and I’m talking a load of nonsense here.

Wait a minute before you think I’m getting on my anti-violence-high-horse here, I’m not talking about shielding our little ones from every little misdeed portrayed on screen; I grew up on He-Man, Ninja Turtles and G.I. Joe and it didn’t make me into a gun-crazed psychopath with a penchant for pizza, but come on, a line has to be drawn here.

I don’t have a problem playing violent video games; I loves me a little bit of GTA Vice City now and then, but would I want my eleven-year-old cousins to get hold of it? Of course not. I need a new sofa because they’re always jumping on it, imitating the last thing they saw on television that day. Why would games, as graphically advanced and immersive as they are nowadays be treated any differently?

Incidentally, I was working out at my local gym yesterday afternoon and one of the multitude of TV’s they have there was showing the movie, The Punisher. Another screen had an episode of Dog the Bounty Hunter on. The former showed some poor guy getting his eyebrow piercings ripped out by a torturous mobster, whereas Dog’s wife, Beth, had her cleavage pixelated. Yes, yes. I’m from Europe, and we’re all supposed to be cool with the human body, yada yada yada, but seriously, which of the above scenes is more offensive to you, or more importantly to children? Am I just looking at this the wrong way? I’d like to know.

Spielberg On Video Games For The Family

“There’s not been convergence, [between video games and films] thus far. There will be. When it happens it will be dynamite” says director, Steven Spielberg in this Reuters interview. Concerned with the lack of games available for his family, Spielberg made his own; Boom Blox, for the Wii.

Given his film background, the question inevitably raised was his opinion on the progressively blurred line between cinema and gaming, but Spielberg doesn’t think we’re there just yet. It’s ironic though; the Medal of Honor franchise, famous for its cinematic look and feel, was originally created by his former games company, Dreamworks Interactive before being sold to Electronic Arts. George Lucas is another big name Hollywood director who’s studio, LucasArts is noted for creating games like Monkey Island or Day of the Tentacle that users watch like a movie as much as play like a game.

If George and Steven weren’t already buddies, I’d say someone needed to hook them up.

Play Time: Blurst

Velociraptor Off Road SafariArizona based Flashbang Studios are creating a very unique set of games. Using a 3D plugin for Flash called Unity, their games feature vast worlds to explore in three dimensions, all from a regular browser window. I’m not usually one to get all wobbly-kneed at this kind of techy news, but just seeing the kind of rich environments Unity can produce in games like Crazy Taxi-styled, Velociraptor Off Road Safari or newly released Paper Moon, has me feeling there’s a lot of potential in store for 3D-based casual games in the near future.

Read more about Flashbang’s adventures in this interview and be sure to add them on Twitter.

Robert Iger Interview

Setbacks and struggles are part and parcel of succeeding in any career, especially in a field as competitive as the entertainment industry. Take heart in reading this super-insightful interview with the C.E.O. of Disney, Robert Iger.

My favorite quote…

“One of my bosses once said that just when you think nothing’s going to change, everything changes. And you reach a point where you’re not sure any opportunity is going to present itself, and the next day you come in and you’re — boom — smacked in the face with some huge new opportunity you didn’t even predict was going to occur.”

An Awesome Book by Dallas Clayton

I’m labeling this one under inspiration, both in a traditional sense and the web 2.0 way.

Ladies and gentlemen, if you haven’t already, please meet Dallas Clayton. Dallas is a very interesting fellow who’s work I’ve been following for a month or two, after hearing about how awesome his Awesome Book is.

What I love about discovering little gems like this is the genuine, honest understanding Dallas has of the unbounded imagination of childhood. Yikes, that sounds far too pretentious. What I’m trying to say is, he’s not faking when it comes to thinking like a kid.

There are plenty of writers out there who try to be “down with the kids”, by name-dropping the latest trend, or just being plain random and hoping for the best. It rarely works. Dallas, on the other hand, has hit the nail on the head and in doing so, created something truly special that everyone should take a look at. Please enjoy, and keep on dreaming.

An Awesome Book from dallas clayton on Vimeo.

Play Time: Sneeze

Games, games, games. I love ’em! You know how some people are real movie buffs; they can remember actors and film titles and who won such-and-such an Oscar in 1964? I’m like that with video games, kind of like a polygon-absorbing sponge (Or Kirby if you want to be all Nintendo about it).

Reviewing games for a living has been a big part of my career so far, and this leads me to the reason for writing this post. There are squillions of games being released these days, especially online, so Eric and I thought it would be a good idea to let you know about one or two choice gaming morsels each week. Our choices won’t be based on any particular brand, but they will have a family-friendly appeal… so even though I’m loving Wolfenstein on my iPhone right now, you won’t hear me mention it on here. I won’t hint at the nifty control system. Or my hopes of iPhone Quake being released. Nope, not one word. Anyway, without further ado, let’s get on with the gaming.sneeze

Let’s start with a current favorite of mine, and quite a topical game right now – Sneeze. It’s a simple game; just move the little fellow around the map, find a spot where there’s plenty of people, and….Atchoo! Sneeze on them. Get people infected and then they’ll sneeze on someone, and they’ll sneeze on someone else, and so on. Each map has a certain amount of people you’ve got to pass the sniffles on to before moving onto the next round, and some people are easier to infect than others, but the trick is, you’ve only got one sneeze to blast, so time it wisely.

Games like Sneeze offer that magical blend of instant gratification and simplicity that really makes me smile. Granted, you’re not likely to develop a long-term addiction to the game; it’s only got a handful of levels, but as an quick hit of concentrated gaming that anyone can play from beginning to end in a ten-minute break, it’s a fine example of casual gaming at its best.

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Copyright © 2016 Shane Lindley