January 31st, 2006

Speaking of movies based on games...

The LAist just posted an interview with game designer, writer, and documentary maker Jordan Mechner. He's responsible for designing such games as Karateka & The Prince of Persia, and is now working on a screen adaptation of the PoP series for Jerry Bruckheimer & Walt Disney.

While most of the interview focuses on his upcoming independent film, Chavez Ravine: A Los Angeles Story, the LAist took the time to ask Jordan about his involvement with Prince of Persia...

Will there be a Prince of Persia movie? How involved are you with the adaptation? John August and I brought the project to Jerry Bruckheimer and Walt Disney Pictures, who hired me to adapt the screenplay. I'm also an exec producer on the movie along with John, Mike Stenson and Chad Oman. Jerry Bruckheimer is the Producer with a capital P.

What are the differences in writing for video games and adult-oriented TV/film projects? In a movie or TV show, the story comes first. It's the locomotive, the creative driving force. Whereas in a video game, the game play is the critical element that drives the project; the story is just one of the supporting elements. One of the biggest traps for a screenwriter/game designer is to overestimate the importance of the writing, as compared to other aspects of the game designer's job. You have to remember
you're making a game, not a movie.

So, a writer who's done BOTH movies and games working on a screen adaptation of a video-game? Good idea. I hope the guys planning Halo: The Movie are listening...


Healthcare: Nintendo Controller a Boon to the Disabled?

For all the jokes about Nintendo's new Revolution controller (Hey! Keep your mind out of the gutter!), Nintendo fans who are physically disabled seem to be pleased with the new design.

By way of example, The San Jose Mercury News recently published a story on disabled gamer Travis Taft. Travis has been quadriplegic since a body surfing accident, and has been struggling to satisfy his gaming cravings.

Unable to use today's complex two-handed controllers due to his limited motor skills from his injury, he hasbeen resorting to a legacy gaming system where he using his stronger right hand to push a joystick, and uses his left hand to mash a single button. But Travis eagerly awaits the new Revolution's one-handed
controller. He even wrote a letter to Electronic Gaming Monthly magazine about the controller's breakthrough value to the disabled.

"I won't have to give up something that has been part of my life for the last 15 years and that I've probably dedicated thousands of hours to," Taft said.

Marcie Roth, CEO of the National Spinal Cord Injury Association, said "People who believe they can do the things that were pleasurable to them before the injury are people who are going to seek positive outcomes in other ventures as well."

Nintendo also recently contributed GameCubes to the development of the GameCycle, an exercise machine that allows people who are confined to a wheelchair do upper-body exercises. The GameCycle's designers wanted "exercise to be as addictive as gaming."


Thompson Complaints Piling Up with Florida Bar Association

Jack Thompson is certainly keeping the Florida Bar Association busy these days.

Based on information contained in a letter to the Bar's board of governors, copies of which Thompson e-mailed to various media outlets, yet another formal disciplinary complaint has been filed against the outspoken critic of the video game industry. The new complaint has been confirmed by an official of the Florida Bar.

The latest complaint was filed by Philadelphia law firm Blank Rome, a near-daily target of Thompson's e-mail vitriol. According to Thompson's e-mail, "My lawyer and I just received word from The Florida Bar that Blank Rome has just filed a Bar complaint against me. Ah, how stupid can one bunch of porn lawyers get?"

The "porn" reference refers to Blank Rome's representation of Take Two and Rockstar, other favorite targets of the Miami attorney.

Another Thompson e-mail to Bar counsel Barnaby Lee Min makes reference to Blank Rome's filing as "the third Bar complaint." As GamePolitics reported in late December, the Bar is already looking into Thompson's conduct in the Alabama video game case Strickland vs. Sony.

GamePolitics has confirmed with an official of the Florida Bar that three separate Thompson complaints are now under investigation: the latest Blank-Rome complaint, the Alabama Bar's complaint, and a matter involving shock jock Howard Stern. The official refused to speculate on when the investigations might be completed.

Kiwi Police See Potential Video Game Link in Beat-Down

Early sunday in Maraenui, New Zealand, a 31 year-old man was nearly killed by up to five youths who alledgedly kicked him repeatedly and may have attacked him with a tree branch. He was transported to a hospital in Wellington and is now in serious but stable condition.

According to Hawke's Bay Today, Napier CIB detective sergeant Mike Foster likened their attack to that of a video game, where the victim can sustain head attacks yet still carry on as if uninjured. Det. Foster added that many youths have been taught that violence was part of everyday life and was acceptable.

So far two youths, 16 and 17, have been arrested and charged with assault. They'll appear in Youth Court later today.

J: Like the horrific attacks in Florida on the homeless, I'm willing to bet the fact that real-life violence is considered "acceptable" is more to blame than any video-game where you can kick people without seriously injuring them.


GP: Just last month there was another case in New Zealand where an act of violence was linked to video games without evidence. In that instance, the New Zealand Game Developers Association was quick to respond. Let's hope they take a close look at this case as well.