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Comedy Central plans 3-D game

Apr 23, 2001  •  Post A Comment

Comedy Central is planning to launch an online 3-D multiplayer game next week featuring a set of confused characters trying to maneuver through the intricate and discombobulating new media landscape.
The game, which borrows story elements from both futuristic science-fiction films such as “The Matrix” and lighthearted television sitcoms such as “Hogan’s Heroes,” allows users of ComedyCentral.com to manipulate onscreen creatures who have just arrived from an alien spatial and temporal dimension.
The bewildered characters are searching for a destination called “ComedyCentrum.com,” but instead find themselves stuck within the Comedy Central Web site.
Going to great lengths to embody the sci-fi concept of parallel universes in a home computing environment, the cable network has signed a deal with Finnish wireless provider Orchimedia. Under the arrangement, PC users playing along on their computers can watch the vagabond beings wander off the computer screen and onto a cellphone console.
The interactive game is the brainchild of Comedy Central’s new media duo of Kenneth Locker and John Sanborn, who believe new media is an important forum for developing Comedy Central’s edgy and irreverent brand of humor. The cable network is also in talks with XM Satellite Radio to develop a talk-radio version of the channel’s Web content.
Comedy Central has also joined the cavalcade of television studios who have recently joined Microsoft’s Content Builder Initiative, which is designed to help Hollywood pros create interactive television programming. The network is crafting an interactive version of “BattleBots,” tapping interactive advertising developer RespondTV to layer “pop-up” advertisements on top of the program.
Mr. Locker said he believes “BattleBots” is an ideal backdrop for interactive enhancements because of its fast-action format. Many cable television programming executives have been reluctant to embrace interactive television because they fear interactive enhancements may disrupt the flow of a show’s story line.
“With `South Park,’ it would be very intrusive because you’re actually watching the show,” Mr. Locker said.
The one emerging medium that Comedy Central remains wary of is video on demand, which the network fears may pose a threat to its traditional scheduled cable programs.
“We can’t undermine our first core business,” Mr. Locker said. Nevertheless, Comedy Central is in talks with VOD content provider Intertainer about a possible sale of the channel’s reruns to the video service.