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DVD Game Tests Players' Film Knowledge

7 Nov, 2002 By: Holly J. Wagner

Have you Scene It?

That's the question two game developers hope will be on everyone's lips with the introduction of their new DVD board game, Scene It!, which launched this month at stores including Nordstrom, Wizards of the Coast, Gamekeeper and Amazon.com.

So far most of the retailers carrying the game are in the toys and games or department store categories, but the game's creators, who spent 10 years developing it, are hoping the film-clip trivia game will catch on with video specialty retailers as well.

“We wanted to differentiate ourselves with the board game aspect,” said co-creator David Long (also CEO of Screenlife, the game's manufacturer). “We didn't want people to feel this was a PC game. We wanted them to know this is something you play sitting in the living room in front of your TV set.”

Retailing at $49.99, Scene It! includes a game board; a disc with movie clips and questions; four game pieces; movie trivia cards; “Buzz” cards that function similar to Chance or Community Chest cards in Monopoly; and two game dice. Each turn may involve a clip from the disc or questions from the cards.

Long and partner Craig Kinzer developed the game after improvising a film-clip trivia game on VHS for a Halloween party 10 years ago. The improvised game was a hit, but the technology wasn't ripe. “The game did not play right on VHS because of the linear play. You had to rewind too much,” Long said. “I bought a DVD a couple of years ago, and I knew this was the right technology.”

The disc for the game was developed at authoring house Digital Farm with “Optreve,” which retrieves clips at random, then retrieves questions at random. The system keeps track of what has already been played to keep from repeating questions.

There are more than 500 clips from 20th Century Fox, DreamWorks, MGM, Sony and Universal Studios in the first iteration of the game. Getting the studios' cooperation was a complication Long never expected. “We didn't know going into it how difficult it would be,” Long said. “If we had known, we might not have done it.”

But the studios that participated saw the promotional potential, he said. “They were very interested in promoting DVD,” Long said. “They loved the idea that it's another reason for people to buy a DVD player. We gave them a wish list, and they approved about 90 percent of the titles we gave them.”

There was another added degree of difficulty to get the DVD game to market. “Everyone you see in the game had to sign off on it,” Long explained. “So a number of them actually wanted to see the disc before they would sign off. So we had to send them the disc. More than 250 actors have agreed to appear in the game.”

Eventually, Screenlife hopes to release sequel game sets. “We're preparing another broad movie version, and we will get ideas from feedback on our Web site (sceneit.com, which also has a streaming demo of the game),” Long said. “Classic TV and movies are logical sequels.”

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