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Coming Soon to a Theater Near You: A Giant, Audience-Controlled Video Game

June 3rd, 2007 by Hans Bjordahl :: see related comic

What’s going on here?

The backstory: MSNBC.com runs marketing campaign. As part of said campaign, MSNBC.com creates “NewsBreaker” video game that’s sort of like a charged-up version of Breakout, but with news headlines as part of the game. Then the twist: The game is set up in select movie theaters, where it’s projected on the big screen and motion sensors are used such that entire audience can control the paddle by moving their arms in unison this way or that. Much buzz ensues.

That’s all well and good, but frankly it raises a serious question: Namely, why haven’t we all been playing giant audience-controlled video games at the local cinemaplex for, like, years now? No seriously, how many minutes, if not hours, have we all spent waiting for the movie to start with nothing to distract us but a clunky slide show plodding through faded five-year-old movie trivia and blurry ads for local muffler shops? Who in Hollywood knew we had this technology and when did they know it?

The problem of declining movie attendance has been on Hollywood executives’ agenda for years now, and there’s a reason: The movie theater experience sucks, sucks big time, and every year seems to find a way to suck even more. If there were a giant, audience-controlled video game before every showing, now that would be a reason to put down the DVD and the Internet and the TiVo and get out to the actual theater. Now quick, someone in Hollywood get on that.

8 Responses to “Coming Soon to a Theater Near You: A Giant, Audience-Controlled Video Game”
giles bowkett wrote:

The problem of declining movie attendance has been on Hollywood executives’ agenda for years now

Not even! The movie industry’s been setting box-office records all summer. Everything in Hollywood goes in cycles, and that’s as true for being panicked about the future as it is about anything else. Hollywood executives are smug about the future.

Wolf Bogacz wrote:

>Not even! The movie industry’s been setting box-office records all summer.

Hardly. When compared to movie records on a consistent dollar basis, movies in theaters are on the decline. Inflation makes a movie’s cost and ticket income inevitably higher.

Some of the greates movies of the past are not rated higher money-wise because they just didn’t charge $10 a head in the 60’s and 70’s.
The better method for measuring movie popularity should be BIS (Butts in Seats) not the total take.

ThatGuy wrote:

Apples and Organges - “box-office” records as related in the media from Hollywood relate to revenue, not attendance. As Hollywood raises the price of the film rental to movie theaters, movie-makers claim it as higher revenue (ergo “box-office records”). Concurrently, theaters must raise ticket prices, which usually results in decreased attendance. Theater income is what is actually squeezed because ticket prices rarely actually cover the film rental. Ever wonder why you pay $6-$7 for a $.50 bag of popcorn when you go to the movies?

Instead of HOLLYWOOD exec’s working on getting audience-controlled games in the theater, it should be the theaters themselves. Or the gov’t, and just tie it to mind-control…

Sara wrote:

Speaking of u tube videos - have you seen the code monkey (song by Jonathan Coulton) video?

Marcus wrote:

Awesome! Check out this ping pong game that I made after watching this video :)

http://members.westnet.com.au/lmwan/PingPong.html

Michael Lantz wrote:

I’ve always wanted to see box office numbers related to the number of possible customers versus the percentage that go. Since the country has 300 million people and let’s say they pull in 75 million dollars at $10 a pop, then only 2.5% of the population saw the movie, not too impressive really.(I hope I got my decimals in the right place, if not, let me know)
Then we could compare that to movies from the past in the same format. This would be an accurate gauge of movie drawing power per movie.
And to see how the movies are doing overall just tally up the total of box office dollars and run the same formula for various years.

Michael Lantz wrote:

PS Don’t forget the all important ‘possible customers’ caveat. Example: for an R rated movie you have to factor out those not allowed into the theater.

THATguy wrote:

@Michael The math is correct. $75 million divided by $10 = 7.5 million viewers. Divide that into 300 million and you get 2.5%, which is pathetic if you think about it.

Also, you have to factor in repeat movie-goers. I know people who watch a movie 6,7, even more times in the theater.


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Bug Bash is a comic strip written and illustrated by Hans Bjordahl. Bug Bash is a comic strip about technology: managing technology, the business of technology. It's about project management and managing projects through the dull world of Rational Rose, use cases, and requirements. Functional requirements, user requirement, functional specifications, design specifications, call it what you want but it's still the bane of project managers. And when you're done with that, you can think about all the fun that comes with timelines, scheduling, estimates (PERT estimation anyone?) and resourcing until Gantt charts are coming out of your ears. Let's not forget the risk management in the software engineering life cycle. Maintaining the project is just as much fun, managing what was initially set out in requirements and trying to keep feature creep / scope creep in check with change management. If any of these words send nightmares to you, the project manager, then this site probably rings true with you. (Who Links Here?)