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About Judy

As WP's senior editor, I edit review and preview articles, attempt to keep up with the frantic pace of Rainier's news posts, and keep our reviewers on deadline, which is akin to herding cats. When I have a moment to myself and don't have my nose in a book, I like to play action/RPG, adventure and platforming games.

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'The Sims' Coming to A TV Near You?

by Judy on Jan. 15, 2005 @ 2:17 p.m. PST

Electronic Arts is considering an interactive TV show that would let viewers control the actions of the characters as in its popular game "The Sims." Will Wright, father of The Sims, has been toying with the idea for quite some time, but it seems to be materializing at last...

"One idea could be that you're controlling a family, telling them when to go to the kitchen and when to go to the bedroom, and with this mechanism you have gamers all over the world 'playing the show'," said Jan Bolz, vice president of marketing and sales for EA Europe.

The proposed show, which might involve viewers voting on possible actions, is still in the early stages, but EA confirmed it is in talks with several TV production companies. Bolz declined to disclose any additional details.

A TV show would be a major cross-over into popular culture as EA and other video game creators attempt to shed the image of an industry that mostly makes products that target young men.

"The Sims" lets gamers control the lives of everyday characters in an elaborate virtual world, and has been particularly successful in reaching out to women, who have traditionally scorned video games. Women account for about 60 percent of the game's more than 36 million sales to date.

The "Yourself!Fitness" personal training program for Xbox and the "SingStar Party" karaoke game for PlayStation 2 are two other recent examples of an industry that has reached beyond stereotypical video game subjects, despite the enormous popularity of violent games such as "Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas."

EA hopes that new platforms like the Sony PlayStation Portable (PSP) will do even more to broaden the industry's appeal. "I expect a lot from the PSP," said Gerhard Florin, EA's managing director of European publishing. "It's stylish like an iPod and you don't look like a nerdy teenager using it."

The next generations of Microsoft's Xbox and Sony's PlayStation will go even further by giving developers more computational firepower -- often measured in the number of polygons a computer can draw per second -- to invest game characters with realistic emotion, said Rory Armes, managing director of EA's UK studio.

"It's the subtleties, the eyes, the mouth -- 5,000 polygons doesn't really sell the emotion. With PS3 and XBox 2, we can go on the main character with 30,000-50,000 polygons," he said. "With that increased firepower, the 'Finding Nemo' video game looks just like the movie, but in real time."

Whatever EA's success in navigating the unpredictable currents of popular culture, there will always be people who are simply unwilling to embrace its product. However, Florin is optimistic that time is on his side.

"We're not attracting 50-year-old people, but that's okay," he said. "It's a generational question. The world is changing and no one can stop it."

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