Videogames Invade TV
CBS is bringing Konami Digital Entertainment's best-selling "Dance Dance Revolution" videogame franchise, which has sold over 4 million copies in the U.S. alone, to its "Saturday Morning Secret Slumber Party" line-up. The TV show will feature teen and tween contestants performing on the game in front of a Dance Revolution House Band. To keep viewers engaged, the show will challenge them to participate through onscreen cues. The show is part of a new inititiative that promotes exercise and healthy eating.
"Dance Dance Revolution" has become an international sensation since it launched in Japan in the lates 1990s. Introduced in the U.S. in 2001, the game requires players to perform dance moves in tune to the on-screen avatar by using a dance pad. The game even has a workout option that counts calories while a player is participating. Konami has shipped 10 different games in the U.S. over the past five years across all game platforms. Each new game brings licensed pop and dance songs. Kids become hooked on the game and end up getting a great workout without even realizing it. The game has been so successful at getting kids active that fitness centers like 24 Hour Fitness and the entire West Virginia Public Schools System use the videogame and dance pads as part of children's exercise programs.
DirecTV used E3 to announce its new professional videogame league. The satellite company has partnered with Best Buy, Mountain Dew and IGN.com to create the Championship Gaming Series. The new videogame league will launch in early 2007 and offer a full season of eight tournaments where professional videogame players can compete in teams on hit Xbox 360 and PC games for large cash prizes. The events will be tapes and televised through DirecTV as a live sporting event. IGN.com will cover the events online and offer round-the-clock information on the players and events.
Pro gaming had been popular in other countries for years, but it's just starting to take off in the U.S. DirecTV will hold three tune-up tournaments this year, beginning July 21, where it will focus on new technologies that will take viewers inside of the videogame worlds to watch the cyber athletes compete in games like "Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter" and "Halo 2." The idea behind the league is to build rivalries between teams just as real sports do. DirecTV will offer a full spectrum of original programming surrounding this league, profiling players and offering gamers tips and strategies on how to play better.
There are currently seven different professional gaming leagues in the world today. Each offers hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash and prizes to the best gamers in the world. While networks like MTV, HDNet, and G4 have featuring pro gaming, DirecTV will be the first to actually offer a full season league atmosphere. This fall, USA Network will air seven one-hour taped shows that chronicle the Major League Gaming series. And GSN is introducing a new show that will follow the top casual online gamers.
It seems like networks are taking the old "ff you can't beat them, join them" approach with videogames--offering new alternatives to get gamers in front of the "boob tube" passively, at least for an hour or two.
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