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Column: Bell Game And Candle

COLUMN: Bell, Game, and Candle - "Other E3 Surprises Spoiled Before Their Announcement"

May 29, 2009 4:00 PM |

[In the final ever instalment of 'Bell, Game, and Candle', a GameSetWatch-exclusive column by writer Alex Litel, he follows up the the NSFW Reggie Fils-Aime E3 keynote to provide a sneak peek of other important bombshells to be revealed at the E3 Expo in Los Angeles next week.]

E3 2009 scoops? Sure, I've got plenty of them. Here's what's really being announced at the LA Convention Center (or thereabouts!) in just a few short days:

Star Wars: Chewbacca Origins: A Bar-Mitzvah and A Baptism: Even though I’m not a fan of Star Wars, I have seen all of the movies, and I’m pretty sure last year’s hit game Star Wars: Chewbacca Origins contradicted everything I had remembered about the films. And as many of you know, it turns out that Chewbacca was a typical kid growing up in Cincinnati in the early 1970s that accidentally tripped into his neighbor’s time machine and ended up in the past in a far-off galaxy.

This downloadable expansion episode tells the story of the half-Jewish/half-Christian twelve-year-old Chewy attempting to manage and deal with having both a Baptism and a Bar Mitzvah to prepare for. The content, which is dated for September, will be a timed exclusive for the Xbox 360 until early next year.

COLUMN: Bell, Game, and Candle - "An Obtained Copy of Reggie Fils-Aime’s E3 Keynote Speech"

May 24, 2009 4:00 PM |

['Bell, Game, and Candle' is a regular-ish GameSetWatch-exclusive column by writer Alex Litel, discussing stuff that happens - or doesn't happen - in the game business. In this edition, he returns from a three-month hiatus to provide the NSFW first of two exclusive E3 bombshells.]

Firstly, I would like to say welcome to all of the dweebs and non-dweebs who have to be here because their place of employment fired the dweebs.

Also, I would like to tell some jokes.

What is an item on the menu of a hip-hop-themed hot-dog stand? “Kanye Wurst”

What rhetorical question does a runner ask to inspire sympathy? “Have you ever jogged a mile in my shoes?”

COLUMN: Bell, Game, and Candle - 'IGN Reviews Citizen Kane: The Video Game'

February 28, 2009 4:03 PM |

['Bell, Game, and Candle' is a regular GameSetWatch-exclusive column by writer Alex Litel, discussing stuff that happens - or doesn't happen - in the game business. This time, he writes a response to Hilary Goldstein's editorial about Resident Evil 5.]

For what it seems like to be eons, the question of “What is the Citizen Kane of video games?” has been wondered by the gaming-journalism-industrial-complex’s proletariat and its bourgeoisie.

Can it be possible that Orson Welles’ seminal 1940 pièce de résistance of cinema of the same name, a film about the rise and fall of a media magnate Charles Foster Kane—played by Welles himself—loosely based off of the life of William Randolph Heart, can be a scenario where gameplay is existent?

One would logically think the best we could be hoping for is a strategy simulation based on the newspaper industry intertwined with the grandiose profoundness of Kojima-style storytelling and romantically lengthy filmic extracts.

COLUMN: Bell, Game, and Candle - 'Noby Noby Boy Is Rich'

February 1, 2009 4:00 PM |

['Bell, Game, and Candle' is a regular GameSetWatch-exclusive column by writer Alex Litel, discussing stuff that happens - or doesn't happen - in the game business. This time, he writes about the first game is looking forward to since Imagine: Party Babyz.]


A handful of creatives are presenting their pitches for one of the first productions of the newly independent DreamWorks' first productions—a film adaptation of the video game Noby Noby Boy.

Brett Ratner
I am more than infinitely qualified for this film: I am currently working on an adaptation of the hypersexual interactive Greek epic God of War, and I have a compendious knowledge of the American condition. My vision would not stray much from the thematic overtures established by the monumental American cinematic zenith Rush Hour 2, but it would also be intertwined with the familial histrionics of The Family Man, Money Talks’ cunning economic satire, and the perfected, thrilling exploration of an altered psyche from Red Dragon.

Michael Bay
My love for Noby Noby Boy roots in that it shies far away from the evergreen trend of increasingly convoluted reasons for killing people in occasionally exotic locales that a healthy portion of video games are boggled down by. There is a genuine opportunity here to accurately portray the parochial chaos that comes from a biological anomaly and really make a cogent study of the communal, intrapersonal and environmental effects that arise from such. Most of all, there is a sincere probability of ambition unobstructed by formula and unadulterated by malfeasance; I am adverse to profferings, but this provides a ceaselessly fascinating thematic query that I hope to tackle.

COLUMN: Bell, Game, and Candle - 'A Primer on the Future of Games as Art'

January 9, 2009 4:00 PM |

['Bell, Game, and Candle' is a regular GameSetWatch-exclusive column by writer Alex Litel, discussing stuff that happens - or doesn't happen - in the game business. This time, he tells a horror tale of what happens when games become a socially accepted as an artistic medium.]

As you may have read, I recently traveled a few months to the future, but I did not really venture beyond the couch where I typically type my illustrious prose and MacBook Pro (which has the Time Travel widget I use for temporal exploits) I typically utilize to type my illustrious prose.

Going to a couch three months in the future is hardly time travel; it is more like hibernation for the lazy, asocial sorts.

And since this is a Mac, the widget was sadly only limited to two options— “Williamsburg” and “Silver Lake”—because people assume only hipsters use Macs (not true, shallow people verisimilar to hipsters like me and Bay Area residents use Macs too).

By the way, I chose “2019” because I was curious to see how accurate those predictions from the Superstruct are. And as a semi-Angeleno, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t interested in the accuracy of Blade Runner.

The process of time-travel is relatively simple: set the options, click “ok” on the widget and wait a few minutes (and don’t shut or disconnect or interrupt the computer, otherwise you might mess up your keyboard and get permanently stuck in the famed white room where Mark Mothersbaugh is on loop).

Yes, in the future you have to carry around the computer if you care to get back, but one does not have to keep the laptop open.

COLUMN: Bell, Game, and Candle - 'The Top Fifty Press Release Quotes Of 2008'

December 20, 2008 8:00 AM |

['Bell, Game, and Candle' is a regular GameSetWatch-exclusive column by writer Alex Litel, discussing stuff that happens - or doesn't happen - in the game business. This time, he is here with his own year-end round-up.]

Here is my contribution to the reflective canon, a look back at the best in things said in press releases in this fine year.

Over the past few days, I have scoured through more than 1,500 press releases, and I am certain that I have found the very best of the best.

Also, I should probably note I have excluded Mark Jacobs, as his contributions are so far and beyond anyone else that his inclusion would simply turn this into a countdown. In his absence, the top quote will be awarded an award with his namesake.

(Really, including statements like "We want any and all interested players to be able to join the ranks of Order and Destruction, regardless of location or language. The battle between Realms can only get better as more warriors join the fight for the Age of Reckoning." or "In three days the real battle begins -- we have declared September 18th the 'Day of Reckoning,' and WAR will soon be upon us!" would make things unfair.)

The Mark Jacobs Award for Corporate Communicative Achievement

“The game All Star Cheer Squad was designed with the growing number of girls on Wii and Nintendo DS in mind. We strived to deliver an authentic cheer experience for those players and believe this partnership with CoverGirl is a unique opportunity to do just that. The CoverGirl brand and its spokespeople are instantly recognizable among our target demographic and will further immerse players in the competitive cheerleading world.”
Jim Huntley, director of global brand management, THQ

Expressing approval of indoctrinating imperfection into malleable minds without inciting even the slightest indignation in the blogosphere is nothing short of top-flight cunning. If I could give this award to more than one person, I would give it to all the those in the industry—seemingly universally male—who have used their empiricism to speak on the interests of young girls. But I cannot, so I honor the sheer epitome.

Read on for the next, uhh, 49 quotes:

COLUMN: Bell, Game, and Candle - 'A Modest, But Brash Proposal'

December 2, 2008 4:00 PM |

['Bell, Game, and Candle' is a regular GameSetWatch column by writer Alex Litel, discussing stuff that happens - or doesn't happen - in the game business. This time, he borrows from the EA/Take-Two saga to fulfill his entrepreneurial aspirations.]

Dear Brash Entertainment Proprietors:

I am writing to you to formally express my interest in acquiring the name “Brash Entertainment” and to propose a transaction in which I would acquire the exclusive, perpetual rights to the “Brash Entertainment” moniker for $300 in cash and, in accordance with the advice of my financial adviser, a dozen cookies from a bakery of your choice (value up to $25).

This proposed nomenclatural transfer would infuse some much-needed liquidity to pay off mounting debts you are facing. Based on the recent sale of the majority of likewise financially addled Midway Games for $100,000, my calculations show that this offer provides a delicious premium of more than 50% on the fair market value of about $200.

To sidestep the imminent corrosion of value, I believe the quick conclusion of this transaction is in the best interest of the both of us. Hesitance will prove disastrous for the both of us in today’s troubled economy and presents a serious obstacle to our respective future business endeavors.

I also believe that the proposed entitlement exchange would eventually create additional value the name would not acquire otherwise with my plan to create a Brash Entertainment that combines the best in independent film properties with the best talent in independent gaming that targets an audience thus far untargeted by gaming companies.

The initial lineup would include game versions of Academy Award-nominated drama Half-Nelson, cult horror flick Stay Alive, mind-bending thriller π, heist comedy Bottle Rocket, and crime drama Hard Eight—and these titles would be distributed through cheap, accessible download services. The low cost of licenses combined with the low cost of entry and low development cost would create a high margin opportunity.

Considerable time and resources have been put forth in developing this offer, and I have personally approved its disclosure. My offer is not contingent on any financing requirement. I have completed a thorough review of Brash’s prior and once-future output and am prepared to progress immediately on a transaction with no impediment to either party. Given recent reportage that indicates a dearth of professional activity, I feel it is fully reasonable to expect a reply by the close of this business week on Friday, December 4, 2008.


Alex Litel
Extraordinary Professional

[Alex Litel can be reached at [email protected] and occasionally found at alexlitel.blogspot.com. He does sympathize with developers and publishing staff affected by the Brash situation, so don't start.]

COLUMN: Bell, Game, and Candle - 'Press Releases from the Future'

November 12, 2008 4:00 PM |

['Bell, Game, and Candle' is a regular GameSetWatch column by writer Alex Litel, discussing stuff that happens - or doesn't happen - in the game business. This time - he travels into the future to bring back press releases.]

EA Signs the Legendary David Lynch for Three Game Deal
Auteur behind Blue Velvet and Mulholland Drive to elevate the plane of interactive entertainment

Electronic Arts today announced that cinematic legend David Lynch will bring his unique talents to the development of three original games. Lynch will lead development of the games with a team at Pandemic Studios in Los Angeles, the same studio recently released open-world title Mercenaries 2: World of Flames and the forthcoming The Lord of the Rings: Conquest. Lynch's acclaimed works include Oscar-nominated classics such as Mulholland Dr., Blue Velvet, and The Elephant Man. He is presently devoting his time to an array of multimedia projects.

Under the agreement with Asymmetrical Productions, EA will co-own the intellectual properties and the game franchises will be co-developed, published and distributed worldwide by EA. The relationship between Lynch and EA includes efforts to extend the game franchises into theatrical motion pictures. Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

“The sheer promise of technology has struck me as a bellwether of innovation; for that reason, I am excited to be entering a new medium and proving it capable of handling a scathing, soaring complexity,” said Lynch. “By taking the more arduous road of creating computer games without the use of computers, I believe that we will set an inspirational precedent for interactive narratives.”

The collaboration will also give Lynch unprecedented control over the marketing and publicity of the games, offering an imaginative experience prior to the release of the game certain to intrigue Lynch fans and gamers. Starting today, fans will find a clues embedded within Lynch’s daily weather forecast at his website davidlynch.com.

COLUMN: Bell, Game, and Candle - 'The Most Egregious Tale Ever Committed to Word Processor'

October 19, 2008 8:00 AM |

['Bell, Game, and Candle' is a regular GameSetWatch column by writer Alex Litel, discussing stuff that happens in the game business. This time - a conversation probes advertising, relationships, and the non-gamer's perception of games and gamers.]

A few days ago, I was ambulating about a metropolitan hotel after hearing word of an advertising summit (my curiosity especially peaked following a Mad Men binge) and noticed an eight-foot-tall hovering, cerulean being clamoring claims that he is “an advertising legend” to the concierge. This occurrence terrified yet intrigued me; I felt I had to talk this person.

Upon closer examination, I noticed a proximate nametag that said “Cory Van Starsdale” and “Massive Inc,” the in-game advertising subsidiary of Microsoft. I thought to myself, “Hey, I have found the topic for the next ‘Bell, Game, and Candle,’ which means I do not have to actually play a game.” Still slightly quaking, I approached Cory and asked if he would agree to an interview. I thankfully received a rather enthusiastic “yes.” What follows is a transcription of our discourse.

Hello there. Would you like to start by introducing yourself?

My name is Cory Van Starsdale, and I am an immaculate world-renowned world champion visionary of vision.

Would you care to qualify that statement?

I am a world-renowned world champion visionary of vision. I invented and won all the Olympics; set the records in all of them. To this day, my records have not been broken.

When was this exactly?

The 1999 Newark Fall Olympics.

COLUMN: Bell, Game, and Candle - 'Monochromatic Musings'

October 3, 2008 4:00 PM |

['Bell, Game, and Candle' is a regular GameSetWatch column by writer Alex Litel, discussing stuff that happens in the game business. This time - a sociopolitical analysis of recently released Wii platformer de Blob is abound.]

For the past week or so, I seem to be reading the financial crisis into everything I watch, hear or play—Annie Hall, Dear Science and even de Blob1 suddenly have an acquired meaning. This might have some psychological significance, but I would attribute it far more to the topic ‘s ubiquity in present news cycles. Last Thursday, I waggled my way through Chroma City Uptown level of de Blob, where I transformed financial institutions2 into music halls. Something that was merely an ironic happenstance at the time—financial institutions are becoming so valueless that they might as well be music halls.

The next day I went back to that Uptown level and realized that you were transforming a private entity (a financial institution) into a public one (a music hall). Of course, private proprietorship to public proprietorship is one of the definientia of communism.