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Video Games Are Getting the Star Treatment

Interactive Media Craze Attracts Hollywood Directors

By Jose Antonio Vargas
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, February 2, 2005; Page C01

In a way, Goldie is like Doughboy, the Ice Cube character in the 1991 film "Boyz N the Hood."

Goldie is from the hard streets of South Central Los Angeles. He's 23, an ex-con with two strikes who learns there's been a contract put out on him -- on the very day that he leaves prison.

'The Chronicles of Riddick' gave birth to a video game version. (Joseph Lederer -- Universal Studios)

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"He's going to have to make choices," says John Singleton, who talks about Goldie as if he were the star of a sequel to "Boyz."

"Like one of the cats in the streets, Goldie's going to have to think for himself. Is he going to shoot at someone? Is he going to spare someone? What kind of person does he want to be?"

But Goldie isn't a film star, he's the star in a video game conceived, designed and directed by Singleton himself.

The game, Fear & Respect, is set for an October release. Snoop Dogg, or rather a virtual version of a 23-year-old Snoop Dogg, is Goldie.

Singleton, whose "Boyz" film earned two Oscar nominations and a place in the National Film Registry, is one of a small group of Hollywood directors who are straddling the worlds of video games and film.

"Films are films, video games are video games," says Singleton, 37. "But the key difference between the two is interactivity. Video games don't follow the traditional linear narrative. The story changes according to who plays it."

Singleton, who calls himself a "gaming enthusiast," owns an Xbox and a PlayStation 2, and spends a lot of time playing online games -- Crimson Skies, an Xbox Live game that he sometimes plays with the actor Jack Black, is a favorite. ("He's not that good," Singleton says of Black.)

Hollywood and Gamewood -- if the video game industry can be called that -- share a solid consumer base: males younger than 30. They're the guys rushing to see "Spider-Man 2" on the big screen on Friday night, then going home to play Spider-Man 2 on their game consoles all weekend. U.S. box office receipts last year totaled $9.2 billion; U.S. computer and video game software sales (excluding sales of consoles and accessories) totaled $7.2 billion. Each is eager for hit after hit after hit.

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