TDmonthly Magazine!
January 2006 | Vol. V - No. 1


Getting in the Game

DVD Games Immerse Players in Action

“There has been a decline in the theatrical DVD market … Now [people] are looking for something else to do with their DVD player.” Mitch Powers, Cannery Games
DVD interactive games were an idea a decade in the making. It began with David Long recording horror movie clips for a round of “Who Can Guess First?” at an annual Halloween party in 1992. It was such a hit, Long began developing a game, but soon realized his ideas and VHS technology wouldn’t merge. In 2000 he got his first DVD player and realized technology had caught up. Long created a company, Screenlife LLC, which released Scene It? in October 2002.

Success encourages imitation and three years later there are more than 60 DVD games vying for attention. Mitch Powers, vice president of Cannery Games, believes that the public is ready for them.

“There has been a decline in the theatrical DVD market,” Powers told TDmonthly Magazine. “Now [people] are looking for something else to do with their DVD player.”

There are two main types of DVD games: a contest pitting competitors against each other, or an adventure where players becomepart of the storyline. Compared to traditional board games, DVD games are faster paced and more social. “Everyone sees the clips at the same time, and wants to shout out the answer,” said David Long, co-founder and CEO of Screenlife. “We capitalize on the game show feel.”

Games such as Screenlife’s Scene It? and Hasbro’s Trivial Pursuit Pop Culture and Shout About Music are made up of question-and-answer activities that lend themselves to a variety of versions. The familiarity of following a similar format works for these companies; they can have “something for everyone” where “word of mouth spurs sales” according to Long. A couple that plays Scene It? Music at a dinner party may decide to buy Scene It? Harry Potter Edition for the kids or Scene It? Turner Classic Movies Edition for their parents.

Brian Johnson, president of B1 Games, also relies on his customers gravitating toward the familiar. He bases his games around familiar properties, such as the TV shows “24,” “The Amazing Race” and “American Chopper” and the comic book/film series “X-Men.” All will be released as DVD interactive games in the first quarter of 2006 with Pressman Toy, their distribution partner.

“We like to say we build an amazing game around the property … our game is not about an existing engine,” explained Johnson. “A true interactive experience is about game play, not trivia. For example, with "24" it isn’t about season one or season two; it’s about you stopping a terrorist threat.”

These kinds of games have a built-in audience. “The core audience of the property becomes the core market for the interactive DVD,” said Andrew Steiner, head of licensing and marketing for B1 Games. “However, the games will transcend the show's core audience and will appeal to a much wider market."

Although many games are based around an entertainment property, some appeal to other niches, such as b Equal’s The Bible DVD Game. Other games, such as The Madagascar DVD Game and Who Rules?, have reached an on-the-go audience because they don’t require a game board.

Long predicted that “increasing numbers of old standards will be adding a DVD element.” Several companies developed bingo games, and Hasbro released the classic Candy Land as a DVD interactive.

The social interaction encouraged by DVD games is also propelling their popularity. “Kids always seemed to be in the other room,” said Johnson. “This brings families back together.

But how are the products selling at the retail level? Jean Bitting, assistant manager of K B Toys at the Schuylkill Mall in Frackville, Pa., feels the DVD games are about as popular with consumers as last holiday season. "Of course last year was the first year they came out and everyone wanted one, but now they are coming down in price."

Bitting's store carries several different brands of DVD games but the original remains the most popular, perhaps because of TV advertising. "The ones people come into the store asking for are Scene It? and Scene It? Disney."

But once they get used to the DVD playing style, who's to say they won't crave more DVD game varieties? There are certainly enough out there for them to choose from.

What follows is more information on products mentioned in this article:

MSRP: $24.95
Age Range: 6 and up
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: General Games

This is a trivia game about animals hosted by the characters of the Disney movie, “Madagascar.” This boardless game has the ability to adjust to players’ different abilities by asking certain players easier or more difficult questions.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 5773      (added 12/7/2005)

MSRP: $29.99
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Religious
General Games

One of several games produced in conjunction with the A&E network (in this case, The History Channel), this boardless TV-DVD game hosted by Christian music artist Jeremy Camp takes players through both the Old and New Testaments of the Bible with the help of visual clips. b EQUAL’s games are especially attractive to families because of ‘a dynamically leveled playing field,’” according to Josh Anderson, Director of Product Development. The game adjusts to the knowledge of each player; if one player consistently answers incorrectly that player will be asked easier questions.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 5774      (added 12/7/2005)

MSRP: $24.99
Age Range: 13 and up
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: General Games

Who Rules? is a trivia game of more than 800 questions. Because the game requires only a DVD player and television it is open to new playing possibilities such as in the family car.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 5775      (added 12/7/2005)

Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Board Games

Quip It! is a high-speed game that tests players’ quick wit and creativity. Quip It! invites players to invent off-the-wall captions based on DVD visuals from unusual movie scenes, funny images and on-screen oddities.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 5478      (added 11/10/2005)

Age Range: 3 to 6
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Electronics

This new game combines the classic characters of the time-honored board game with the interactive nature of DVD technology. The game comes with one pop-and-play DVD, 20 gingerbread tokens and 24 floor mats to recreate the Candy Land game board in the home. Familiar characters lead children through three different games: King Candy´s Adventure Game, a color-matching game where children earn tokens for standing on the correct colors; Mr. Mint Says, a game of following directions, as youngsters only perform actions if Mr. Mint says; and the Grandma Nut Game, a unique version of musical chairs.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 3012      (added 2/25/2005)

Jodi M. WebbWriter's Bio: The mother of three children ages 13, 10 and 2, Jodi Webb started out as a toy seller. She´s happy to find a job where her accountant will let her write off her toy purchases! Read more articles by this author


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