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Video Games Prime Movers Show Off New Dimensions at E3 2010

Video Games Prime Movers Show Off New Dimensions at E3 2010 (photo)

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Every year, video game developers and the gamers who love their creations flock to Los Angeles for the Electronic Entertainment Expo, otherwise known as E3, a showcase of the hottest new titles and trends for the upcoming year. The industry’s biggest studios, designers and publishers all compete for the precious hands-on time that generates the hype so crucial to making their games a success.

Throughout the three-day extravaganza, the expo floor’s an intense cacophony of music, game sounds and occasionally frantic yelling. And on top of all of that, the platform holders — the companies who makes the PC and console hardware those games run on — offer arguments as to why a PC, Wii, Xbox 360 or Playstation 3 is superior to its competitors.

Ever since video gaming became a pop culture phenomenon in the 1980s, gamers have been pushing buttons and moving controllers to battle giant monsters or explore alien landscapes. But at this year’s E3, there are signs that button-mashing may be getting replaced by arm-waving and body contortions.

The rising trend of gesture-controlled gaming started in 2006 when Nintendo introduced their revolutionary Wii console. Using a remote and nunchuk, the Wii replicated the players’ movements on TV screens, letting them bowl, box or play tennis in a simple and fun way. The Wii became a huge success, and now Sony’s Playstation and Microsoft’s Xbox 360 are showing off their own motion gaming add-ons.

Announced this year at the Game Developers’ Conference, the Playstation 3’s motion controller goes by the name Move. With a bulb-tipped wand and a sub-controller used for navigation, it will work with a camera to capture movements in real time for a variety of different games.

It’s more precise than the Wii and the better graphics on the PS3 make games built for the Move look incredibly realistic. Sony’s touting this realism, along with the ability to play established franchises that hardcore gamers love — like military third-person shooter “SOCOM 4: U.S. Navy SEALs” — with Move, as an advantage over Nintendo.

Sony also trotted out the first steps of its 3D strategy, coinciding with a software update that lets PS3 users play select titles in 3D. Of course, you need a bleeding-edge 3D-capable HDTV to take advantage of that viewing mode. (Conveniently, the Playstation division’s just one part of a huge conglomerate that also sells 3D TVs.)

06252010_killzone3a.jpgThe marquee title used to show off the PS3 3D experience was “Killzone 3,” a sci-fi first-person shooter. Playing the FPS with 3D glasses made the alien landscape seem even more vast, foreign and hostile. One giant gun you get to carry stretched far out into the background and enemies wearing jetpacks floated away from the screen, threatening to blast the viewer right in the face. Still, ten or 15 minutes of watching and playing KZ3 made eyes water and heads ache, so the kind of three- to four-hour marathon session usually enjoyed by FPS players will be a lot tougher to enjoy.

While Sony’s Move controllers are looking to improve on the idea of controller-based gesture input, Microsoft wants to do away with the controller altogether. The Kinect add-on for the Xbox 360 uses a camera that senses depth and tracks your skeleton to allow for full-body control of a whole series of games. Kinect will let you run hurdles in a track event and even play with a baby tiger. Its voice recognition will let you control playback of movies and TV shows, too. Here’s my Q&A with a Sega developer about “Sonic Free Riders,” the publisher’s initial efforts on Kinect:

Confident in their lead in the home console arms race, Nintendo’s big push was on the handheld front, with the debut of the Nintendo 3DS. The next evolutionary step of their wildly popular DS portable, the 3DS also traffics in the third dimension, but does so without requiring any special glasses. It seems that there’s a lenticular screen interpolating offset images. The slider on the side of the unit changes just how offset they are, which creates more or less depth. The slider also lets you turn the 3D off entirely, too.

Ushering in the 3DS is the return of the company’s beloved “Kid Icarus” franchise. Long absent from a starring role in his own game, angelic hero Pit flew through webs of energy and over cloudy skyscapes in the demo shown after the Nintendo press conference featured.


Games won’t be the only content on the 3DS, though; major movie studios have also pledged to make their films available on the portable. Slated to show up on 3DS are titles like “How To Train Your Dragon” and Disney’s upcoming “Tangled.” Another added feature the 3DS will sport is a built-in two-lens camera so users can snap their own depth-laden images.

All of this means that, this coming fall, there’ll be a massive battle to see who comes out on top of the motion-gaming heap. Whether it’s Playstation Move, Kinect for the Xbox 360 or Nintendo’s Wii, each system will have lots of cool new experiences for their fans. So it’s gamers all over the world who will be the real winners.

[Additional photos: Playing “Sonic Free Riders”; “Killzone 3,” Sony, 2011; Nintendo 3DS]

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WTF Films

Artfully Off

Celebrity All-Star by Sisters Weekend is available now on IFC's Comedy Crib.

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Sisters Weekend isn’t like other comedy groups. It’s filmmaking collaboration between besties Angelo Balassone, Michael Fails and Kat Tadesco, self-described lace-front addicts with great legs who write, direct, design and produce video sketches and cinematic shorts that are so surreally hilarious that they defy categorization. One such short film, Celebrity All-Star, is the newest addition to IFC’s Comedy Crib. Here’s what they had to say about it in a very personal email interview…


IFC: How would you describe Celebrity All-Star to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

Celebrity All-Star is a short film about an overworked reality TV coordinator struggling to save her one night off after the cast of C-List celebrities she wrangles gets locked out of their hotel rooms.

IFC: How would you describe Celebrity All-Star to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Sisters Weekend: It’s this short we made for IFC where a talent coordinator named Karen babysits a bunch of weird c-list celebs who are stuck in a hotel bar. It’s everyone you hate from reality TV under one roof – and that roof leaks because it’s a 2-star hotel. There’s a magician, sexy cowboys, and a guy wearing a belt that sucks up his farts.


IFC: What was the genesis of Celebrity All-Star?

Celebrity All-Star was born from our love of embarrassing celebrities. We love a good c-lister in need of a paycheck! We were really interested in the canned politeness people give off when forced to mingle with strangers. The backstory we created is that the cast of this reality show called “Celebrity All-Star” is in the middle of a mandatory round of “get to know each other” drinks in the hotel bar when the room keys stop working. Shows like Celebrity Ghost Hunters and of course The Surreal Life were of inspo, but we thought it
was funny to keep it really vague what kind of show they’re on, and just focus on everyone’s diva antics after the cameras stop rolling.

IFC: Every celebrity in Celebrity All-Star seems familiar. What real-life pop personalities did you look to for inspiration?

Sisters Weekend: Anyone who is trying to plug their branded merch that no one asked for. We love low-rent celebrity. We did, however, directly reference Kylie Jenner’s turd-raison lip color for our fictional teen celebutante Gibby Kyle (played by Mary Houlihan).


IFC: Celebrity seems disgusting yet desirable. What’s your POV? Do you crave it, hate it, or both?

Sisters Weekend: A lot of people chase fame. If you’re practical, you’ll likely switch to chasing success and if you’re smart, you’ll hopefully switch to chasing happiness. But also, “We need money. We need hits. Hits bring money, money bring power, power bring fame, fame change the game,” Young Thug.


IFC: Who are your comedy idols?

Sisters Weekend: Mike grew up renting “Monty Python” tapes from the library and staying up late to watch 2000’s SNL, Kat was super into Andy Kaufman and “Kids In The Hall” in high school, and Angelo was heavily influenced by “Strangers With Candy” and Anna Faris in the Scary Movie franchise, so, our comedy heroes mesh from all over. But, also we idolize a lot of the people we work with in NY-  Lorelei Ramirez, Erin Markey, Mary Houlihan, who are all in the film, Amy Zimmer, Ana Fabrega, Patti Harrison, Sam Taggart. Geniuses! All of Em!

IFC: What’s your favorite moment from the film?

Sisters Weekend: I mean…seeing Mary Houlihan scream at an insane Pomeranian on an iPad is pretty great.

See Sisters Weekend right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib

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Reality? Check.

Baroness For Life

Baroness von Sketch Show is available for immediate consumption.

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Baroness von Sketch Show is snowballing as people have taken note of its subtle and not-so-subtle skewering of everyday life. The New York Times, W Magazine, and Vogue have heaped on the praise, but IFC had a few more probing questions…

IFC: To varying degrees, your sketches are simply scripted examples of things that actually happen. What makes real life so messed up?

Aurora: Hubris, Ego and Selfish Desires and lack of empathy.

Carolyn: That we’re trapped together in the 3rd Dimension.

Jenn: 1. Other people 2. Other people’s problems 3. Probably something I did.

IFC: A lot of people I know have watched this show and realized, “Dear god, that’s me.” or “Dear god, that’s true.” Why do people have their blinders on?

Aurora: Because most people when you’re in the middle of a situation, you don’t have the perspective to step back and see yourself because you’re caught up in the moment. That’s the job of comedians is to step back and have a self-awareness about these things, not only saying “You’re doing this,” but also, “You’re not the only one doing this.” It’s a delicate balance of making people feel uncomfortable and comforting them at the same time.


IFC: Unlike a lot of popular sketch comedy, your sketches often focus more on group dynamics vs iconic individual characters. Why do you think that is and why is it important?

Meredith: We consider the show to be more based around human dynamics, not so much characters. If anything we’re more attracted to the energy created by people interacting.

Jenn: So much of life is spent trying to work it out with other people, whether it’s at work, at home, trying to commute to work, or even on Facebook it’s pretty hard to escape the group.

IFC: Are there any comedians out there that you feel are just nailing it?

Aurora: I love Key and Peele. I know that their show is done and I’m in denial about it, but they are amazing because there were many times that I would imagine that Keegan Michael Key was in the scene while writing. If I could picture him saying it, I knew it would work. I also kind of have a crush on Jordan Peele and his performance in Big Mouth. Maya Rudolph also just makes everything amazing. Her puberty demon on Big Mouth is flawless. She did an ad for 7th generation tampons that my son, my husband and myself were singing around the house for weeks. If I could even get anything close to her career, I would be happy. I’m also back in love with Rick and Morty. I don’t know if I have a crush on Justin Roiland, I just really love Rick (maybe even more than Morty). I don’t have a crush on Jerry, the dad, but I have a crush on Chris Parnell because he’s so good at being Jerry.



IFC: If you could go back in time and cast yourselves in any sitcom, which would it be and how would it change?

Carolyn: I’d go back in time and cast us in The Partridge Family.  We’d make an excellent family band. We’d have a laugh, break into song and wear ruffled blouses with velvet jackets.  And of course travel to all our gigs on a Mondrian bus. I feel really confident about this choice.

Meredith: Electric Mayhem from The Muppet Show. It wouldn’t change, they were simply perfect, except… maybe a few more vaginas in the band.

Binge the entire first and second seasons of Baroness von Sketch Show now on and the IFC app.

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G.I. Jeez

Stomach Bugs and Prom Dates

E.Coli High is in your gut and on IFC's Comedy Crib.

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Brothers-in-law Kevin Barker and Ben Miller have just made the mother of all Comedy Crib series, in the sense that their Comedy Crib series is a big deal and features a hot mom. Animated, funny, and full of horrible bacteria, the series juxtaposes timeless teen dilemmas and gut-busting GI infections to create a bite-sized narrative that’s both sketchy and captivating. The two sat down, possibly in the same house, to answer some questions for us about the series. Let’s dig in….


IFC: How would you describe E.Coli High to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

BEN: Hi ummm uhh hi ok well its like umm (gets really nervous and blows it)…

KB: It’s like the Super Bowl meets the Oscars.

IFC: How would you describe E.Coli High to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

BEN: Oh wow, she’s really cute isn’t she? I’d definitely blow that too.

KB: It’s a cartoon that is happening inside your stomach RIGHT NOW, that’s why you feel like you need to throw up.

IFC: What was the genesis of E.Coli High?

KB: I had the idea for years, and when Ben (my brother-in-law, who is a special needs teacher in Philly) began drawing hilarious comics, I recruited him to design characters, animate the series, and do some writing. I’m glad I did, because Ben rules!

BEN: Kevin told me about it in a park and I was like yeah that’s a pretty good idea, but I was just being nice. I thought it was dumb at the time.


IFC: What makes going to proms and dating moms such timeless and oddly-relatable subject matter?

BEN: Since the dawn of time everyone has had at least one friend with a hot mom. It is physically impossible to not at least make a comment about that hot mom.

KB: Who among us hasn’t dated their friend’s mom and levitated tables at a prom?

IFC: Why do you think the world is ready for this series?

BEN: There’s a lot of content now. I don’t think anyone will even notice, but it’d be cool if they did.

KB: A show about talking food poisoning bacteria is basically the same as just watching the news these days TBH.

Watch E.Coli High below and discover more NYTVF selections from years past on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

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