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Once you've built a universe from a single-celled creature to an intergalactic empire, what do you do for an encore? If you're Spore creator Will Wright, you want to do something stupid.
Namely, Stupid Fun Club, an "entertainment think tank" that Wright says will "create new forms of entertainment on a variety of platforms," including video games, movies, TV shows, Web sites and toys. Wright launched it in 2001, but he's now leaving Electronic Arts to run the Stupid Fun Club full-time.
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Wright's Maxis Studios will remain part of EA, and his departure doesn't mean the end of his two most famous franchises, The Sims and Spore. The Sims 3 will arrive on schedule in June, and EA has plenty of Spore add-ons in the pipeline.
The software publisher has every intention of staying in business with Wright, and it has a substantial investment in Stupid Fun Club. "We believe in Will's vision for Stupid Fun Club, and we're looking forward to partnering with Will and his team long into the future," EA CEO John Riccitiello says — which means EA will have first crack at any game ideas that emerge from the think tank.
"The entertainment industry is moving rapidly into an era of revolutionary change," Wright says. "Stupid Fun Club will explore new possibilities that are emerging from this sublime chaos."
Movies and video games based on ongoing wars are risky propositions, but video games seem to strike an even rawer nerve. For example, when Sony tried to trademark the phrase "shock and awe" shortly after the Iraq war began in 2003, the resulting uproar led the company to quickly withdraw the application.
Nonetheless, Konami and developer Atomic Games are forging ahead with Six Days in Fallujah, inspired by the November 2004 battle between U.S. troops and Iraqi insurgents. The game "is being developed in collaboration with over three dozen U.S. Marines who fought in the battle because this is how they want their stories to be told," a Konami spokesman said.
Gold Star Families Speak Out, an organization for families of U.S. troops killed in Iraq, reacted quickly. "For Konami and Atomic Games to minimize the reality of an ongoing war and at the same time profit off the deaths of people close to us by making it 'entertaining' is despicable," the group said.
Konami acknowledged the controversy, saying, "We are making every effort to address these sentiments within the military and civilian communities."
And some veterans are looking forward to Six Days. "Hopefully it will bolster support for military veterans by giving civilians insight into what this war was actually like for them," Army Sgt. Kevin Smith told G4TV.com.