We got game

Television shows have been fodder for interactive games since the board game ruled the living room. Now, some of CBS' hits inspire video games.

TVParty.com

It's a massive business, worth more than $20 billion annually in software and hardware sales alone. Its influence reaches every corner of our society and is as mainstream as it comes. I'm not talking about the television industry, believe it or not. I'm talking about video games.

Interactive games, like so many of the products and trends in the marketplace, come straight out of the "everything old is new again" file. Flashback to 1960, when CBS aired the show "Video Village," produced by Heatter-Quigley, the creators of "Hollywood Squares." The show was built around a "living board game" concept. It was my all-time favorite game show.

Two contestants were tokens on a life-size game board with three streets: Money Street, Bridge Street, and Magic Mile. Players rolled a giant six-sided die in a birdcage-like contraption, and their partners would advance along the course.

The same year, Milton Bradley released a board game "home version" of the game. For a kid with dreams of being in the TV business, who was obsessed with "Video Village" the show, the board game was a dream come true. It let me play along at home and imagine I was part of the game and story. Call it interactive video 1.0.

Thanks to the power of the Internet--specifically eBay--I found the board game again recently. It was a little dusty and worn, but with memories as vivid as the money cage. What a great title for a concept that would prove to be prophetic. "Video Village": a world connected in a community of video.

Then as now, the power of the "Video Village" brand was driven first by exposure on television, before becoming a tangible product that consumers could play and interact with at home. The show itself was a brand that people, myself included, became passionate fans of and wanted to play themselves rather than just passively watch.

Today, several CBS shows have become the inspiration for video games, with many more to come. Our current titles include:

It's just more proof that fans love our shows so much that they are eager to experience them in new and interactive ways. This speaks to the power of world-class content to capture people's imaginations and inspire them to extend the TV experience to exciting new platforms. It's a whole new world for entertainment brands, and we are excited to be playing along.

About the author

    George Schweitzer's position as chief marketing officer at CBS gives him a unique opportunity not only to observe but also to help shape the ways technology is altering the television industry. A communications major at Boston University who joined CBS after graduation some 30 years ago, George is also an unabashed technology geek who specializes in the latest home automation and entertainment gear.

     

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