ANIMATION WORLD MAGAZINE - ISSUE 4.2 - MAY 1999

Internet & Interactive

Law Suit Blames Computer Games For Shootings. The families of Jessica James, Kayce Steger and Nicole Hadley, who were killed during a morning prayer meeting at Heath High School in West Paducah, Kentucky, USA during a shooting on Dec. 1, 1997 by Michael Carneal, a 14-year-old boy, filed a $130 million damage suit against several entertainment companies on Monday, saying they influenced his behavior. The suit claims that the boy was an avid user of the computer, playing computer games such as "Doom," "Quake," and "Mortal Kombat," which it said are known for their graphic violence. The computer games, the suit claimed, "trained Carneal to point and shoot a gun in a fashion making him an ... effective killer without teaching him any of the constraints or responsibilities needed to inhibit such a killing capacity." Carneal was sentenced to life imprisonment, with no chance of parole for 25 years in December 1998.

Viewers Animate MTV. Beginning May 3, MTV's Top Selection, a show on MTV European and Nordic Online Music Television, is taking a giant leap into the twenty-first century! By interacting on the web, viewers will be able to shape the contents and look of the show. Viewers will be able to vote, watch and listen to the show from MTV's website, as well as be able to download a graphics programme and create and send in their own animations. MTV will play the pick of these animations throughout the whole of Europe! For more information visit www.mtve.com

Mindscape Makes Babyz. The Learning Company's Mindscape Entertainment unit, creator of the best-selling Dogz and Catz family of virtual Petz characters, have announced plans to launch Babyz, the world's first virtual baby. Using voice recognition technology, Babyz owners can speak to their desktop playmates, each one of which has a unique look and personality. In time Babyz will learn to recognize their own names as well as those of several objects. They will also learn to understand the difference between good and bad behavior -- but no spanking allowed. Mindscape plans to include a microphone for the owner's computer in each Babyz package. "Babyz introduces a realism that is new to virtual life entertainment," said Chuck Kroegel, general manager of Mindscape Entertainment. "These computer babies truly look and act like real baby dolls, and the voice recognition feature makes them seem even more life-like. You have to see it to believe it." Additional features include noticeable growth milestones. For instance, over time Babyz get bigger, grow hair and get their first teeth; they also learn to speak, walk, play music, build with blocks, and play with toys. How they develop will depend on how well they are taught. Each Babyz package comes with one unique infant, but a visit to an online adoption center will let owners adopt up to two more Babyz. Multiple Babyz will interact with both their owners and each other. Potential customers can play with sample Babyz to decide if they want to buy their own. A PC version of Babyz is due this fall for an estimated street price of $29.99. Customers interested in inquiring about Babyz can visit www.babyz.net or call The Learning Company at 617/761-3000. Additional product information is available at www.mindscapegames.com.


Note: Readers may contact any Animation World Magazine contributor by sending an e-mail to editor@awn.com.


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