Hollywood embraces online gaming

With their fantasy plots and reports of Japanese players dying in ‘World of Warcraft’ (above) after forgetting to eat, it’s fair to say the Massive Mu

With their fantasy plots and reports of Japanese players dying in ‘World of Warcraft’ (above) after forgetting to eat, it’s fair to say the Massive Multiplayer Online game (MMO) doesn’t currently have the greatest social standing.

Hollywood producers, though, have got big plans to make the virtual worlds mainstream by dual-releasing MMOs on Xbox 360 and PS3 with popular TV shows and films.

One of the biggest franchises currently in production is ‘X Quest’ from Spectrum MediaWorks, which was created by Alex Seropian of Bungie and Halo fame.

The game, which will be more science fiction than fantasy themed, will ship simultaneously next spring with a reality TV series from Fox Broadcasting.

The ‘real’ show will chuck two teams of seven contestants into a space simulator, with gamers being able to access and interact with the world via their next-gen consoles.

In a brow-furrowing merging of the entertainment worlds, successful gamers could then earn the chance to appear in the show themselves, a scenario that could well trigger an avalanche of ‘what is reality?’ pop philosophy books.

X Quest isn’t the only franchise with such ambitious plans either – James ‘Terminator’ Cameron is also rumoured to be interested in combining one of his future movies with an MMO release, according to Reuters.

It could happen sooner rather than later too – he’s just joined the board of Multiverse, which has produced a program that lets you create your own home-brew game for as little as £6,000 rather than the millions of pounds today's titles cost. Life-consuming Halo 2 may be, but it's just the virtual tip of the online gaming iceberg.