Theatre ads 2.0 get interactive

by Paul Jay, CBC News online

Filmgoers have to time their entrance into the theatre carefully for the latest summer blockbuster. If they want to get a good seat they might choose to come early, but there's a drawback: a seemingly endless loop of advertisements and trailers.

Viewers in the United States, however, are getting to experiment with a new interactive game that turns the audience into human joysticks.

As CNet reports: As part of a multimedia campaign to get people more involved with its web news content, MSNBC.com has launched a game, called NewsBreaker Live, that plays in movie theatres. A motion-sensitive camera in the front of the theater measures how the audience is moving its arms. The camera then translates that collective motion to an onscreen paddle that players use to bounce a ball back up to the top of the screen to knock out blocks.

The theatre version is based on a web version of the game on MSNBC.com where a single player moves a paddle left and right with a keyboard.

YouTube has a promotional video of the game's tour of U.S. theatres, launched in conjunction with the communications firm SS+K.

NewsBreaker Live is one of a group of interactive games developed five years ago by researchers at MIT, Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Washington. MIT's Dan Maynes-Aminzade details some of the them here and includes a link to the research paper Techniques for Interactive Audience Participation.

We're not sure if it's as much fun as the YouTubers make it seem, but it sure beats doing the wave.