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The virtual trail: Bringing T.I.'s life to the video game world

August 4, 2009 |  4:07 pm

Ti400 When rappers boast about their “game,” it usually refers to their success with the opposite sex, but if the makers behind Platinum Life have their way, the word will receive an entirely different context. Indeed, Austin-based Heatwave Interactive has announced a partnership with T.I. and his record label, Grand Hustle Entertainment, to create a hip-hop-inspired video game in which users navigate a musician’s career from the dingy dive bar circuit to stadium shows.

According to the producer of Platinum Life, Mykel Mitchell, the game strives to portray the perils of the music business in a realistic light. 

“Expect an experience authentic to the hip-hop lifestyle. Our game will not be about hard-core violence, but about the elements and challenges unique to living the hip-hop lifestyle,” Mitchell said. “There are many challenges that get in the way of one’s path from zero to hero.”

And if they were going to pick a poster boy for the trials and travails of the industry, few come more appropriate than the multi-platinum-selling, Grammy-winning T.I., who is currently in prison serving a 366-day sentence on a federal weapons charge....

“We’re not basing it on any of his challenges directly, but in the spirit of what he’s gone through and continues to go through," said Anthony Castoro, a self-professed hip-hop fan and the co-founder and chief creative office of Heatwave Interactive. "The idea that you can be at the apex of your career and still have serious challenges to overcome ... the secret is how you to respond to the challenges. It would be boring for gamers to rise to the top and stay there indefinitely. Like real life, the game will have ebb and flow.”

While the makers of Platinum Life don’t expect it to see a release for approximately three years, an online social networking version of the game will see release in the fourth quarter of this year on MySpace and Facebook. The announcement of the T.I. partnership comes at a time when music-related video game titles -- Rock Band, Guitar Hero and its sequel DJ Hero -- are enjoying widespread popularity.

Hip-hop video games historically have had a spottier record than their rock counterparts, with PaRappa the Rappa, 50 Cent: Bulletproof, Shaq Fu and Def Jam: Vendetta generally considered sub-par — to say nothing of the delightfully bad Sega CD title, Kris Kross: Make My Video. Def Jam Rapstar will arrive in stores this winter, in hopes of breaking the genre’s lackluster record.

In the meantime, the producers of Platinum Life hint that more prominent artist partnerships will be announced in the future. Game on.

-- Jeff Weiss

Photo: T.I., left, and Pee Wee. Credit: Rick Diamond / Getty Images