Tiger Woods Web game and 3-D reenactment illustrate a high-tech media circus [Updated]
Among all of the buzzwords about "light-speed DNS" and "real time," there have been few events that really drive home the point of just how fast technology and its users are. The Tiger Woods affair was a hole-in-one for the Internet's quick turnaround time.
A good example of that is Break Media's Tiger Hunting online game. The fairly simple distraction has players guide a cartoon Tiger Woods in his Escalade, with a supposed mistress seated beside him, down a street. Meanwhile, a character portraying his crazed wife chases them on foot, golf club in hand. Players must swerve to avoid various obstacles, including trees, trophies and babies.
Concept art and planning were drawn up over the Weekend of Tiger (Nov. 27- 29) as news media buzzed and shot at every angle, be it police statements or gossip.
On Monday, Nov. 30, Break's director of games Chris Pasley began programming the game in Flash. By Tuesday night, Tiger Hunting was online and being promoted on Holy Taco, a Break-owned men's humor blog.
A four-day turnaround, and even then, Break was taking its time.
"If we had a sense of urgency, if we wanted to, we could have put it up quicker," said Nick Wilson, Break's chief technology officer, in a phone interview Tuesday.
Break employees and friends spent a day testing the game and discussing whether they had gone too far. "Should he run over the baby, yes or no?" Wilson said, reminiscing about internal discussions. He's referring to a cartoon tot, one of the road obstacles. "Sure, why not?"
The game is just one more contributing factor to a culture steeped in the story of the moment. Its silly execution allows Break to get away with some moral bogeys.
"It's good not to take it too seriously," said Paisley, the developer, on the phone. "Cartoon format allows you to satirize things."
The hospitalization of Woods' mother-in-law, which wouldn't be news in any other circumstance, gave media a reason to tee up the scandal for at least one more hole. And it gives guys a reason to send one more tweet or one last e-mail with a link to Break's game. In the first few days following release, the game had been played 750,000 times, wrote Break spokeswoman Meredith Kendall.
Another weird technology to piggyback on the world's fixation with Woods came from a Taiwanese company that quickly built a computer-animated reenactment of the scene. The YouTube clip, which looks like something out of a recent version of the Sims game, has been viewed more than 2 million times.
We can expect that the number of weird properties built around current events will only increase. Break could have had a field day with Balloon Boy. In fact, the company considered doing a game around the event after it happened, but instead it opted for this short clip.
"We're in the process of a major gaming push in 2010," Wilson said. The Tiger Woods game "is the first of many more to come," he said.
[Updated, Dec. 9, 12:59 p.m.: Corrected the spelling of Chris Pasley and added his official title.]
-- Mark Milian