Cinemas – a brave new world for gaming?

It’s almost like a plot from a cheesy Linday Lohan flick.

Gaming begins as the geeky outsider – but after some personal growth, important life lessons and no shortage of drama, it has suddenly emerged as the one everybody wants to take to the prom. And it’ll probably get off with the strong-but-sensitive captain of the football team at the end.

Questionable movie metaphors aside, gaming’s current boomtime has attracted much more than envious glances from other industries – it has prompted a swathe of fresh investment and, perhaps more importantly, ideas.

One of the more potentially fruitful of these was proposed by Vue this week – of bringing gaming out of bedrooms and living rooms and onto the big screen.

Forget your pricey high definition TV at home – gaming on a gigantic cinema screen with full-on surround sound has the potential to spawn a whole new industry, says Vue sales and marketing director Mark de Quervain.

If we can get the industry to think about how to get people together in cinemas playing, it could open up a multi-million pound business,” he tells MCV. It can also make gaming appear much more sociable. We can bring movies and gaming together – the timing of games and cinema releases tends to be beneficial. The opportunity is as big as you want it to be.”

So how would it actually work? Well, there are a number of ways to play on the big screen, says de Quervain. There’s a huge opportunity for gaming in cinemas if it’s done right. We could split the screen into 10-20 subsets and hold huge competitions. We can even connect cinema to cinema and have people competing from different parts of the world, or we can sell tickets to play by the hour or per the event. We’ve got good experience in using cinema to launch games – especially on the Halo 3 launch – so we know it already works.

There’s a lot of opportunities here – all people have to do is embrace it. We’ve already had some interest from Sony, Microsoft and Ubisoft, and I think games like SingStar and Buzz would translate brilliantly to the big screen.”

We’ve talked about the convergence of movies and gaming a lot in the past – but now, with the backing of a major cinema company, popping out for a quick spot of Mario Kart could, in time, become as common as catching the latest Lohan odyssey.

And there’s further potential here. As if a crowd of people sitting in front of a giant screen playing videogames didn’t sound futuristic enough, de Quervain wants to take it a little further.

We’ve recently introduced 3D movies and they’ve been a great, unique experience – wouldn’t it be great to introduce 3D games in cinemas? If the development community get behind the idea, this could really take off,” he adds.

If the idea of playing a multiplayer game on a huge screen in full 3D with surround sound doesn’t sound intriguing to you, you’re dead inside. And you probably shouldn’t be working in the games industry.

For now, it’s a seed of an idea – and needs serious industry backing to come to fruition. But if it takes off and becomes a multi-million pound industry in a few years, remember where you read it first. And send us a cheque.

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