This one is kind of weird.
If you’re not aware, Deadline is the news-scooping, industry-covering Hollywood blog run by the notorious Nikke Finke and the less notorious Mike Fleming. Together the two command a great deal of stock in the Hollywood news world, breaking many of the stories that we do so love to read about (you’ll find them cited on a notable percentage of news stories across all of your favorite online film news sources, assuming they’re not pieces of shit who don’t credit). Taking Variety and THR by storm, Deadline has embraced the blog format and the minutia-focused gameplan and run with it to great success.
Of course, I also feel like they’re partly responsible for driving the horse-race movie coverage game deeper and deeper into the guts of Hollywood production to the point that short-lists and negotiations are news, rather than confirmed announcements. That’s what happens when people who actually have access devote their energy to minutia blogging. There’s also a whole annoying cult of personality that surrounds Finkke, as well as the fact that those at Deadline themselves are not so eager to dole out proper credit when appropriate. It’s a lot of dumb inside baseball, but the site promised a big announcement today, and surprisingly it has come in the form of a Facebook game announcement.
Before I dig too deep and your eyes glaze over, it seems to me that this is essentially the Farmville version of Entourage. If you’re still interested, they describe it this way:
Just like the internationally known website filled with entertainment news and rare candor on which it is based, the ‘Deadline Hollywood Game’ introduces the real Hollywood where power, relationships, and influence are as important as money (and sometimes more so). The game employs the same mixture of street smarts and dumb luck to make it in The Industry by allowing players to choose one of several career paths – actor, screenwriter, producer, director, agent, studio executive – leading to success or ruin.
In the real Hollywood where information is major currency, the more you know about the business the better you can maneuver. So the ‘Deadline Hollywood Game’ will usher in the next generation of Facebook play by incorporating Deadline.com’s real-time breaking headlines to influence actions and reputations – with the effect of making the game as unpredictable as filmmaking itself.
That’s certainly something.
Besides a few rounds of Zynga poker I’ve deliberately kept my nose out of any of the popular Facebook games, but there is no doubt they’ve grown staggeringly popular. It’s hard to call this anything other than a sharp move from Deadline, who need only look at the over-long success of Entourage to see that people eat up hyper-stylized stories of Hollywood dealings. Putting them against each other on Facebook and turning it into a point-system kind of thing will only make it more crack-like for those users.
Even in my brief dealings with this industry I’ve already discovered that it’s no indie filmmaking book or producer’s diary type tell-all novel that you need to be reading to prepare- it’s upper-level simulation philosophy. I can only imagine what would be said about this game by someone like Jean Baudrillard, writer of Simulacra and Simulation. The ideas in that book formed the foundation for cyberpunk and films like The Matrix, with prescient concepts like society’s increasing obsession with different forms of entertainment that are essentially copies with no original, which could mean anything from Disney World to reality TV. Now it seems we can move on from obsessing over reality TV that documents lives that aren’t real, and focus on a simulation of an industry that itself is simply a bent replication of real industry. It’s like making the old buttressed plywood-facade version of a buttressed plywood-facade version of Hollywood. It’s making my head spin.
Despite all those deep fears, I signed up on the list of pre-players so I can let you know if it’s worth your time, or how this damn thing works. The game will get a full release sometime in the summer it seems. Until then, ponder the frightening implications of Nikke Finke controlling a sphere of digi-reality inhabited by other human beings…