MTV Launches Interactive Entertainment Division

As interactive video gaming exerts a greater cultural pull, MTV is hoping to exact some pull of its own in that area with the launch on Monday of its newest division, MTV Games.

The division will be devoted to developing, producing, and promoting creative gaming experiences that are somehow congruent with MTV's target audience. MTV Games will work in-house through its newly created interactive entertainment studio, along with industry partners, to produce and market original video game titles. The new unit will incubate original game franchises in partnership with independent game developers. In addition, the new division will forge strategic marketing partnerships with game publishers to connect with the MTV audience across multiple platforms.

MTV executives hope that the new division will offer cross-platform opportunities similar to its movie division.

"In 1996 we launched MTV Films with the hopes of discovering some risky and bold stories to tell," said Van Toffler, President, MTV Networks Music/Logo/Films Group. "Nine years later, I'm ecstatic about what we have accomplished, and today we launch MTV Games with a similar objective--incubating breakthrough gaming concepts that embrace creative risk-taking, and push the boundaries of interactive entertainment."

As part of Monday's launch, MTV Games had more news to make on its first day. The division has struck a strategic relationship with Midway Games, an interactive entertainment publisher and developer, to market, jointly sell in-game advertising, and collaborate on soundtrack development for three upcoming games. The first release from this partnership will be "L.A. RUSH," an arcade racing game that was designed by West Coast Customs, the automotive customization company featured in the hit MTV series "Pimp My Ride."

Back on the TV programming side of things, MTV also on Monday unveiled its development slate for the next few months.

The shows currently in the works include: "Yo Momma" (Wilmer Valderrama, of Fox's "The '70s Show," created and hosts this new reality/comedy competition, where he searches the country looking for the funniest and most outrageous trash talkers); "Welcome to Crunkville," which follows hip hop group Ying Yang Twins in their search for roommates to move into their mansion in California; "Mr. Rooney's Barbershop," a reality show that looks at a barbershop in Queens, NY where the local cutters are always on the lookout for rising hip-hop talent from the hood--plus record exec Tommy Mottola serves as executive producer, along with the shop's owner/record producer; "Homewrecker," starring MTV's Ryan Dunn, which gives viewers a chance to get revenge on someone who has done them wrong; "Beyond Normal," which follows MTV News correspondent Gideon Yago using his investigative resources to help real young people whose lives have been turned upside down by crisis or conflict; "8th & Ocean," a reality soap set in the "high stakes, super sexy modeling world" of Miami Beach; and "Ten Years Later," a scripted comedy series that asks "what happens to the child star after his cable access show has run its course?," featuring guest stars Horatio Sanz, Moby, and Janeane Garofalo.

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