Internet gaming zone

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The Independent Culture

Interactive is one of the more abused words in the computer business, but there is a clear interactive element in multi-player gaming. At web game sites you can now enjoy the merits of both traditional toys and computer games: kids can download Ms Pac Man as well as classics like Scrabble from just one site. Multi-player games are big business and Hasbro have sprinted ahead with the launch of Hasbro Interactive. Their traditional best-selling games such as Monopoly, Cluedo and Scrabble now compete alongside other titles in their Internet Gaming Zone. It is possible to play in a game of Battleships against a foreign opponent because the Hasbro Interactive site can match you with someone to play against. Grown-up office workers in America have also been taking advantage of this site via Hasbro's Em@il Games. It's no surprise the companies who make traditional board games have begun to take an interest in appealing to the technology-minded generation. Business demands that they bridge the generation gap video games have made in the board game industry. But to some of us the idea of playing games on the Internet with complete strangers will feel odd. After all, Ms Peacock, as played by your brother, has a charm a screen opponent could never achieve. But looked at another way, a transatlantic, mass-player game of Cluedo is preferable to having a solo match of Gameboy Tetris.

Everybody's free

The hit single "Everybody's Free (To Wear Sunscreen)", illustrated the Net working in tandem with other media and the wide audience combined media can reach. The song's lyrics, which will be released in Britain this month, were discovered on the Net by film director Baz Luhrmann, who believed the words were by American uber-novelist Kurt Vonnegut. Meanwhile, not only was this text posted on the Net, it was also sent around the world as an email chain letter, reaching Kurt Vonnegut's wife, Jill Krementz, who knew nothing about it. In fact, the piece belonged to Chicago Tribune column writer Mary Schmich. The Baz Luhrmann track, which combines spoken words with a hip hop beat, is a smash hit, and the text has also been turned into a one-sentence-per-page book by Schmich.