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Organization to Promote, Honor Interactive Arts

November 19, 1996|KAREN KAPLAN | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

The electronic entertainment industry looks a little more like Hollywood with today's launch of the Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences in Los Angeles.

The aim of the new industry group is to promote the common interests of its members, to recognize outstanding individual achievements and to conduct an annual awards show a la the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences' annual Oscars bash, said Marc Teren, a former vice president of Walt Disney's interactive entertainment division who will serve as the academy's first president.

Other groups have organized Academy Award-style honors for video games, CD-ROMs and World Wide Web sites. But the new organization is in a good position to become the arbiter of achievement because it has the backing of the Washington-based Interactive Digital Software Assn. and many of the industry's leading companies. Members of the new academy's board will include representatives from Microsoft, Disney, Sony, Nintendo and Electronic Arts.

"Creating a mechanism to honor achievement in this industry is a way to further enhance the visibility and stature not only of the individuals, but of the art form itself," said Doug Lowenstein, president of the IDSA. It will also help draw artists and programmers to the industry, he said.

The organization will draw its members from the three formats for video games, CD-ROMs for personal computers and networked gaming over the Internet. Teren estimates there are 100,000 people working in the interactive entertainment field worldwide, and he hopes to sign up as many of them as possible when a membership drive begins the first week of January.

The digital software association spent 15 months organizing the effort to establish the not-for-profit academy, which is expected to become self-sufficient in its first year. Revenue will come from dues and fees charged those submitting nominations for the annual awards, tentatively scheduled to be presented next spring or summer.

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