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Tuesday, November 12, 2002 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Trivia game gives film fans one more reason to love DVD

Seattle Times staff reporter

Two Seattle guys have come up with a quiz game likely to leave you asking a question: Why didn't I think of that?

Combine a board game like Trivial Pursuit with DVD film clips, and you've got the concept for Scene It? — The DVD Movie Game ($49.95). And creators David Long and Craig Kinzer have got a potential big score.

Here's how it works:

Much like Trivial Pursuit, Scene It? uses dice-rolls to send players around a board, answering questions in different categories from a stack of cards. But one player also acts as a "DVD master" and wields a remote for some of the questions.

For instance, when someone rolls an "all play," an old black-and-white school photo of an actress appears on the TV screen, and the first player to shout out the actress' name wins the point and the right to roll next.

Or an image of a mountain cliff and a clothes hanger appear side by side, and the first player to say the movie title "Cliffhanger" gets it.

On a roll of "my play," the player taking the turn watches a scene and has to identify the movie, name its director, or answer a question about the story. (What's the name of Denzel Washington's character in "The Hurricane"? Answer: Rubin "Hurricane" Carter.)

The game has drawn steady crowds at Nordstrom since its mid-October debut, and at the Northgate Wizards of the Coast, employee Brendan Barr says, "People are very impressed with it. It's already one of our more popular games going into the (holiday) season."

Several years ago, Long had tried making a Halloween party game using scary film clips on a VHS tape, but the limitations of tape made him shelve the idea until technology caught up.

Then he bought his first DVD player two years ago and immediately wondered why no one else had come up with such a game. Instead of tedious fast-forwarding and rewinding, DVDs can jump to scenes, get more uses out of each clip with multiple onscreen questions, and employ all sorts of visual effects. For instance, the letters of a movie title can gradually materialize onscreen (think "Wheel of Fortune") until someone guesses the film.

"It's a no-brainer," he says from the offices of fledgling Screenlife LLC in Seattle's Two Union Square.

And so Long, 40, rolled the dice and quit his job as a controller at a real-estate firm to develop Scene It? with Kinzer, 46 (who still runs real-estate and investment businesses and is a part-owner of the Sonics). "My favorite scene is from 'Field of Dreams': Build it and they will come," Long says.

Their biggest challenge was getting the rights to use the DVD film clips from five major studios and about 250 actors. Some of the A-list stars — Ben Stiller, Steve Martin, Diane Keaton, Clint Eastwood — wanted to see the game first.

When they signed off, there was a snowballing effect with the rest, and the studios didn't mind having a game essentially promoting their library of older films, Long says.

If you don't have to be a cinema freak to play Scene It, the flipside is that it can be a bit remedial (a picture of a watch's insides plus an orange equals "A Clockwork Orange").

And with linear gameplay that sends players around the board once, it can go pretty fast (even unfolding the game board for the longer version). Other clips seem irrelevant to the questions, such as a long comic scene with Peter Sellers in "The Pink Panther" followed by "What is the Pink Panther?" (Answer: a diamond.)

Still, Long and Kinzer could soon be associated with that movie starring Paul Newman as an aging pool hustler: "The Color of Money." They're already planning to expand their game business like "The Blob" on a diet of juvenile delinquents, with another DVD-and-cards set due out next year (so that game owners don't have to buy the whole setup again).

And they're already planning sports, kids and TV versions of Scene It?

Mark Rahner: 206-464-8259 or mrahner@seattletimes.com.

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