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Thursday, September 28, 2006 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Microsoft team enlists "Rings" director for Xbox 360 magic

The Associated Press

Microsoft said Wednesday that it is teaming with "Lord of the Rings" director Peter Jackson to create content for its Xbox 360, in part to get more mainstream users interested in the company's video-game console.

Just don't call these products "games."

"I don't want to classify it as a game. I'm hoping to stretch the definition of interactive entertainment to go beyond the game," said Shane Kim, a corporate vice president in charge of Microsoft Game Studios.

Kim conceded he's not sure what exactly these new "entertainments" might be. "I feel like we haven't figured it out, to be honest," he said.

Whatever they are, Kim said they could include deeper plot lines and more interactive drama, or delivering additional content over time, perhaps through the company's Xbox Live online service.

"It's about making interactive entertainment a mainstream form of entertainment," Kim said.

Jackson, whose third movie in his Rings trilogy won 11 Oscars, including best director and best film, plans to work with Bungie Studios to create one product based on Microsoft's already popular "Halo" game, Kim said.

Screenwriter Fran Walsh, Jackson's wife, also is on board. The duo had also been picked last year by Microsoft to be executive producers of an upcoming film based on the "Halo" game.

The other entertainment product will be aimed at an audience beyond the young men typically associated with video games.

Kim couldn't say when either of Jackson's projects might come out.

Microsoft also said Wednesday that it was working on another "Halo" game, called "Halo Wars." It will be more of a strategy game, rather than the first-person shooter that has typified the series until now.

"Halo Wars" will be in addition to Jackson's creation and the previously announced "Halo 3," due out next year.

The company also announced North American and European pricing for its external high-definition DVD player, which will be available in November as an add-on to the Xbox 360.

The player will sell for $199.99 in North America, for 199.99 euros in France and Germany and 129.99 pounds in the United Kingdom.

The DVD player aims to counter functions in Sony's upcoming PlayStation 3.

Copyright © 2006 The Seattle Times Company

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