The National Geographic Society was founded in 1888 and is one of the largest non-profit academic and educational institutions in the world. Its stated goal is “To increase and diffuse geographic knowledge while promoting the conservation of the World’s cultural, historical, and natural resources.” It runs seven print publications, has an online news outlet, and its own television station, the National Geographic Channel. It makes sense then, that they chose to expand to the realm of gaming to further its mission.
NG is forming a games division, National Geographic Games, which will develop games based on its ecological themes and media property. NGG for short will work with several publishers to make games which inspire customers to take an interest in global matters, and also make “the National Geographic brand meaningful to a broader audience”
NGG will be headed by corporate strategy and development SVP Paul Levine, and Chris Mate, formerly of Take-Two and Bethesda Softworks, who is acting as vice president and general manager.
NGG has formed a partnership with Namco Bandai and Sony Computer Entertainment to publish National Geographic branded games for consoles and handheld devices, including the Nintendo Wii and DS, the PlayStation 3, and PlayStation Network, PC and mobile devices.
The first game released by the NGG will be Herod’s Lost Tomb, and will focus on content from the magazine’s December 2008 issue and one of its cable channel’s featured broadcasts dealing with the biblical figure King Herod. The game will be released free either as a flash version available on National Geographic’s web site or a downloadable PC and mobile version.
November 2008 will also see NGG release National Geographic: Panda with Namco Bandai, and National Geographic: Africa with Sony. December 2008 heralds Sudoku Traveler: China, while 2009 sees Rain Forests, Greencity and From the Bottom Up.
“By leveraging National Geographic’s leading family brand, core themes and franchises, and its unique content that drives our mission-forward strategy, NGG will create fun games that allow gamers of all ages to experience and explore their world through play,” said Levine.
He went on to comment that “[NGG’s] global audiences love to play games, and we plan on creating games in-house as well as working with leading global publishers to develop entertaining games that engage those audiences in a relevant way.”
So if you’re not particularly impressed by you or your child playing violent or commercial games (GTA comes to mind here), then it might be well worth taking a look at the educational and ecological themed games which will see the light of day by the hands of National Geographic Games in the near future. Who knows, given enough time to mature and gathering enough momentum, the company may even make games that are fun.
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