MTV launches virtual Laguna Beach online

MTV is creating an online, virtual version of Laguna Beach which will allow viewers “to inhabit characters from ‘Laguna Beach,’ making choices and living out consequences parallel to the show in the manner of other virtual communities,” according to Variety.

Why exactly that means or why anyone would want to do that is not clear, but it’s not about competing with others. MTV “has emphasized that the offering is not a videogame — traditional notions of winning and losing don’t apply — though it does share some similarities with vidgames,” Variety reports.

The virtual, Sims-like community, which launches Wednesday, will follow the TV show, as “MTV programmers will unlock certain levels, allowing users to advance through the game just as characters lives’ progress on the show.” Laguna Beach is leading the way, but MTV is planning “a virtual universe for a number of its properties that will let users play along with its shows on the Web.”

Ultimately, Variety says, MTV “hopes the marriage of TV’s high production values with the interactivity of the Web will lure consumers.” However, that may be a little bit of an exaggeration. the New York Times has a screenshot, and the graphics look like they belong not on a TV, but on an Atari. Okay, a Nintendo–after you’ve blown your saliva all over the contacts on the game cartridge and caused it to be even more distorted than before.

MTV’s Van Toffler told the Times, “You can not only watch TV, but now you can actually live it.” But not if you want your avatar to get busy with another CGI figure. “The worst thing they can do is kiss — and it’s Catholic school kissing,” MTV VP Matt Bostwick admits. “The lips touch, but the bodies don’t.”

‘Laguna’ logging on [Variety]
Not in the Real World Anymore [New York Times]