GTE Plunges into Interactive Media

Article excerpt

GTE is best known as a telephone company.

Now, the $20 billion company hopes to become known for such electronic games as "Jammit," a street basketball game, and "Blades," a street hockey game.

A GTE subsidiary, GTE Interactive Media (GTE IM), today plans to enter the $7 billion consumer market for arcade games and "interactive" entertainment products using the new CD-ROM technology. GTE joins a growing list of companies hoping to merge communications skills with Hollywood film techniques and technology.

GTE IM, a software publishing firm based in Carlsbad, Calif., will introduce its first line of products at the Consumer Electronics Show in Chicago Thursday. The games and videos will be distributed to the public over the next nine months.

Last week, executives gave the Monitor a preview of some new products. There is an action arcade game featuring what look like mannequin martial-arts experts. Another shows spaceships resembling "Star Wars" vehicles.

A third product uses real actors playing basketball and street hockey. Since the action games take place on the street, the rules are "flexible." The actors have digital sensors attached to their bodies to help computers capture their movements in a realistic fashion.

The GTE IM games can be played on a variety of hardware, including personal computers equipped with CD-ROM and Super Nintendo Entertainment systems.

The arcade and action games are geared toward male teens - the largest market so far. GTE IM says designing games for girls is a harder task. In 1995, the company will unveil another line of videos for adults.

Although the GTE subsidiary, begun in 1990, does not disclose its revenues, Richard Robinson, its president, says he expects sales to quadruple for the next several years as the company releases different product lines. "There are a lot of three- to six-year-old companies that went from being very small to $100 {million} to $200 million companies and are not that small any more," he says in an interview. …