Video games open for rock concerts

Cross-promotion helps bands, game makers

— Now opening for the dark-rock band Evanescence: Luke Skywalker, extreme snowboarders and the claymation man-and-dog duo Wallace and Gromit.

Seeking new eyeballs and thumbs for its video games, Nintendo is using the Evanescence tour to showcase game characters at kiosks installed in concert venues. It's the latest cross-pollination between games and music, as record labels seek to introduce unknown bands and console manufacturers piggyback on big music acts.

"For me it just made sense to give people more of a good time," Evanescence guitarist Ben Moody said before the tour's inaugural show last week at the Universal Amphitheatre outside Los Angeles.

"We've got these GameCubes set up everywhere. I just wanted more of an event. Nintendo, it's like -- since I was 2 or whatever -- that's a good time. That's how you do it. It's just more entertainment," Moody said.

Evanescense's album "Fallen" has sold about 1.8 million copies since it debuted in March, fueled by the omnipresent radio play of "Bring Me To Life." The Nintendo Fusion Tour also includes Cold, Revis and alternately Cauterize and Finger Eleven.

At the kiosks, players can sample the GameCube or GameBoy Advance snowboarding game "1080: Avalanche," the futuristic racer "F-Zero GX," the latest "Star Wars" adventure "Rogue Squadron III: Rebel Strike" and the comical cartoon-style "Wallace and Gromit in Project Zoo."

Meanwhile, Microsoft's Xbox sponsored this summer's Lollapalooza tour and set up "GameRiot" tents to let ticketholders play against each other in games such as "Tony Hawk's Underground," "Midtown Madness 3" and "Return to Castle Wolfenstein."

Sony's PlayStation 2 also sets up a game-playing tent on the "Vans Warped Tour" -- which includes the bands Simple Plan, Less Than Jake and The Ataris -- and shows up at some goth-metal Ozzfest shows with a 77-foot truck loaded with game stations.

Game makers want to earn street credentials by associating their products with the hard-living youth lifestyle, while music labels often introduce new bands or songs through video game soundtracks.

In a recent survey of about 1,000 gamers, about 32 percent said they discovered a new band through a video game. Among hardcore gamers, categorized as those who buy more than 12 games a year, the number was 50 percent. The survey was conducted by Ziff Davis Media, which publishes PC Magazine and Electronic Gaming Monthly.

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AP Photo

Peter Wurster 32, of Burbank, Calif., left, and Todd Metcalf, 26, of Costa Mesa, Calif., play Nintendo games at one of several Nintendo kiosks while waiting for the rock band Evanescence's concert to begin at the Universal Amphitheatre near Los Angeles. Seeking new eyeballs and thumbs for its video games, Nintendo is using the Evanescence tour to showcase game characters at kiosks installed in concert venues. It's the latest cross-pollination between games and music, as record labels seek to introduce unknown bands and console manufacturers piggyback on big music acts.

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