For fun, whack Clinton's critics

May 25, 1998|By Tommy Cummings | Tommy Cummings,KNIGHT RIDDER/TRIBUNE

With a few clicks of a mouse, you can do something for President Clinton that he has probably been wanting to do for a long time.

You can whack independent counsel Kenneth W. Starr upside the head. Or you can whack House Speaker Newt Gingrich.

Or you can whack some other folks who have made Clinton's presidency less than comfortable.

It's all possible with "Good Willie Hunting," an interactive video game created by Dan Ferguson and Mike Bielinski of Dallas. It's a game that blurs party lines for some good head-whacking.

In the past month, Ferguson and Bielinski, founders of NVision Design in Irving, Texas, have seen their multimedia firm's site hit with tens of thousands of visitors wanting to download or play the online version of the game. Bielinski came up with the game while kicking around marketing ideas this year. The two developed it during February and March, then distributed it by e-mail to about 300 people April 1. Thanks to e-mail forwarding, thousands now play it.

"It's our Dancing Baby," Bielinski said, referring to the animated toddler that gained fame on the Internet and on the television show "Ally McBeal."

The game is easy to learn and play. The premise: Players score points by whacking people coming out of holes in the ground. If you've tried the "Whack-a-Mole" arcade game, you've basically played "Good Willie Hunting."

The game opens with an animated likeness of Clinton standing around nine holes on the White House lawn. As the game starts, the heads of Linda Tripp, Paula Corbin Jones, Monica Lewinsky, first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton, first cat Socks, TV journalist Sam Donaldson, Gingrich and Starr appear from the holes at random, then quickly duck back under.

The object of the game is to direct Clinton, with the mouse, to whack as many heads as possible in 60 seconds, stopping occasionally to bop a bucket of fried chicken to gain power.

Having fun at the expense of Clinton's detractors might bother some, but it doesn't bother Bielinski and Ferguson.

"Yes, it's not politically correct and it's borderline crude, but people really love it," Bielinski said. "It's a blast around the office. We've had calls from companies saying, 'You guys have shut down our office.' "

S. Lee Tignor of Monarch Beach, Calif., whose son forwarded her the game, gets in a few rounds after reading the morning newspaper.

"I've found that one's score depends upon one's feelings after finishing reading," she said.

You'll find "Good Willie Hunting" at www.nvisiondesign.com.

The higher the hostility, incredulity or disbelief, the higher the score."

The exposure has been good for NVision Design's business.

Before the game's release, the company's site was attracting about 200 hits a day, Bielinski said. By the end of April, the site was drawing an average of 70,000 visitors daily, he said.

"We don't expect to make money off the game," Bielinski said. "But we are getting more leads for our business than we can handle. People are wanting us to make similar games for them and wanting us to make multimedia presentations."

Pub Date: 5/25/98

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