‘Wizard of Oz’ game launched

Updated 19 November 2012
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‘Wizard of Oz’ game launched

SAN FRANCISCO: Pinball and slot machine wizard Joe Kaminkow is working his magic on the social games scene pioneered by Zynga and taking Facebook users along the yellow-brick road as his opening move.
Kaminkow and his small team at startup Spooky Cool Labs got a blessing from Warner Brothers Interactive Entertainment to make “Wizard of Oz” game for play at the leading social network complete with clips from the classic film.
“We’re proud to have created such an immersive experience based on the greatest, most-watched movie in history,” Kaminkow said. “Players get to enjoy interacting with Dorothy, Glinda The Good Witch, Tin Man, Scarecrow, Cowardly Lion and all of the other characters people have loved for years.”
Players land in a 3-D world, in the role of the Dorothy character made famous by Judy Garland, to find their virtual farmhouse has crash-landed atop a wicked witch in Munchkinland.
The thrust of the game is to build a thriving Munchkin town with happy little residents and then pave a yellow-brick road that leads to Dorothy’s tin and lion cohorts, and the Emerald City of Oz.
“You aren’t just building a city; there is an adventure to go on down the road,” said Spooky Cool Labs chief creative officer Brian Eddy. “We expect people to be playing this for months and months to get to the Tin Man, then the Lion,” he continued. “This game could easily go on years.”
Game industry veterans at the Chicago-based startup wove in winning elements of console play such as side missions and being able to navigate the virtual world from any angle including a first-person perspective called “munchkin-cam.”
“We have great respect for companies like Zynga that pioneered the space but we wanted to reset the genre and make something more compelling, based on better technology,” Kaminkow said with a nod to titles such as ‘FarmVille.’ The number of players has climbed quickly since “The Wizard of Oz” game opened to the public in test mode at the start of November. It had been downloaded more than 100,000 times at Facebook as of Saturday.
Kaminkow’s legacy stretches back decades to the glory days of pinball arcades with a long list of creations that included machines themed after blockbuster films “Star Wars” and “Jurassic Park.” He was inducted into the Pinball Hall of Fame in 2004. The launch of The Wizard of Oz online at apps.facebook.com/wozgame was timed to coincide with the celebration of the film’s 75th anniversary.
The game industry reputations of Kaminkow and his Spooky Cool partner Larry DeMar were cited as the reasons Warner trusted them to make a game based on the film.
The Oz game is free to play.


Six award-winning Arab books you can read in English

Updated 25 April 2018
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Six award-winning Arab books you can read in English

DUBAI: Palestinian author Ibrahim Nasrallah’s “The Second War of the Dog” has won 2018’s International Prize for Arabic Fiction. Here, we look at former winning books that have been translated into English.
‘Frankenstein in Baghdad’
Ahmed Saadawi

This thriller, which won in 2014, is set in an Iraq beset by political instability. Protagonist Hadi Al-Attag sews together the body parts of those killed in explosions, creating a monster that soon goes missing. The dark tale was published in Arabic in 2013 and was then translated into English in 2018.
‘The Bamboo Stalk’
Saud Alsanousi

This tale of endurance in the face of abandonment begins when Josephine comes to Kuwait from the Philippines to work as a housemaid. The son of the household decides to marry her in secret, but deserts her when she falls pregnant. The novel, which won the prize in 2013, tells the story of the neglected child.
‘The Druze of Belgrade’
Rabee Jaber

After the 1860 civil war in Mount Lebanon, Druze fighters forced into exile in the Balkans are joined by a Christian egg seller from Beirut called Hanna Yacoub. The book, which won the prize in 2012, follows the group’s adventures as they struggle to stay alive in a foreign land.
‘The Dove’s Necklace’
Raja Alem

This complex story, which won the 2011 prize, is told by one of the few women on the list of awardees. The plot centers on a police officer who is incapable of finding a young woman’s killer. The Saudi author takes the reader on a spiritual journey across time and space to solve the mystery.
‘Azazeel’
Youssef Ziedan

Set in the fifth century in Alexandria and northern Syria, 2009’s winning book tells the story of the fight between Christianity and Paganism within one monk — as he struggles to harmonize his contending inner beliefs — and within the wider public.
Sunset Oasis
Bahaa Taher

The novel — 2008’s winning book — follows the life of a middle-aged Egyptian government official who is sent to govern the oasis of Siwa by his British superiors as punishment for his role in a failed revolt in 1882. His wife accompanies him, putting to bed any hopes he had of using the mission to find himself.