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Brett Milano (COM’82) was the writer for the Harmonix music game The Beatles: Rock Band. A critic, columnist, web editor, and author of The Sound of Our Town: A History of Boston Rock & Roll, Milano scripted game storyboards and researched and wrote segments detailing the band’s history. “Paul McCartney read over all the text and approved it,” Milano relates. “By the time it got to him, we wanted to make things as accurate as we could . . . Harmonix was more painstaking than any print medium I’d ever written for.”Milano was thrilled to help bring the Beatles’ music to a new generation. When Harmonix premiered the game in a booth at a music festival in San Francisco, he says, “Kids were playing it all day. Just to see kids who were 11 playing ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’ and singing the harmonies—that really made me happy.” Image courtesy of Harmonix Music Systems, Inc.Former ad man Bruce Feirstein (COM’75) is a screenwriter, Vanity Fair contributing editor, and the author of humor books such as Real Men Don’t Eat Quiche. His success writing the screenplays for James Bond films GoldenEye, Tomorrow Never Dies and The World Is Not Enough led producers to ask him to script Bond video games, including Blood Stone. Games today more closely resemble movies than ever before, but provide many more hours of entertainment—and require many more scenes to be written. “What gaming has done is change the syntax and grammar of movies,” Feirstein says. Image courtesy of Activision.A major difference between films and video games is that in the latter, it’s a lot easier to pull off an exotic locale, Feirstein says: “Working on a movie, something like that takes weeks and weeks of decision-making” about permits, generators, lights, catering for hundreds of people, vehicles, and so forth. But thanks to animation, Feirstein says, “with a game, you turn around and say, ‘You know, I’d really rather do this sequence in Athens. And we’re gonna have a boat chase in the harbor, then we’re gonna have a truck chase up to the Acropolis, and then we’re gonna have 50 people having a dinner party at the Acropolis.’ And in 20 minutes, everybody says, ‘OK, fine, we can do that.’” Image courtesy of Activision.Gail Cayetano (CGS’02, COM’04) and Stephanie Hansen (COM’05) own and manage Starfish Creative Events, a marketing firm whose clients are video game companies. “Even in just the past six years, the industry has grown tremendously,” says Cayetano, who worked for Activision before striking out on her own. “I was hired before the Wii and Xbox 360 came out, both of which have expanded the gaming audience tenfold since their release. New audiences are out there, including moms and young girls—a target market that was hard to capture before.” Image courtesy of Gail CayetanoStarfish handles “all types of marketing events—promotional tours, product launches,” Cayetano says. “We’ve done everything from a one-night launch party for Tekken 6 where we rented out the San Francisco Crunch gym and cleared out all the gym equipment and moved in all of the launch party equipment—including an amazing number of screens and gaming systems—in just one day, all the way to national tours such as the summer promotional tour for Grease, the video game, by Paramount and 505 Games, when we wrapped and outfitted trucks to travel to summer fairs and music festivals all over the country.” The Los Angeles Business Journal named Cayetano and Hansen to its “20 in their 20s” list.

Synopsis

Upstart no longer, the video game industry is storming the entertainment world – and COM grads are leading the way. Read more in Bostonia.

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Advertising, alumni, Brett Milano, Bruce Feirstein, entertainment, Film, Gail Cayetano, Journalism, Public Relations, Stephanie Hansen, The Beatles, video games

COM Alumni

Video games aren’t just for teenage boys anymore. Thanks to new technologies and higher production values, today’s gaming audience is larger than ever. Games using motion, dance, music, and social media have become family entertainment: More than two-thirds of households now play computer and video games, 40 percent of gamers are female, and 26 percent are over age 50.

That means a booming business, and opportunities for people who understand storytelling. The video game industry employs tens of thousands, including writers, PR pros, film folks, licensing experts and entrepreneurs, in addition to animators, programmers, and actors.

Graduates of the Boston University College of Communication have been well-positioned to recognize and grasp those opportunities. From veteran screenwriters and journalists to up-and-coming marketing whizzes, they’ve found work adapting Shrek to the little screen, pitching Grease (the game) on the road, writing James Bond stories that last 20 hours instead of two, and bringing the music of the Beatles to a new generation. Trained to communicate across a variety of emerging and evolving platforms, a diverse collection of COM alumni have found it easy to transfer their skills to a range of roles in a growing, exciting industry.