Playable TV: Chuck star Zac Levi envisions games colliding with television

Chuck star Zac LeviThere’s a reason video games have been so integrated into NBC’s “Chuck” TV show over the years. Zac Levi, who stars as Chuck and has directed numerous episodes, is an avid gamer. He’s set up shop at Comic-Con 2011 with Nerd HQ, an off-site festival of video games, celebrities and technology with Xbox 360 as a title sponsor. But the actor has big plans for gaming beyond logging a lot of hours with Gears of War 3 (he’s a huge Gearhead). Levi is talking to some of his Hollywood friends – many of whom agreed to speak with fans at Nerd HQ – about creating a new cross-media video game adventure.

“I have all these ideas of what I want to do in combining these worlds of entertainment and technology because they’re worlds that I’m super nerdy about, and I want to bring that to the people,” said Levi. “I want to start a nerd evolution, man.”

Levi plays pretty much every game that comes out. He’s also become friends with some leading game developers, including Epic Games’ Cliff Bleszinski. Bleszinski is speaking at Nerd HQ at Comic-Con and Gears of War 3 is playable there throughout the event.

“Uncharted 2 had some of the coolest cut scenes that I had seen in a long time when it came out,” said Levi. “I’ve played LA Noire and it’s really fascinating. Along with the Mass Effect games, there are so many choices in how storylines play out. I feel like in the next five years, as graphic engines get better and as our kind of interactivity with Kinect and connectivity with like Xbox Live evolve, we’ll be able to have what’s been my brainchild — the first interactive television-show-movie-miniseries-video-game.”

Levi said the wait between games can be long. He’s been waiting along with the rest of the gaming community for a solid two years for Gears of War 3. He sees the game industry evolving beyond just the disc to more downloadable content.

gears-of-war-3

“Instead of waiting a couple of years for a big game, why not release a game in chapters every month or so?” asked Levi. “This would allow an avid gamer more time to juggle between playing some Gears and Call of Duty and Fable or whatever. I’ll gladly wait a month for the next chapter of a game, and in waiting for that I’ll go play these other chapters of other games. So that led me to thinking about Xbox Live, which has 40 million subscribers and almost no original video content outside of The Guild. There’s no real half-hour or hour-long content for any of those subscribers to watch from Xbox original entertainment.”

What Levi is doing is filling that void. With “Chuck” renewed for the fall in what’s expected to be its final season, Levi has already reached out to friends like Seth Green and Nathan Fillion to see if they’d be interested in working on this project.

“I’d love to do is make a show where we’re a part of this team of rascals that do odd jobs on the edge of the galaxy and we’re flying around in our spaceship and we’re doing our thing and then all of a sudden our ship gets attacked,” explained Levi. “How cool would it be, instead of just watching the cut scene that our really talented computer graphic designers build, you could opt in and play through that same battle. Then you put your controller down and you keep watching the show. Then you get to a portion of the show where we have to go down on this planet to fight off some crazy alien monsters that are attacking a settlement, you could play a kick-ass level of a first-person shooter until you’ve defeated all the aliens and the story continues.”

Levi has thought out the premise. He added that once you’ve played through an installment of the single-player story campaign, players will unlock a multiplayer game that allows them to go back and explore those areas with friends.

“While you’re waiting for the next episode of this particular show, you can go and have fun with your friends playing these characters in a space battle or a first-person shooter,” said Levi. “By the end of the season, any fan has gotten a dozen episodes and roughly 24 levels of playable content, where they can sit at home and play with their friends online. And you’re bringing these worlds together in a way that I think is awesome.”

kinect

Levi believes Kinect could be implemented into the gameplay experience. He envisioned a scenario where the actors are in a Mos Eisley-type cantina and some Greedo-type character starts trash talking to you. The Xbox taunts you to stand up and when you do, the Kinect recognizes that you’re there and now you have to swing under his punch and punch him back.

“I think video games and consoles are really going to be able to bridge that gap between entertainment mediums in a way that in the next five to ten years it will all be totally seamless,” said Levi. “We’re all going to have one box that rules them all.”

Home Theater

Time for a TV upgrade? Here’s what you need to know about 4K Ultra HD TV

Ultra HD 4K has quickly taken over the world of TVs. But what is Ultra HD 4K, how does it work, and most importantly, should you upgrade, or keep your old TV? We explain it all right here.
Movies & TV

Cassian Andor series and 'Mandalorian' details expand Star Wars' future

Disney has sky-high expectations for its Star Wars universe, with plenty of plans for the franchise on the big screen and television over the next few years. Here are all the upcoming movies and TV shows, both rumored and confirmed.
Home Theater

Need more contrast in your life? Here’s what you need to know about HDR TVs

So what is HDR TV? In a nutshell, it’s the best thing to happen to TV since the arrival of 4K. Here's everything you need to know about the technology, what it can do, and why it’s a must-have.
Home Theater

How to install an HD antenna for free TV

Today's TV antennas will get you loads of free over-the-air broadcast TV, but setting them up can be a challenge. We walk you through how to install a TV antenna, and provide tips on picking the best antenna for your home.
Deals

Cyber Monday 2018: When it takes place and where to find the best deals

Cyber Monday is still a ways off, but it's never too early to start planning ahead. With so many different deals to choose from during one of the biggest shopping holidays of the year, going in with a little know-how makes all the…
Gaming

Immerse yourself in a new universe with these incredible PSVR games

The PSVR has surpassed expectations and along with it comes an incredible catalog of games. There's plenty of amazing experiences to be had so we've put together a list of the best PSVR games available today.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: 1-handed drone control, a pot that stirs itself

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Gaming

These cheat codes made gaming history

For almost as long as video games have existed, there have been video game cheat codes. Here are some of the most famous cheat codes, including the legendary Konami Code found in dozens of games.
Gaming

PlayStation Classic powered by open-source emulator made by fans

The PlayStation Classic will be powered by the open-source, fan-made PCSX ReARMed emulator. The move is an unexpected one for Sony, particularly because it has not entirely been friendly with the emulation community.
Virtual Reality

Prototype Valve VR headset leaked: HTC Vive challenger confirmed?

Leaked images revealed that a Valve VR headset is in development, even amid Valve's partnership with HTC for the HTC Vive. Sources confirmed the device, which may be bundled with a Half-Life VR game.
Gaming

The next ‘Overwatch’ patch will bring major changes, require a full reinstall

The next major Overwatch patch will be a remaster patch, and will include load time improvements and memory optimization, among other things. With so many things to be added to the game, a full reinstall will be required.
Deals

The best Nintendo Switch deals and bundles for November 2018

Looking to score Nintendo's latest hybrid console? We've smoked out the best Nintendo Switch deals right here, including discounts on stand-alone consoles as well as bundles that feature games like Fortnite and Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.
Gaming

Got an NES Classic? Here’s how to hack it to play more than 700 games

The NES Classic is terrific for what it is, but Nintendo's discontinued device remains limited in what it can play. Here's how to hack your miniature console and render it compatible with more than 700 games.
Gaming

‘Fallout 76’ day one patch is 52 GB, bigger than the 45 GB game

Fallout 76 is a 45 GB download, but its day one patch is even bigger at a hefty 52 GB. The contents of the patch remain unknown, but it will likely incorporate feedback from the game's beta testers.