Nokia interactive game attracts 1 million players

A global interactive game event sponsored by Nokia Corp. isn't about selling new phones but about connecting creative people around the globe to play challenging interactive games. That's the official line at Nokia Corp., which on Thursday closed the door to interested parties after one million people registered to participate in its second annual game event, to run from Nov. 11 through Nov. 29.

"This isn't a phone-centric event because participants will play primarily on the Internet," said company spokesman Damian Stathonikos. "It's about connecting people speaking different languages in different parts of the world. That's our business."

Perhaps, but Nokia views gaming as big business and wants its name to become as visible to gamers as Nintendo Co. Ltd., the maker of the popular Game Boy.

On Monday the Espoo, Finland, mobile phone maker announced plans to launch its first portable game console in February, to compete with Game Boy.

"Games will be the next big thing in mobility," said Anssi Vanjoki, executive vice president of Nokia Mobile Phones, in an interview earlier this week in Munich.

Citing recent market research, he said Europe is expected to have around 5 million wireless game users by 2005, with that number to grow to 130 million by 2015.

Nokia also plans to become a game publisher, though it will not expand into game development, Vanjoki said.

Against this background, Nokia's game event fits nicely into its strategy to become a powerhouse in wireless gaming.

This year's event will bring together people speaking nine different languages in 25 countries, the company said in a statement.

During the game, players receive a mission that they must complete using clues and information provided via the Internet, SMS (Short Messaging Service), chat, interactive voice response calls and movie clips distributed over the Web. To succeed, players must stay connected to all media channels during the entire 18 days, Nokia said.

Winners will receive a Nokia 3650 phone with integrated camera, video player and camcorder.

Additional information can be obtained at http://www.nokiagame.com.

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