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Media Consumption: Vicarious Visions' Guha Bala

Today’s Media Consumption, a weekly column that digs deep to find out what our favorite game developers have been devouring in the four basic media food groups of audio, ...
Today’s Media Consumption, a weekly column that digs deep to find out what our favorite game developers have been devouring in the four basic media food groups of audio, video, printed word and games, speaks to Vicarious Visions co-founder and president Guha Bala. Bala formed Troy, New York-based Vicarious Visions with his brother, Karthik, in 1994. Vicarious works mainly with licenses, developing games for Disney, Pixar, DreamWorks, Warner Bros., Marvel, and Nickelodeon franchises, among others. Recent releases by the studio include the portable versions of Ultimate Spider-Man, X-Men Legends II, and the Madagascar series, as well as a port of Doom III for the Xbox. In 2005, the 140-person studio was acquired by Activision, and is currently working on a number of unannounced projects for the publisher. We caught up with Bala via email to see what forms of media have been on his plate. Sounds: Rather than focusing on music, Bala responded with other forms of sound that have been a part of his day-to-day life. "A few sounds really lurk in my head all day," he said. "The sound of my baby; her gurgles, gawks, and cries are sort of musical...except when they occur repeatedly through the night. There's something really captivating about her. In a totally different area: the shriek of the Hydra in God Of War. The use of motion blur with surround sound and camera composition on the singular movement of a towering hydra really popped out of the screen and into my brain. I don't really know how the sounds of my baby and the shrieking hydra mix, but they coexist." A gamer at heart, Bala also said that he's enjoyed the sounds that reverberate in two of his favorite titles of last year, Sly Cooper: Honor Among Thieves and Call of Duty 2. Moving Pictures: "War of the Worlds was a great film," said Bala. "I found it refreshing that the story revolved on a family's human drama, rather than an Independence Day-style special effects fest. Though the story was totally different from its H.G. Wells inspiration, its themes of hubris and the triumph of the meek kept the film true to the classic." Words: Bala is a regular reader of the bi-monthly, non-profit magazine about international affairs and foreign policy, Foreign Affairs. "Foreign Affairs is a great way to stay on top of the deep issues that face our country's foreign policy," he said. "I've been very disappointed with the quality of news and the lack of depth in most media channels. Foreign Affairs offers a deeper look into our country's policies in the middle-East and Asia. Games: Most of Bala's gaming time has been spent with Mario Kart DS and Call of Duty 2. "I'm a huge fan of both of these," he said. "Mario Kart shows a minimalist way to excellence. The creators of the game were able to totally reinvent the game with the WiFi online play, but keep true to its cart racer roots. The creators did not rely on pumping huge production values to create one of the finest games of the year. Rather, they relied on elegance of track design, ease of online play, and a seamless integration of the offline and online experience. Kudos to Nintendo's team."

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