Interview with Blake Lewin, Creator of Game Tap and vice president of product development at Turner
We had a chance to sit down with Blake Lewin, creator of GameTap and
vice president of product development and innovation for Turner
Broadcasting System, Inc. (TBS, Inc.) New Product Development, and he
told us all about this new service. As a Gamer who loves SEGA,
having the ability to play any SEGA game, especially since Saturn and
Dreamcast games can be especially hard to find, is very exciting.
Not to mention the vast library besides the SEGA games.
GameTap largely celebrates the history of gaming as well as brings in
the newer PC games. I will definitely be subscribing at launch.
How it Works
GameTap is a first-of-its-kind broadband entertainment network that
offers games-on-demand plus original programming via a broadband
connected PC. The service takes advantage of high-speed Internet
connections to bring a large and growing library of arcade, past
generation console and PC titles to its subscribers.
Navigating the GameTap library
To access GameTap, players first download and install Turner-developed
client software that acts as a gateway to the GameTap library, much as
many on-line music retailers allow access to song libraries.
GameTap designers created the library as a multi-tiered space.
Each tier holds a selected subset of the game collection. Tiers
include “hot picks,” which are updated weekly, and user
favorites. One tier organizes the games by genres; another
arranges them by the platform on which the game first ran. A
“search tier” provides look-up capabilities for the entire library.
Once selected, each title displays an associated “InfoCard” that
displays year, platform, publisher, description, screen shot and bonus
material, which can include classic commercials and original Turner
programming. Also provided are: parental controls, and, if
appropriate, top scores from the GameTap community.
Authentic game play
To recreate the original gaming experience on a PC, Turner integrated
both licensed and developed software code that faithfully mirrors the
functionality of everything from arcade machines to the home
console. GameTap supports navigation and game play using both
keyboard and mouse, as well as most USB peripherals.
When a subscriber first selects a game for play, it gets partially
downloaded to his or her hard disk in encrypted form—accessible only
via the GameTap client. Of course, download times vary according
to the size of the original game. Some cartridge games consume
less than 20 megabytes, downloading quickly. To reduce wait
times, Turner employs secure caching technology that allows users to
store downloaded games on their own computers, so that frequently
played titles get retained for quick access.
The server side: live from Atlanta
GameTap is hosted in Turner’s Atlanta headquarters by the same team
that delivers some of the Internet’s most visited properties, including
CNN.com, NASCAR.com, CartoonNetwork.com, HBO.com, Money.com, PGA.com,
TBS.com, and TNT.tv. Collectively, these sites serve more than
2.5 billion page views to more than 30 million users each month.
Turner’s Internet infrastructure is augmented by AOL’s Internet
backbone and video streaming services.