Toronto (August 5, 2008) -- GS New Media, Inc., a digital entertainment company based in Toronto, announced today that it has adopted Project Darkstar http://projectdarkstar.com
), the breakthrough open source online game platform invented by Sun Microsystems, Inc. (http://sun.com
) (NASDAQ:JAVA), to develop a virtual world for tweens and teens based on the popular TV series The Saddle Club™. GS New Media and Sun Microsystems will work together to develop a high-performance, broadly functional solution architecture as a basis for The Saddle Club Virtual World.
“We are very pleased that GS New Media has decided to use Project Darkstar as the online infrastructure for The Saddle Club Virtual World, and to work with the Project Darkstar Community, including Sun, to advance the project,” said Karl Harberl, Director of the Project Darkstar initiative at Sun Microsystems. “With their collective expertise in online entertainment and Project Darkstar technology to serve them, GS New Media is well positioned to deliver an innovative virtual world experience, and to capitalize successfully on the tremendous opportunity that The Saddle Club™ property represents.”
The Saddle Club™ is one of the most successful children’s TV series in the world. Based on the best-selling books by Bonnie Bryant, the live action drama series follows the adventures of three young heroines who formed the Saddle Club at Pine Hollow Stables. The series, on public television stations in the U.S. and Discovery Kids, has ridden away with the hearts of tweens.
“We are thrilled to collaborate with Sun Microsystems, a company known for innovation, community development and open source leadership,” said Shemi Levi, CEO and co-founder of GS New Media. “Their strength in enabling massive multiplayer online games will allow us to push the limits to create a truly unique 3D world that will connect with millions of young fans of The Saddle Club TV series and horse lovers everywhere.”
“The Saddle Club Rides Again!” 26 half-hour episodes of Series 3 of the live action drama will premiere in more than a dozen countries this fall. The series is a co-production of Crawford Productions Pty Ltd. (AU) and Protocol Entertainment, Inc. (CA) and was shot in HD in Australia with an all-new new cast, new characters, more music and fun! “The Saddle Club™ is a perfect vehicle for a positive, entertaining and enriching virtual experience for the millions of fans of the books and television series. We think the Project Darkstar platform will perfectly suit this unique opportunity,” said Steve Levitan, CEO and president, Protocol Entertainment, Inc.
A television, publishing, merchandising and licensing phenomenon in Australia beginning with the launch of the first series, The Saddle Club™ has become a global brand celebrating friendship, action, adventure and horses.
“Given the international success of Bonnie Bryant’s original books it has been a wonderful experience to build on that original fan base by means of the TV series through broadcast, cable, satellite and internet as well as DVD, music and fantastic merchandise including toys, apparel, publishing, food and beverages,” said Nick McMahon, CEO of Crawford Productions Pty Ltd in Australia. “Now, together with our partner Protocol we are going into the new and exciting world of virtual reality. This is a new frontier for us and we are fortunate to have great new partners in GS New Media and Sun Microsystems.”
The online tween and teen market is a hot spot for investors and advertiser alike, a result of critical user mass meeting proven subscription-based business models. More than $1 billion was invested in 2007 in virtual world companies with an additional $185 million committed in the first quarter of 2008 alone.
GS, founded in 2007 by Shemi Levi and Zviah Eldar, is focused on developing high-quality branded interactive content, in particular virtual worlds. The Saddle Club Virtual World is the company’s first internet and mobile licensed property to be developed using the open source Project Darkstar platform. The company’s principals bring a wealth of production, design, and distribution experience to the table and include: Shemi Levi (Orange Israel and blogTV), Zviah Eldar (The Gravity Group and animation studio), Marty Keltz (Scholastic Productions Inc.), Andrea Dinnick (Walt Disney UK) and David Furst (Webkinz).
About GS New Media, Inc.
GS New Media Inc. is a production and distribution Company that designs, develops, acquires, and markets innovative Interactive programming and environments based on original properties and licensed brands across digital multimedia platforms. Current GS New Media properties include: The Saddle Club™, Gemma, Kodeee and blogTV/Comedy Network. For more information, go to http://www.gsnewmedia.com
About Sun Microsystems, Inc.
A singular vision -- "The Network Is The Computer" -- guides Sun in the development of technologies that power the world's most important markets. Sun's philosophy of sharing innovation and building communities is at the forefront of the next wave of computing: the Participation Age. Sun can be found in more than 100 countries and on the Web at http://sun.com
About Project Darkstar
Project Darkstar is software infrastructure that is designed to simplify the development and operation of massively scaleable online games, virtual worlds and social networking applications. Originally created by Sun Microsystems, it is today advanced as an open source project through the Project Darkstar Community.
Learn more at http://www.projectdarkstarcom
About The Saddle Club™
The Saddle Club™ is an Australia-Canada co-production based on the popular book series by Bonnie Bryant. Produced by Crawford Productions Pty Ltd., Australia’s most established and respected television production company (part of the WIN television group) and Protocol Entertainment, Inc., Canada’s premier producer of live action children’s dramas based on literary properties, including, Goosebumps, Dear America and Animorphs.
78 half-hour episodes of the TV series have been produced. It is the longest-running and most rotated series on the Discovery Kids channel. Series 3 will premiere in September 2008 on US public television stations through APT Exchange and Connecticut Public Broadcasting, Inc. In Canada, the series will be broadcast on TVOKids and the Knowledge Network. http://www.saddleclubtv.com
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<a href="http://www.equestrianmag.com/article/saddle-club-virtual-world-08-08.html">The Saddle Club Virtual World to Launch in 2009</a> ~ EquestrianMag.com