You’ve heard of the Grammys and the Emmys? Now meet the Webbys – and the latest Webby winner is Israel’s Funtactix, makers of an interactive online game based on the hit movie, The Hunger Games.
The Webbys are given out, Oscar-style, the “Academy,” in this case the International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences (IADAS), a by-invitation-only group of the digital elite. Founded by tech guru Guy Kawasaki, IADAS members (and voters for the awards) include the likes of Virgin’s Richard Branson, Ariana Huffington, Oracle CEO Larry Ellison, Jerry Greenfield (Jerry of Ben and Jerry’s), Simpson’s creator Matt Groening, and other Internet and popular culture VIPs.
Awards are presented for digital excellence in the arts (this year’s winner was a museum site that lets you curate your own tour), best animation, digital photography, user experience, video, music site, science site, shopping site, and so on – as well as for best social game, the category in which Funtactix was chosen for their Hunger Games Adventures game.
It is by no means the first time the Hunger Games Adventures online game has been chosen ahead of the rest of the pack. Last December, the game was named the best mobile game tied to a TV or film franchise by Variety, the bible of the entertainment industry. A panel of judges from top gaming, entertainment, and on-line news sites gave the nod to the Israeli company’s offering, which beat out tough competition from other wildly popular games such as The Walking Dead: The Game and Veggie Tales: The League of Incredible Vegetables, both based on wildly popular entertainment vehicles.
The Hunger Games movie, one of the biggest box-office films of all time, is based on the first book in the trilogy (three more films based on the books are planned), and describes a bleak post-apocalyptic America in which a decimated population is enslaved to produce goods and services for a decadent Capitol.
Funtactix creates social computer games based on blockbuster films through close cooperation with leading Hollywood studios such as Lionsgate and Paramount. Some of Funtactix’s earlier games include Mission Impossible IV and Rango, both based on popular films. Established in 2006, Funtactix has 30 employees at offices in Israel and the United States.
Funtactix is a portfolio company of Jerusalem Venture Partners (JVP), an Israeli VC that has made a commitment to content development, seeing content as emerging as a strong growth sector for Israeli companies in the coming years. Among the other content companies that JVP has invested in are Animation Lab, which develops animated films, and AnyClip, which lets users search in a database for their favorite movie clips.
“It’s great to receive international approval of such magnitude,” said Ron Lifenberg, a partner and founder in Funtactix. “In the gaming industry Israel is not only on the map, but it is a leading player. Due to the close work we did with the writer of The Hunger Games, Suzanne Collins, our amazing staff was able to make contact with millions of fans of the book series and the movies. Despite previous achievements, this is undoubtedly the most significant achievement for us.”