GAME THEORY

By Fritz Baugh
Supplement to GBI Case File GBNY-1991-9/003

November 2007
Ghostbusters Omnibus Timeline Year Twenty-Five
The chill fall wind blew outside Ghostbusters Central as the door opened.

Janine Melnitz Spengler looked up from her desk, where she was filing her nails and enjoying the peace and quiet before her eight year-old twins returned from grade school.

Standing there were Peter Venkman and Louis Tully, the CEO and CFO of Ghostbusters International. They looked like a couple of cats that had just eaten an entire aviary.

"I don't like the looks on your faces." Janine commented, adjusting her glasses. "I always get nervous when you look that content, Dr. Venkman."

Venkman pantomimed exaggerated shock. "Oh, you wound me, Mrs. Spengler. What if I told you it was something that you'd like? Something that will help the kids' college fund--which with your kids, probably means any time now?"

Janine just shot him a skunk eye.

"C'mon, Louis. As soon as we get everyone together..." Venkman clapped his hands. "This is gonna be great!!!"

Fifteen Minutes Later
The other two Founders of Ghostbusters International--Dr. Ray Stantz, Professor Egon Spengler (with Janine beside him)--as well as the fourth original member of the team, Winston Zeddemore, looked at Venkman and Louis with apprehension.

"What's going on this time, Peter?" Egon asked.

Venkman exhaled, and started pulling some papers out of his briefcase. "Louis and I just got back from that meeting with the guys at Sony..."

"This have anything to do with that dick Clavet?" Ray asked bitterly.

Louis adjusted his glasses nervously. "Um, no, it concerned the option Sony exercised as part of clause 5 of the original licensing contract you guys signed with Columbia, which of course Sony inherited when they purchased Columbia Pictures and..."

"You remember when Aykroyd got all excited, and got Sony to option the Gozer crisis in 2004? Thought it would be a bang-up idea to adapt and maybe finally get that third movie made?" Venkman asked.

"Yeah." Winston nodded. "Said something about doing it in CGI so that maybe they could get Murray onboard with the rights issues."

Venkman shrugged. "Well, I just sat through the presentation. It's..."

Egon sighed and got out of his seat. "I left the lab for this? Peter, you know that I really don't care a bit about any of this media nonsense. Besides...” he pulled a calculator out of his pocket and walked off. "...The mold I was studying is getting ready to spore at any time."

"But Egon..." Venkman tried to talk him back. "You're in it! It concerns you!"

"My wife, whom I trust implicitly, can act as my agent in this matter." Egon told him. "If she judges any of it to need my attentions, it will recieve it."

Venkman chuckled awkwardly at Janine, sitting there with arms and legs both crossed, giving him the same look she gave her son to make him confess to setting the kitchen on fire again.

"Okay, okay, fine..." Venkman rolled his eyes. "See if he gets to go to the launch party. First, it's going to be a video game instead of a CGI movie, which is neither good nor bad--video games are a big industry, and some games can get just as much attention as any movie. The good news is that this could really be a high profile project and drum up a lot of excitement. We'll be on every current platform, even the DS and the Wii. And yeah, they got Murray to get onboard with his share of the licensing rights and everything. They got Ramis, and Hudson, and Potts to come back to do the voices..."

"I guess that's okay." Ray nodded. "I mean, they'd be higher profile than Maurice LaMarche and Frank Welker. And without Lorenzo Music..."

"The bad news is that, well, Sony decided to pass on the original idea, the second Gozer crisis." Venkman continued. "The Garou, the Order of Hermes, even the rest of Ghostbusters International--they said that obtaining all the rights and clearances to everybody in GBI would be too expensive and complicated. Some of those guys don't even work for us anymore..."

Winston rubbed his chin. "Yeah. One thing we did do right is let the franchises negotiate their own likeness and portrayal contracts. Expressly to keep them from taking it up the hind end like we had to...Sony probably knew Ben King wouldn't give Bill Murray final say on his voice actor, and Chelsea Aberdeen wouldn't let them lobotomize her."

"The second problem is the ton of 'market research' they shoved in our faces." Venkman interrupted, continuing his earlier point. "Sony says that the fans don't want to see Roland or Bo or Vincent or any of the GBI guys anyway. They don't even want to see us like we are now--they want us the way they remember us from the movies."

"Wait a minute..." Ray asked. "This isn't that thing from a few months ago with us looking like the Marines from Starship Troopers is it?"

"Well, no." Venkman answered. "Which is one silver lining to the whole thing. Here..press kits for everyone..." Venkman started passing around the pages and stills.

"Not bad CGI, I admit..." Ray said, holding up one almost photo-realistic depiction of Dan Aykroyd playing him. "But what's with this cartoonier one?" The second picture he held up was Aykroyd in a flight suit, but with a simpler, more stylized look.

"Those are for the Playstation 2 and the Nintendo Wii." Louis explained. "Due to the less advanced graphic capacity of those system, they'll use a simpler storyline and more cartoon looking graphics. I bet my nephew Lawrence will like it."

"So what story are they going with then if not Gozer Part Two?" Ray asked. "They still kicking around that stuff with Hellbound?"

"Nah." Venkman shook his head. "They decided to go with some of that stuff in late '91, right before we shut down. That stuff with Pappi Sargassi, and the Ivo Shandor cult--but without any mention of Zodiac Imperative or the Ectosphere going down. They said they don't want to present some depressing, downbeat story where we go out of business at the end, even if that's what really happened in 1991. They want to leave the sequel options open, you know."

"In the game itself, the player will control a character hired to be the 'fifth Ghostbuster'." Venkman continued.

"Isn't there already someone on staff in real life at that time who filled that roll?" a resentful Brooklyn voice asked.

"Not one who could be an avatar figure for teenage boys." Venkman responded. "They kind of hemmed and hawed on the customization options, but I bet there'll be some sort of mechanism for that. It's just too standard nowadays."

"It'd be pretty stupid if they didn't." Ray nodded.

"I gotta admit, I'm not happy about everything. Venkman noted. "I really could have done without them rewriting Dr. Selwyn as my love interest."

"Dana was in LA at the time." Winston remarked. "And you did hit on the sub shop girls a time or two."

"Totally out of habit!" Venkman said defensively.

"Great. I guess it was probably one of Murray's conditions for coming off his golden throne and agreeing to do the game." Ray sighed. "Why in the world did we ever let him get ahold of such a big share of our media rights?"

"Somebody had money in his eyes at the time." Winston quipped. "We ain't gonna name any names, but his first name begins with a 'P' and rhymes with 'Dieter'..."

"I won't even go into having to have his brother in the game..." Venkman said brightly.

"What?" Janine asked.

"Well, they did have Brian Doyle Murray play one of the Parkview doctors in the sequel." Winston pointed out.

"Yeah, but they want him to play the Mayor this time." Venkman told them.

Winston belly laughed. "Brian Doyle Murray as Jock Mulligan?! Oh man, now that you said it I can see it...I can just see it..."

"So who's actually writing the thing?" Ray asked. "I mean, I know it'd be too much to hope that they got J. Micheal Straczynski..."

Venkman chuckled. "Well, the main work is being done by some guys working for Sierra. But they're going to give the script to Ramis and Aykroyd to polish up."

At this, Janine snorted. "Are they gonna at least try to do Egon and I right this time? Or is Ramis still being a douche?"

"They didn't really say." Venkman replied. "I figure the best we can hope for is nothing said one way or another."

"I hope they do better than that." Ray commented. "It got so I couldn't even look at the fan fiction, what with all the godawful crap where Egon romances some fangirl's self-insert who had a genius IQ, huge breasts, multiple PhDs, and black belts in a few martial arts."

"Ramis better not f***ing write me the way he did in that crapass movie sequel." Janine spat. "If I'm a doped-out whore again, I'll kill him. And before I kill him, I'll torture him. Painfully."

Ray, Winston, Louis, and Venkman looked at each other uncomfortably. "Janine..." Venkman finally said. "It was almost twenty years ago. I mean, I understand where you're coming from--I had to put up with Dave 'Slimer Little Buddy' Coulier for God's sake--but could you please just let it go?"

"I'll try." Janine exhaled. "It does help that no matter what kind of slander Ramis or the stalker fangirls put out, at the end of the day, it's my bed Egon's climbing into. But it still sucks to have to deal with that shit."

"They took a look at some of the equipment designs you guys have worked up." Louis said, pulling out some more pictures, hoping to divert away from the rather uncomfortable subtext of the most recent conversation. "Like in this one here you can see basically a version of the micronized mood slime modules you designed to be added to the proton pack. "

Ray chuckled as he looked over some of the equipment drawings. “Well, yeah, but we don’t really use those much. Ninety nine times out of a hundred, the proton pack in standard mode and the ghost trap takes care of everything. And out of the remaining two cases either one of the other three modes will do the trick, or we need mood slime, which means we need lots of mood slime, meaning the blowers. It just didn't prove all that useful in small amounts. I mean, heck, it took us twenty years to bother with adding the other three pack settings to the standard package."

"I could only imagine how bad Egon might be fuming right now." Winston rubbed his forehead.

"I know, I know..." Venkman retorted. "Even I study enough to know what a load of crap that sounds like. But they say it makes sense for 'game play purposes' and is 'visually arresting' and stuff like that. Works for me, anyway. This is a video game, not a thesis on psychokinetic quantum dynamics."

"There's one more thing." Louis prodded Venkman.

Janine's eyebrow shot up. "Oh?"

Venkman looked around before continuing. "This doesn't go out of this room, except to Egon, okay? But some of the guys at Sony are watching this game very close. It does well, and maybe that third movie will get off the ground at last. They've even secretly been talking with these two guys from the American version of The Office to do a script."

"That's awesome, isn't it?" Louis gushed. "I mean, The Office is pretty cool, even though Hayden insists the British version was better, but it has Steve Carrell in it and he's pretty awesome and..."

"Yeah, yeah." Venkman cut him off. "So that's the scoop, Boys and Girls. Media exposure, licensing money, maybe even a new movie at last. What's not to like?"

"You already know my answer to that, Doctor Venkman." Janine said icily, standing up and heading toward the laboratory.

"She'll like it once she gets used to it." Venkman said hopefully. "What's not to like about being famous again?"

"She got rather burned by it last time, Peter." Ray shook his head. "But it's still a lot to look forward to."

"You know it, Man." Winston agreed. The three high-fived each other.

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