Washington, Feb. 7 (RFE/RL) - Two veteran spies, who for
years ran the world's most powerful intelligence agencies, have put aside their ideological differences and joined forces to help create an interactive computer game called "Spycraft: The Great Game".
William E. Colby, Director of the Central Intelligence Agency from
1973 to 1976 and Oleg D. Kalugin, Chief of Foreign Counterintelligence of the KGB from 1973 to 1980, have teamed to
participate in a computer-simulated espionage adventure. The game is
being produced by Activision, a company headquartered in Los Angeles
with offices in London, Tokyo and Sydney. The company sells and
markets products under the Activision and Infocom trade names.
"Spycraft: The Great Game," puts the player into the role of a
rookie CIA operative who must infiltrate the world of international
espionage to prevent the assassination of the Russian president.
Colby and Kalugin portray themselves in the game, acting as
consultants to the player. Both men were flown to Los Angeles to
authenticate the script, written by British author and journalist
James Adams, and act out their scenes for the game.
"I was given copy of the script and I read it," Kalugin told RFE/RL. "In the beginning I thought it was something really trashy, but as I plowed through the pages, I found it quite fascinating and topical because it reflects the real conditions in Russia today."
It was not the first face-to-face meeting for the two spy masters.
Kalugin says that he and Colby first met five years ago at an
international espionage conference in Berlin. Their paths continued
to cross frequently.
"Over time we developed kind of a relationship that allowed me to
entertain him in my Moscow home just several months ago," Kalugin
said. "This is again a symbol of change, that I, as a KGB general,
can entertain the former CIA Director at my house in Moscow and
nothing happened. It is really something unbelievable. Since then,
we have both been involved in this project and remain on friendly
Maryanne Lataif, Director of Corporate Communications for Activision, said that both men were sought for the project because "the mix of their life experiences were so compelling."
The game will be produced on a CD-ROM, a disk which is like a
computer video tape, running sound and pictures on the computer
Lataif says the participation of the two men will stimulate an
interest for the product. "The espionage genre is proven popular in
mass media such as books and movies, but it is really unexplored in
the CD-ROM market," she said. "We wanted to set the thriller in the
post-Cold War era and make it authentic."
But Lataif admitted that Activision ran into some unexpected
difficulties in maintaining that authenticity. She said that because
of national security concerns, the Russian government does not allow
aerial photographs of Red Square. Many of the game's scenes take
"Sets had to be pieced together from hard-to-find photographs and
using a mat-painting technique," she said. "It was important because
there is a scene where the Russian president addresses a huge crowd
in Red Square."
Replicating CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia was easier, she
added. "We used a still photograph of the building and the CIA
provided us with stock film footage of the inside."
She said for one scene, producer Andrew Goldman gathered more than 150 Russian extras at a studio in Hollywood and filmed them cheering and waving banners. Most of the scenes were shot in the studio with
When asked about the acting debut of Kalugin and Colby, she answered with a laugh, "They performed very well."
Kalugin was more candid: "It is difficult for me to judge my own performance, but I had fun really. I thought it was something I would never try... I did receive an invitation from the Actor's Guild of the United States to become a member, so apparently I was taken seriously enough if they made this suggestion."
Both men received an advance for their participation and will be
"Spycraft: The Great Game" will be in U.S. stores later this
month, but Activision could not say when it would be available in