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Manufacturer: Emote Games Ltd.

Most folks don't hunt just for food or sport, most enjoy being in the outdoors. So why would hunters want to track deer from behind a desk or on a couch?

Because in a video game, the animals are always in season, the air is always conditioned and the ticks and mosquitoes have to stay outside. Plus, how else can you deer hunt on your lunch break?

As graphics and game play steadily improve, many gamers are finding virtual hunting to be an entertaining replacement for the real-world experience. Take, for example, theHunter, a title by London-based Emote Games currently undergoing beta testing that will be inviting in the first round of registered users on Monday to enjoy the virtual experience.

Built on a 3D engine designed by Avalanche Studios, theHunter uses detailed foraging and bedding patterns to recreate authentic animal behavior. And with features like dynamic weather, realistic wind and scent detection, the game will quickly immerse you in the digital world.

TheHunter has also partnered with Boone and Crockett, North America's oldest and most recognized conservation organization, to promote realism and hunting ethics in the game.

"To have on board an institution with the history, expertise, and industry-wide respect that Boone and Crockett possess, we know that we have an obligation to them and hunters everywhere to get it right," said Morgan O'Rahilly, Emote Games CEO.

This partnership will also allow theHunter to incorporate the Club's widely recognized big-game scoring and records-keeping program. To learn more, read the full press release.

Ignoring the struggle for photo realism, the main difference between theHunter and the dozens of other hunting titles is its integrated online community. Each player creates a personal page to display their background information, communicate with friends and brag about trophies. Pages can even include YouTube videos from the real world. The network of friends built through this unique online community is a feature that Emote Games hopes will keep hunters coming back for more.

TheHunter is priced on a free-to-play, charge-to-upgrade model. This means that you can hunt mule deer and wander around the environment to your heart's desire. Extra guns and equipment can be purchased for a fee, as can licenses to hunt additional species. If you find yourself purchasing many items à la carte, the membership options will provide a convenient all-access pass.

Four species will be available to hunt at launch: mule deer, whitetail deer, wild turkey and elk. The initial environment, called the Evergreen Hunting Reserve, is based on Washington state. Because theHunter is an evolving online experience, new weapons, animals and environments can and will be released seamlessly over the upcoming months.

To check out the game, go to www.thehunter.com. There, you can register to receive information or discuss upcoming features on the message boards. On Monday, January 26, the first phase of pre-registered users will be able to download the game client and try out the game. With over 40,000 pre-registered users, many hunters will find the subscription fee to be a cheap alternative to the real thing, especially when the demands of the real world keep you from getting out into the woods.

Web site: www.thehunter.com

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