Video games have been a decidedly “uncool” past time for the most part of their existence. In fact, in almost every teen movie pre-2005, the character who spent their time playing video games was guaranteed to be lacking in: a) friends b) girlfriend or c) anything closely resembling a social life. This slightly insulting and sweeping stereotype was an idea perpetuated by the media and society for decades. In recent times, however, there has been a shift in what it means to be a “gamer” or, more specifically, how being a “gamer” can *shock horror* be considered a cool and even normal thing. Celebrities and their increasing involvement in this industry have had a hand in this.
For one, they’re bigger fans than you’d think; Mila Kunis once confessed to spending hours each day playing MMORPG games like World of Warcraft (also a favourite of comedian Dave Chapelle). Megan Fox is addicted to Mortal Kombat; Snoop Dogg and Daniel Craig both admitted to a penchant for Halo. With such high-profile, diverse fans, it’s clear to see that video games aren’t as specific a niche as previously assumed.
But, of course, there is more. The late Robin Williams was well-known for his love of Nintendo, going as far as to name his only daughter ‘Zelda’, after the princess in the game series of the same name. More than this, he was an ambassador for the company, fronting multiple marketing campaigns for the Wii and, later on, the Wii U. He was one of the first to begin a popular trend amongst celebrities: video game marketing. Here in the UK, we’ve seen girl groups such as The Saturdays lead advertisements for Nintendogs and similar games. We’ve had Chuck Norris in an unforgettable short for World of Warcraft. British director Guy Ritchie and Hollywood favourite Robert Downey Jr. teamed up to produce the trailer for Call of Duty: Black Ops 2. Celebrities aren’t just claiming to enjoy gameplay but are getting involved with video games in real and effective ways; the art of playing in virtual reality is receiving recognition in ways never imagined.
In an interesting twist, stars have even begun to design their own games. Vin Diesel (another WoW aficionado) started up Tigon Studios so as to produce and develop his own games; the first release, The Chronicles of Riddick, was well-received by fans. Kim Kardashian is also following this route, though on a smaller scale, by releasing a mobile game on the app market. Kim Kardashian: Hollywood involves social climbing, shopping and ‘hanging out with super-BFF-Kim K’, yet it’s the top download on both App markets, showing that gaming is evolving and there is now a market for games like this! It’s as wonderful as it is horrifying.
Clearly, the ball has dropped. Games are lucrative. Enjoyable. Played by all. The stigma left behind from a bygone era is slowly washing away, making it easy for people to exclaim that, yes, Dungeons and Dragons is my thing and who cares because you know what? Vin Diesel also loves it and he’s a total fricking badass. So stick that smashed stereotype in your pipe and smoke it.