Yesterday, Twitter personality and community manager extraordinaire SixOkay, through the 15 Minutes Of Game podcast he co-hosts with Twitter personality and game industry marketing extraordinaire Weezul, issued a bit of homework for writers and bloggers concerning the lack of true “celebrity” within the gaming industry. I’ve always hated doing homework, but something tells me this is one assignment I might enjoy.
The first thing that comes to mind is a question; What is celebrity? I, personally, don’t really understand the concept in its entirety; that is to say, I understand the definition, but I don’t fully understand the widespread appeal. I suppose, in theory, the true purpose of “celebrity” as a concept, rather than as an individual, is the celebration of particularly impressive talent within any field. While that does sound good in theory, in practice it seems that when most people hear the word “celebrity” it seems to contain an inherent reference to movie stars, TV stars, and people who are famous simply because they are famous (or: the dredges of society). This is the way things are.
Why is this the case? Why is “celebrity” so incontrovertibly linked to, more than anything else, the film industry in such a widespread and permeating way? Why doesn’t this environment of worship, reverence, and fandom exist in the gaming industry for its pioneers, revolutionaries, and geniuses? Justin mentioned the fact that we tend to associate fame with the face, and while that’s very easy with film and TV, since the faces are real, it’s more difficult with video games, where the faces are fake. He compares the fame of Tom Cruise to the fame of Marcus Fenix. I partially agree with that thought; visual association is very powerful. On the other hand, I think there is a larger reason why, within the gaming industry, there are fewer revered names.
I think the lack of visual association necessitates alternative criteria for the definition of “celebrity” as it applies to the gaming industry, and I think some of these criteria are difficult for those in the gaming industry to live up to and aspire towards. First and foremost, in my opinion, is the need to stand out as an individual in an industry where team effort is absolutely necessary. There are a few who stand out in this regard: Cliff Bleszinski, Shigeru Miyamoto, Hideo Kojima, Will Wright, and Sid Meier are the first ones that roll off my fingertips. No man is an island, be they a superstar game developer or not. These men all had a great deal of incredibly talented individuals working with them to bring wonderful games to our platforms. They, however, put a face on the success of their titles, and have, in my opinion, become true gaming celebrities.
This, then, is the winning combination: do something worthy in the gaming industry, and have the force of will to put your personality forward and associate it with what you’ve done. As an introvert, I would find it very difficult, nigh impossible, to practice what I’m putting into words, and I can only imagine that this is the case for many of the brilliant developers and superstars within the gaming industry who are not on the list of gaming household names. If these individuals were able to take a page from successful community figures who have become such well-known and well respected members of the gaming industry’s public face, they could take a good first step at becoming iconic game industry celebrities. If not, then I think our list of well-known heroes in the gaming industry will remain woefully short, and that is a terrible shame.
What are your opinions on the scarcity of true celebrity within the gaming industry as a whole? Who are your gaming heroes, be they real or fake? Who do you think deserves more accolades and recognition than they get? Do you think I’m full of crap and make a frightfully invalid point? DISCUSS!