It’s no big secret that I’m a Pro Wrestling fan. Nor is it a secret around the MyGamer aqua dispenser that I used to be a Pro Wrestler. Yes I’ve heard the snickers and jeers coming from you, my faithful co-workers, every other day or so in fact. Still, I’m happy that I disposed of the blue wrestling tights, and picked up the writing mights of a pen and paper, dropping myself ever so gingerly into the gaming journalism industry. Fortunately, it looks as if success, in either career choice, would have landed me at the Electronics Entertainment Expo, or as we cool cats call it, E3.
Now this isn’t to say that booth babes weren’t effective, because they most definitely had their place, it’s just that celebrities are a dual-purpose attractant. It can certainly be argued that they help attract those of the female persuasion, as well as those who are resistant to the lures of naked flesh, such as married journalists of good religious faith, who have no interest in booth babes (if you feel you’re one of the latter, I challenge you to gaze at Matt’s Top 20 booth babes of E3 2005 and not dribble just a tiiiiny bit!) The problem with this scenario, is that often the celebrities had absolutely nothing to do with the games being displayed. Jennie McCarthy might know how to open the CD tray of an Xbox, if given enough time to think about it, and “Jacko” could be seen as just scouting for well, whatever he scouts for. Many times, even if they had starred in a particular title, they still knew nothing about it, and probably hadn’t even touched it. Usually a question of “How do you like the game Carmen Electra” would get you an unassuming “mmm it’s good..really good” type of answer. This left me inquiring just how much they wasted on a given celebrity, when that cash could have certainly been much better spent in further development of the game.
Celebrities were still found here and there at E3, mostly to promote their own games, but no longer were they needed as cheap publicity stunts. Celebrities, in fact, were becoming big fans of the games and developers themselves. It was suddenly common to see Vin Diesel, or Robin Williams snapping photos of Tomonobu Itagaki and Hideo Kojima. The booth designs and props also began drawing crowds, as huge castles and dank swamps would tower over the E3 wanderers, and entice them into the folds of juicy gaming goodness.
Truly, it’s no coincidence that Hollywood and video gaming have started working very closely together, and in no other venue is that more apparent than E3. Certainly, the tinsel-town elite (both actors and producers), have not only helped video games adapt and become a cultural phenomenon, but have also been quick to embrace them as both legitimate lines of work, and sources of personal recreation. The benefit of this change is that at least now, it seems as though celebrities that are invited to attend a booth, generally have some decent knowledge of the games they’re pimping.
Just attending E3 this year, and meeting a wide variety of celebrities, has sealed the belief that the tie between gaming, and Hollywood, is only just beginning. Only time will tell whether that becomes a burden (Catwoman) or a blessing (Lord of the Rings). One thing is certain; Hollywood has begun to bow down slightly to the power of interactive entertainment. I wouldn’t lose too much sleep yet though Hollywood, as we’ll always have room for a few thousand-dollar voice actor extras! We’ll leave the light on for ya!