October 15th, 2008
I was watching the latest Bonus Round last week, and at the conclusion of the show they brought to mind something that piqued my interest. That is celebrity status in the games industry and how developers are finally being treated the way that they deserve to be; as rockstars.
It then occurred to me that it doesn’t just end with developers. Indie developers, game writers, fan artists, bloggers, comic artists, critics, amatuer video producers are all now becoming celebrities, even within their collected societies. Celebrity in games is taking off and at a rapid pace.
My next realization was that only three to four years ago the games industry wasn’t really like this at all. Developer diaries, interviews and commentaries were rare, there was no such thing as a game critic let alone games bloggers. The only celebrity that existed back then were the greats like Will Wright and Shigeru Miyamoto and despite their stature, they could hardly be regarded as celebrity, they were just professionals at what they do.
I think that a great deal of this change can be attributed to the growth of the internet. With faster connections speeds we can now download an interview and witness the personality of developers instead of just seeing their name and a small photo in a print magazine. There is also the rise of content distribution which has created an upsurge in content creators versed in the gaming niche, giving names to people like Gabe and Tyco, Ben Croshaw and The Angry Video Game Nerd. And with that blogging, in all its trendiness, providing a platform for a new wave of games writing thanks to writers like Stephen Totilo, N’gai Croal who are soaking up this new life of gaming celebrity. Then there’s podcast, social media and the rest of it, I’m sure you catch my drift.
The great thing about the birth of gaming celebrity is that thanks to the savage community that surrounds it, celebrity is often earnt, even if you play the anti-celebrity role such as Jack Thomson or perhaps even Dennis Dyack, you’ll need a thick hide to get there. The flipside to this is the manufacturing of celebrity which publishers have already been putting in motion since they first caught taste of gaming celebrity. I guess the developer diaries are in some ways a form of brand establishment for the developers, sometimes this can be difficult to decipher though, other times it is blatently obvious. Other methods of forced entry in gaming celebrity include Alison Carroll.
While Alison Carroll is great to look at, I’m sure that we can all distinguish the differences between money spinners like her and movers-and-shakers such as Jonathan Blow and Jason Rubin. The fact that so much celebrity stems from worthwhile discussion is only positive for the industry.
With games celebrity increasing at a consistently high rate, I don’t think that it’ll be too long before articles like this one become standard or at least a little more popular. Considering the effort that goes into the game development process this can only provide positive recognition to the people that deserve it.