It’s estimated that the video games industry now generates more revenue than the movie industry. With more and more people getting into gaming, it comes as no surprise. From mobile gaming to eSports, there are more ways for people to play than ever before. With that success brings celebrities, who are taking on bigger and bigger roles in video games than ever before. This article looks at the impact of those celebrities in video games.
Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater
Much like how Tony Hawk changed skateboarding, he also greatly impacted the video gaming industry with Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater revolutionised skateboarding games. Not only was it a great game in its own right, but it featured a cast of real life skaters, from the titular Tony Hawk to Bob Burnquist, Chad Muska, Rodney Mullen, Kareem Campbell and plenty more. For many, this game was their introduction to real life skateboarding celebrities. The recent Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 & 2 Remaster, released in September this year has also reignited fans’ love for the old games.
As video games evolved, stories began to be told not just through text, but also through voice-overs. With fully voice acted games becoming the expectation, so the hunger for voice actors grew, and this is another area where celebrities have changed video games. Arkham Asylum is a famous example that featured the voice of Mark Hamill as the Joker. Video game voice-overs have gone beyond simply reading scripts, to allowing celebrities to craft dramatic voice-over performances that breathe new lives and personalities into video game characters.
Beyond: Two Souls
As the technology that powers games increased, so did the level of involvement by celebrities. Whereas Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater only used the likeness of its celebrities, games like Beyond: Two Souls began to make use of their acting talents too. Motion capture and facial tracking technology allows celebrity actors to express themselves in ways that can be accurately carried over to their digitised counterparts. Games like Beyond: Two Souls bridged the gap between movie and video game, and celebrities like Ellen Page and Willem Dafoe lent performances to it like they would in a movie.
Fortnite became a video game phenomenon almost overnight, and has penetrated mainstream pop culture in a way that few other games manage. With such widespread appeal and awareness, Fortnite has leveraged this to break new ground with celebrity performances. Musicians such as Travis Scott and Drake have held live concerts inside Fortnite, allowing fans from around the world to digitally attend while they play the game.
These kinds of performances are relatively new in games and represent a completely new angle for how celebrities star in video games. We may one day see digitised events becoming mainstream.
Hideo Kojima is well-known in the video game industry for his love of Hollywood movies. His games often reflect this, with heavy use of cinematic cut-scenes and dramatic character performances. Death Stranding in particular reflects this, featuring incredible performances from the likes of Norman Reedus, Mads Mikkelsen, Lea Seydoux, Guillermo Del Toro and plenty more.
Beyond performing cutscenes and heavily scripted events, Norman Reedus in particular was motion captured extensively. This allowed Kojima to digitise Norman Reedus and use his performance as fluidly as the main character in any other video game, being controlled by the player and seamlessly moving about and interacting with the world.
The involvement of celebrities in video games has grown, both as the technology and size of the video game industry has grown with it. Celebrities now can feature as cameos, voice actors, or full on motion-captured characters in games. With them, the line between movie actor and video game actor continues to blur.
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