Maroon and Gamer: Celebrity Endorsements in Gaming

A few months ago, I wrote about how high-profile games have had certain celebrity voice actors such as Liam Neeson and Burt Reynolds in Fallout 3 and Saint’s Row: The Third, respectively. Some celebrities and athletes will go so far as to develop or publish video games. And some celebrities will even sit down and play the video game as some sort of promotion for the game’s release.

The topic of this piece was in part due to an article from Kotaku about how Mike Sorrentino, aka The Situation from Jersey Shore, is going to get in the business of developing video games. The official statement from either Mike or his management says that, “Not only am I very proud to introduce Jersey culture into the social gaming and mobile application industry, but also very excited that my family is a part of it too… I know Jersey Shore viewers and my other fans will love them too.” Now before you strike your face with your hand until it’s numb, I can see this as a positive. The Jersey Shore name will only be attached to mobile games so you won’t see anything on an Xbox 360 or PS3 — so I’m thanking my lucky stars.

It’s not all bad, though. Some celebrity endorsements can increase the notoriety of a product. Curt Schilling, former Major League Baseball pitcher and Arizona Diamondbacks player, founded a game studio after his retirement. The studio, dubbed 38 Studios, developed a new game called Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning that was released earlier this month. With writer R.A. Salvatore, famous for the Forgotten Realms novels, and artist Todd McFarlane, who is the creator of Spawn, Reckoning received high review scores and is dominating the United Kingdom sales. I remember even seeing a local Arizona news station covering Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning because of Curt Schilling’s involvement. I think this type of interest from a former baseball player is very intriguing and really aids the video game industry in notoriety and the reputation of profitable business venture, if done correctly.

Some celebrity promotions fit the dictionary definition of being spectacular and amazing. Before Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception was released last year on PlayStation 3, someone either at Sony or developer Naughty Dog decided to let Harrison Ford play it. The game, which was inspired by Ford’s antics as Indiana Jones, was being played by him in his old age. The best part is that he actually enjoys playing it, smiling and saying that “I’ve never seen a game like this” and “it’s very easy to get into.” But don’t let me ruin it for you; let the video show you here. If this doesn’t put a smile on your face, I don’t know what will.

Whether you like or hate celebrities endorsing games is completely irrelevant. What is important is that the gaming industry is being recognized as a profitable and lucrative industry and the more celebrities that back gaming, the more people that will jump ship and experience stories and moments in ways that movies and books simply can’t.

Sound off in the comments below or send me an email at shfawcet@asu.edu with your comments, opinions or complaints of celebrity endorsements.