Cliff Bleszinski, Games And Celebrity
Tonight, Cliff Bleszinski will appear on Late Night With Jimmy Fallon to unveil Epic’s latest game, but there’s more at stake than a possible trailer for Gears Of War 3…
Tonight, in an NBC studio somewhere in New York, Epic’s Cliff Bleszinski will pull up a designer chair opposite Jimmy Fallon and chat about his latest project. Since Bleszinski’s appearance on the show was first announced, the discussion has focussed almost entirely on what game he’ll be talking about. Could it be Bulletstorm, the new title from Epic’s internal studio People Can Fly? Could it be the official unveiling of Gears Of War 3? Could it be some exotic new game that none of us could possibly guess?
Let’s start by saying that, if Cliff Bleszinski is on Late Night With Jimmy Fallon for anything other than the unveiling of Gears Of War 3, we’ll be astonished. But what seems even more astonishing is that Bleszinski is filling a slot on national television at all. Since when did the appearance of a game designer on a chat show normally populated by actors, musicians and celebrities become less interesting than whether or not they’ll confirm the existence of an inevitable sequel? Have videogames permeated mainstream culture to such a degree that this kind of exposure is now de rigeur?
We certainly hope not. When Tim Schafer appeared on Jimmy Fallon’s show last October to promote Brutal Legend, it seemed to us like a moment of quiet revolution. It should have been Jack Black mugging for the crowd, accompanied by Lemmy, Ozzy and the assorted rock Gods that contributed their voices to the game. These people could turn in a winning performance on prime-time television in their sleep. Instead the audience was given Schafer.
We couldn’t have been more pleased – at last, the person who creates the game is considered worthy of addressing the masses about what will make it so special. Until now, the most famous names in gaming have been plumbers, hedgehogs and buxom explorers. Our celebrities are all digital but, with the continued support of shows like Late Night With Jimmy Fallon, they needn’t be for much longer.
If Bleszinski knocks it out of the park, and is as engaging and enthusiastic as we know he can be, a slew of people used to associating entertainment with human faces will be more inclined to pick up whatever game it happens to be. If they enjoy it, the next time Bleszinski is involved with a project it will be his face they’re expecting to see, and the notion of humans acting as the public face for videogames will no longer seem so alien.
Part of the reason why videogames have struggled to crawl out of the cultural ghetto is that the public can’t relate to them in the same way it does other forms of entertainment – after all, you can’t invite Lara Croft on a chat show. As a result, the idea that individual talent or artistry plays any role in the medium is that little bit harder for a non-gamer to grasp, and even the most talented designer is almost always less respected than the IP they’re working on. If Martin Scorsese was a game designer, he’d probably be stuck on Goodfellas VII. As Cliff Bleszinski takes to the stage tonight, try to keep that in mind.