Chasing status

Gaming's flirtation with the F-list is beginning to look desperate, says Tim Ingham...

It's the Call Of Duty: Black Ops UK launch party, Battersea Power Station, 2010. George Clooney does a turn on the red carpet before slipping into VIP. Gold-digger Kanye is dressed in blue. Billy Bob Thornton stomps around like he owns the place.

It's the Call Of Duty: Black Ops UK launch party, Battersea Power Station, 2010. George Lineker does a gurn on the red carpet before slipping into VIP. Goldie talks to Duncan from Blue. Billy out of EastEnders stomps around like he owns the place.

I'm pretty sure I know the one Activision would have wanted to happen. And I'm 100 per cent sure of the one that did.

The grand unveiling of the Biggest Game Of The Year last week was a spectacular preening ground for has-beens and never-gonna-bes. The paps feigned interest; the gaming press stood stoically bemused.


The majority of the celeb attendees boasted a solitary standout talent; inspiring OK!-endorsed water cooler chit-chat for more than their permitted 15 minutes. Interestingly, all of them - and I mean all of them, from lower-league WAG Liz Cundy to talking bag of moist cement Alex Reid - had nothing at all to do with video games.

Does this matter? Did their two-bit pantomime have any impact on anything other than the shrill, luminous covers of the gossip mags it existed to serve?

On the one hand, not really. After all, whether there to cling onto their Holy Moly profile or just nab a freebie, the evening's F-listers evidently didn't do any damage to Black Ops' sterling week one sales.

Yet they were an worrisome reminder of the severe lack of glitz video games events can attract - and, crucially, a sure-fire indication that, to loftier elements of the media, this is an industry with a razzmatazz deficiency.

Like it or loath it, celebrities are a modern day currency - the better you can associate yourself with, the more attention and kudos your product is guaranteed. When video games' biggest global export can only beckon Gail Porter (The Comeback Years), Calum Best and those who owe month-long careers to ITV2, we might just have a problem.

Compounding the overall feeling of bewilderment, those recognisable names that did attend the Black Ops launch showed illicit signs of ungratefulness.


TV presenter George Lamb made a wisecrack about a top-notch CoD player on stage struggling to lose his virginity. (When Activision's camera was on him, of course, he instead opted to say the launch would be "insane".)

Singer Sophie Ellis-Bextor cut a troubled, fearful figure - later evidenced by her Tweet: "In a room of gamers. I feel so alone".

Meanwhile, the girls from reality show The Only Way Is Essex raised the risk of dihydroxyacetone poisoning in the room by 4,000%, yet still managed to scoff. I heard one lad sheepishly ask if he could have a photo taken with them because his girlfriend "loves the show". They asked him if he was certain he had one.

Can we really not do any better than this? Surely after Wii, BAFTA recognition and, yes, Call Of Duty's rampant success, shouldn't this sort of launch be a hot ticket for major superstars? Sadly not.

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