As I was studying in a cafe today, I happened to be listening to Kinda Funny Games Daily, as some sort of ritual. Despite dedicating myself to focusing on my work, I failed miserably in that endeavour. A question came up in the podcast that caught my attention and I felt like I needed to get it down in writing.
“Can you guys explain the big deal about Drake? Why was the gaming community so excited about it? It’s just a celebrity playing games. So many celebrities are open about their love for gaming. I just don’t understand why Drake is so popular for playing it. *insert examples* we seen celebs on so many shows on Youtube and Twitter. Why is drake such a draw? Is it the unexpectedness? Is it the bigness of Fortnite and its cultural relevance such that celebs can’t hide playing it?”
Tyler “Ninja” Blevins, a Twitch streamer whose profile grew massively in the wake of the popular new game, Fortnite, was mentioned in a tweet by Drake that they were playing the game together on 15 March. Following which, the tweets became commonplaced.
The gaming community blew up instantly, with some claiming that it is a pivotal moment for the entire community. This is in the context where several celebrities, such as Logic, already play video games. Logic is affiliated with the competitive gaming team, FaZe and has his own gaming channel. Thus, the question was posed on Kinda Funny Games’ podcast – why was this instance such a big deal?
This phenomenon led to more celebrities jumping onboard the already popular Fortnite. I can attest to how addictive and good it is, even distracting me from my favourite MOBAs. This has resulted in Epic Games declaring a Battle Royale, where 50 celebrities will go up against 50 pro-gramers on Fortnite.
More important in this post, however, is Kinda Funny Games’ response to the question. I took it down to the best of my listening abilities and it was a very insightful response.
“I think it’s a perfect storm. Ninja who is very good at what he does. Fortnite at the apex of its popularity. Drake, who people don’t typically associate with video games. Unexpected nature of this.
Good planning on the part of fortnite? I do think the response does not feel manufactured and that’s what the gaming community latched onto. We can smell fakes from a mile away. If there is fraudulent activities going on, the community will call it. It felt like a moment.
There is nothing that makes this particularly special – it is just someone else playing games. The key is […] how celebrities don’t have a back-and-forth with their fans. It’s a one-way street through which viewers know about their lives through music or interviews. Playing video games? It is like the Jimmy Fallon stuff you were talking about.
My favourite stand-up comedian, Bo Burnham, wrote an article one time talking about the fetishism of celebrity and how bizarre it is that we’ve all done karaoke sometime in our lives, but watching Emma Stone do karaoke gets 10 million views. [Insert working at IGN and meeting game producers example]
When you meet celebrities, and I had the opportunities to meet a few, with a couple of exceptions, they are just people going through their day, they’re doing their jobs. When their done with that, they are going to go home and be with the people they love and do the things they enjoy (e.g. video games). I love that there’s something about the demystification, the glimpse through the clouds of Olympus, and into the the heavens, where these rich, celestials, isolated beings dwell.
It goes back all the way to ‘30s Hollywood magazines and “It’s the mystical land of Hollywood, where the larger-than-life stars are dwelling! By the pool…Marilyn Monroe!” That sort of thing. It’s an element in itself. They are the closest thing to Greek Gods we have left in the modern world. When one of them comes down and has a moment with the common humanity, we kind of get jarred by it. In this case, it was very pleasantly jarring as we watched these celebrities struggle with Discord – with the joy of online communication.
It is nice to see people come to our level where it is not denigrating. I don’t like to see them dragged to through the mud – “You are human! Haha, see whose suffering now!” A lot of people get off on that. I think that is why the Judge Judy show exists, you know, seeing people get their comeuppance or something. I don’t like that for entertainment, but I like it when it is in celebration.
We can put up Let’s Plays and make the same quality of videos and make the same kind of shitty jokes. We have 20 thousand people watching it. They have millions of people watching it because it is a celebrity. It’s just people making jokes that some people do understand and other don’t understand. [Reference to REACT] There is a fascination that people have in seeing people try things or do things that either you know well and want other people to experience for the first time, or something that you don’t expect someone to be doing. It is very weird and bizarre, but it is a thing of human nature – the views don’t lie when it comes to this. There are things we all do – we all play video games [mentioning playing games on phones].”
All credits to Kinda Funny Games for the podcast.