We’re back with yet another instalment of Respawning’s Let’s Talk series, where every Friday we get every one of our charismatic writers together to discuss a new topic! 

Nice man Keanu Reeves has been back in the limelight after the announcement that he’d be starring in Cyberpunk 2077, so this week we thought we’d talk about the good, or bad, sides of celebrities in video games!

Javier

50 Cent: Blood on the Sand, because it’s the best game ever… No I kid, I never played this awful GTA knock off – This is a bad example of a celebrity video game. One of my genuine favourites has to Samuel L playing the corrupt cop Frank Tenpenny in San Andreas, who turns out to be a big big part of the game. I think this really stuck with me because I knew his voice and he brought a lot of depth to a video game character, something I maybe hadn’t noticed in games before this. It made the cut scenes so enjoyable!

Chris

I’m struggling to recall a time a celebrity in a video game has ever been really good, in all honesty. Most times a celebrity is in a video game, the game itself is just an ad for them, with little to no actual substance – Javier’s aforementioned 50 Cent, Mary Kate and Ashley’s abundance of PS1 crap, Spice Girl’s Spice World, and Michael Jackson’s Moonwalker to name a few. You also have mini ads like Burt Reynolds in Saints Row 3 and Gary Busey in HITMAN that don’t really add anything to the games themselves.

On the other side of the coin, when a celebrity is there but the game isn’t about them, they’re often in voice acting roles that they don’t suit because they haven’t been trained for that specific type of acting. It’s not worth it for a developer to bank on an actor’s fame, only to put them in things they can’t really do. Looking at you, Broken Age.

So, is there any time it’s at least alright for celebrities to be in games at all, then? Well, I guess times like Keanu’s Johnny Silverhands are alright – With motion capture, they’re essentially a digitised actor playing a role. But even then, the focus is the actor as the character, as opposed to the character themselves…

So I guess, ultimately, it’d be better for video games to stop trying to cash in on those who gained fame outside the medium. Our experiences aren’t really enriched by, like, Scarlet Johansson as Master Chief, because really, we’re here for the later, not the former. And if a celebrity wants their own game, they should try harder. Ask themselves what the title offers aside from them – is the experience something genuinely interesting, or is it, say, to hype up your new fashion label? Because if its the later, just take out ads somewhere. You waste your time, and the time of others, with a weak experience that won’t actually offer anything otherwise.

Dea

So, famous people in videogames right? There’s been a few, weather by voice or face as well, everyone’s fawning over Keanu’s face and name being dropped left right and centre all over Cyberpunks gorgeous ass. Full disclosure, I don’t really pay attention to famous people at all, so I have little if anything to say. Though, I would like to see Kitt Harington in some more stuff.  

Alexx

I like it when celebrities pop up in games, though it really isn’t a deal breaker for me whether they appear or not. I like to project myself onto the characters I play as and so a well known voice or actor can break that for me. 

Though it was in voice only, I loved playing Saints Row 4 with the voice of Nolan North for The Boss as he added a whole new level of comedy to an already hilarious and brilliant game.

Mikey

I like to think that my entry covers both the bad and the good side of celebrities in video games. I’m about to delve into my love of pro wrestling, more specifically, pro wrestling video games here and pick Fred Durst’s appearance in WWF Smackdown: Just Bring It. Yup you heard it right, the Limp Bizkit frontman was a hidden playable character who came with his own entrance and moveset. It wasn’t too random given that The Undertaker was using Limp Bizkit’s ‘Rollin’ as his entrance theme at the time and Fred Durst had actually appeared at Wrestlemania that year to play ‘Taker to the ring. But it was still odd that I was able to pick Fed Durst to defeat the likes of The Rock and Stone Cold if I so wished. This was dumb but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t love it.

Credit to Chowder908

Clarissa

I don’t really have much of an opinion on celebs in games. Unless the game can’t stand on its own. I enjoyed Rami Malek in until dawn and I always like hearing a familiar voice whilst playing a game. Adding a celeb just makes it all a bit more fun. BUT if the appeal of the game is all in the celeb then that’s no good!

Joe

For me, I think celebs in games can be a fantastic addition given the right context – For example, Keanu in Cyberpunk is brilliant. Snoop Dogg as a kill announcer in Call of Duty Ghosts? Not brilliant. Meme-worthiness aside, it’s just cringey.

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