Mike Gallagher, the new ESA president, has mentioned the need for the game industry to produce more celebrities. This is largely driven by the assumption that more celebrities equals higher social status that then equates to more influence within political circles.

Mike mentioned this is his initial NY Times interview, and brings it up again when interviewed by GameDaily BIZ during E3:

Bono walks in and there’s this bow wave and this entourage and orchestra that follow him and he can get a meeting in anyone’s office just like that. (snaps fingers) Our industry has a challenge to meet that we need to create those types of star power capabilities on the Hill and we’ll reap the benefits of it.

Obviously, he’s motivated by the political angle given that’s one of the primary roles of the ESA. This does bring up other questions, such as:

  • Who would our celebrities be (star designers, publisher CEOs, game characters)?
  • What other benefits (or harms) would a more celebrity-oriented industry have beyond political sway?
  • Are celebrities totally antithetical to the team based nature of game development?

While the IGDA, with our focus on advancing careers of game professionals, has made a point of providing credit where credit is due (eg, via mandatory attributions for the Game Developers Choice Awards, and our ongoing efforts to set crediting standards), we are not chasing celebrity status per se.

What’s somewhat surprising is to hear the head of the PUBLISHERS association calling for celebrity. Certainly things have improved in recent years, but publishers are still very much about controlling and pushing the corporate brand. And, having individual celebrities running amok commoditizes the publishers’ role (much like record labels and musicians).

Hmm, unless of course, Mike is expecting his member companies‘ CEOs to be the celebrities…

(A more mundane example is a little boasting in front of retail clerks - via Greg.)