For a long while it seemed that gamers would be forever typecast as nerdy basement dwellers or as college-aged stoners slamming a Mountain Dew while pulling off a sick triple kill in Halo. Thankfully the exposure of gaming to a wider audience over the last few years, as well as different demographics voicing their love of the medium, is gradually helping to dispel the old stereotypes and show that gamers come in all shapes and sizes, colors and genders, and without a crippling Dorito addiction.
And, of course, it doesn’t hurt that some big names in Hollywood are making their video game fandom known. Here are a few you might not have known like to relax with Mario, Master Chief or Nathan Drake in their spare time.
7. John Carpenter
John Carpenter, the mind behind horror classics such as Halloween and Prince of Darkness, is also a noted gamer in his spare time. In an interview with gaming site Giant Bomb, the Horror Master—as he’s known on Twitter—said he was introduced to video games back in the early ’90s with the original Sonic the Hedgehog for the Sega Genesis. Since then, his enjoyment of the medium has only grown, with Carpenter listing BioShock, Dead Space and Borderlands 2 as some of his favorites. Last month, he compiled a list of his top six games of 2013, among them Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag, The Last of Us and Remember Me. Carpenter has even approached gaming professionally, directing the in-game cinematics for F.E.A.R. 3 and voicing an uncredited role in the 2002 adaptation of his own movie The Thing. He also said that, given the opportunity, he would love to work on an original horror game of his own.
6. Robin Williams
The voice of the Genie in Disney’s Aladdin and one of the most manic performers in the history of stand-up comedy, Robin Williams has a video game habit that might rival that of the average college student. Williams is an avid PC gamer, having named the critically acclaimed title Half-Life 2 as one of his all-time favorites. He’s also particularly fascinated by the online multiplayer component of titles such as WarCraft and the World War II-era shooter Day of Defeat. Discussing his hobby, Williams said he finds the nature of online gaming “amazing,” and that “It’s a world. It has its own mythology.” Williams was also invited to the 2006 E3 (Electronic Entertainment Expo) demonstration for Will Wright’s evolution simulator Spore, messing around with the game’s creature creator to the amusement of the audience. And in possibly the greatest ode to his gaming habit, Williams admitted he named his daughter after the titular character of Nintendo’s The Legend of Zelda series, a fact which he and Zelda discussed in a commercial for the 3DS remake of Zelda: Ocarina of Time in 2011.
5. Aisha Tyler
When not voicing the blunt, gun-toting Lana Kane on FX’s Archer or hosting the revamped Whose Line Is It Anyway?, comedian Aisha Tyler is very likely kicking your butt in a round of Halo or Gears of War online. Tyler is immersed in gaming not just personally but professionally as well, having lent her voice to roles in Halo: Reach, Gears of War 3 and Ubisoft’s upcoming Watch Dogs. And if you’re questioning her gamer cred, you best step off: when Internet trolls accused her of being a paid shill with no actual gaming experience for Ubisoft’s E3 press conference, she wrote a lengthy post on Facebook detailing her lifelong passion for games that stretches back to her childhood, having “missed the start of Return of the Jedi playing Tempest in the theater lobby” and “aced midterms after staying up all night playing Evil Tetris.” As icing on the cake, Tyler concluded her post with a picture of herself wielding a full scale prop of Gears of War’s iconic, chainsaw-equipped Lancer battle rifle.
4. Snoop Dogg
Snoop Lion, formerly Snoop Dogg and now going by his reggae moniker Snoop Lion, has made his love for the Halo series public in a collection of humorous videos with fellow rapper LL Cool J in which the two take each other on in multiplayer matches. But Mr. Broadus has shown up several times in the medium, playing himself in True Crime: Streets of L.A., Tekken Tag Tournament 2, as well as lending his voice and likeness to the character of Crow in the fighting game Def Jam: Fight for N.Y. He was also the protagonist’s mentor in last year’s downloadable rhythm game Way of the Dogg—and provided its namesake, of course.
3. Mila Kunis
That ’70s show and Family Guy star Mila Kunis has indulged in gaming quite heavily, to the point that it turned into a minor addiction. On an episode of Jimmy Kimmel Live, Kunis admitted she had played the massively multiplayer online game World of Warcraft, specifically “a kickass mage” in her words. Kunis had to stick to in-game text chat when a fan recognized her voice, and when other players noted her tendency to be in different time zones (due to filming), she pretended she was a travelling architect. She later had to quit WoW due to the long hours she was investing into the game, though given its addictive qualities it wouldn’t be surprising if she returns to it at a later date.
2. Vin Diesel
You know Mr. Diesel from The Fast and the Furious and Riddick films, or even as the voice of the eponymous character in animated tearjerker The Iron Giant, but you might not have guessed that Vin has been an ardent gamer for more than two decades. Believe it or not, Diesel is actually a massive fan of the pen and paper roleplaying game Dungeons & Dragons, and in spite of his image as an action movie heavy he hasn’t at all been apprehensive about showing off his love for the series—in fact, he has shown it off very visibly: for his role in xXx, Vin had a temporary tattoo of his character’s name, “Melkor,” scrawled across his abs. As well, he wrote an introduction to a book commemorating the franchise’s 30th anniversary. His love of gaming extends off the table and into the digital domain as well, having founded video game production company Tigon Studios. Tigon has produced three games based on the Riddick movie series that helped launch Diesel to stardom and voiced Riddick in two of them, as well as the driving game Wheelman to which he also lent his voice and appearance.
1. Steven Spielberg
You probably wouldn’t believe it if someone told you the man who invented the Hollywood blockbuster also designed a fun physics-based party game for the Nintendo Wii, but that’s the truth. Steven Spielberg, director of Jaws, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Jurassic Park… the list goes on, was also the lead designer on Boom Blox, a puzzle title in which players attempt to destroy their opponents’ towers while protecting their own like an explosive form of Jenga. Spielberg was also one of the creative minds behind the Medal of Honor WWII shooter franchise, having devised the story for the first entry in the series in 1999. Another, unfortunately canceled, project of his was LMNO, the placeholder title for an action-adventure game announced in 2004 that, had it been completed, might have been one of the first games to successfully forge an emotional relationship between the player and the main character, or so Spielberg and designer Neil Young (not the musician) touted at the time. His involvement in the games industry isn’t over yet, however. Coinciding with the reveal of the Xbox One last May, Spielberg announced he would be collaborating with 343 Industries to create a live action Halo television series in the near future.
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