Why are musicians so keen on video games
Over the years, many musicians have sought to expand their fame by indulging in a cameo appearance in a movie or hit TV series. It’s a popular trend, with the UK’s Ed Sheeran most recently jumping on the bandwagon by appearing in season 7 of Game of Thrones (much to the irritation of many fans, who felt that such a famous face had no place in the escapist world of GoT).
The cameo isn’t always requested by the musician. When filming Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, actor Jim Carrey insisted on the inclusion of death metal band Cannibal Corpse in the film, which had to adjust its shooting schedule in order to accommodate the insistent actor’s demands. As a huge Cannibal Corpse fan, Carrey even chose which song the band would perform in the hit movie.
Other movie cameos are equally random. The Foo Fighters’ Dave Grohl appeared as a drummer in The Muppets movie (and as Satan in Tenacious D!). Linkin Park’s Chester Bennington popped up as a white power skinhead in Saw 3D. And of course we all remember Britney Spears’ fleeting appearance in the hit Austin Powers film, Goldmember. Apparently, Britney called fellow pop princess Beyoncé, who co-stared in the film with Mike Myers, and asked for a part. The producers even accommodated her request to wear a bra that shot bullets.
However, movies are far from the only entertainment offering to appeal to musicians looking to put in cameo appearances. The video game industry is now responsible for generating more revenue than the movie and music industry. Gaming generated a total revenue in excess of $23.5 billion in the US in 2015, up 5% from the year before. The shift to digital and mobile gaming experiences has been a major contributing factor behind the trend.
With ever bigger budgets to spend on their productions, video games can afford to be more playful and experimental with their content. This has resulted in a number of cameos from musicians. Just as with their movie appearances, some of these were at the musicians’ request, while others were initiated by those working on the game.
Interestingly, cameo appearances in video games did take place even before the industry’s current meteoric rise to glory. Players of Omikron: The Nomad Soul in the late 1990s were delighted by the David Bowie soundtrack. However, game director David Cage didn’t stop there. He also sought Bowie’s help with level design and the storyline, as well as convincing the star to play two of the game’s characters. Ozzy Osbourne was also an early adopter when it came to involvement in video games, starring in Japan’s Holy Diver game way back in 1989. The game’s bizarre plot sees the player work towards adoption by good old Ozzy, in one of the more surreal gaming experiences of the 1980s.
More recently, musicians have made cameo appearances in several leading video games. Phil Collins became the first celebrity to physically appear as himself when he starred in Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories, performing one of his hits and being protected by the player (hopefully) from murderous assassins. Demonstrating the revenue-generating power of modern video games, the game pulled in more than $1 billion in the three days following its release. (By way of comparison, the music industry generates around $1.4 billion per month.)
Nor it is just contemporary video games that musicians are clamoring to be involved with. A number of online slots have recently enjoyed musical cameos. According to the Best New Bingo Sites website, slot machines featuring Motörhead, Jimi Hendrix and Guns N’ Roses are all available to players with a penchant for guitar-based rock music. Like the video games industry, the online gambling industry is enjoying healthy growth, as the expansion of digital technology opens slot gaming, online poker, roulette and more up to users of smartphones and tablets, as well as those on PCs and laptops. Globally, the industry is on track to double its 2012 revenue of $28.22 billion by 2018, with revenue of $51.96 billion projected for that year.
Again, it’s easy to see why musicians are so keen to join forces with online slot machine providers – particularly when their music is so intrinsic to the gaming experience. As both traditional video games and online gambling continue to increase their user base, we can expect plenty more musical cameos in the years ahead!