The NBA’s superstar forward Paul George held court at one end of the room, alongside fellow players Reggie Jackson and Andre Drummond as an enthusiastic team of cameramen vied to shoot their every move. To their left, a 16-year-old kid with a backpack (known as “Backpack Kid” taught a group of other kids how to do his famous “floss” dance. To the right, UFC stars Demetrius Johnson and Tyron Woodley were chatting about their favorite games to one-time WWE tag team champs The New Day. Just behind them was popular internet personality and Twitch streamer, Tyler Blevins, chatting with EDM artist and music producer Marshmello.
They were all present at the LA Convention Center, along with numerous other celebrities, to compete in the 100-person, 50-team global Fortnite Celebrity Pro-Am event. The event was hosted by the game’s publisher and developer Epic Games. The event, which was the first that Epic Games has sponsored, came less than a month after the company committed $100mn in winnings to events for a game that was only released in July of last year. As evidenced by those present, the game has quickly established itself as among the most addictive gamed around among athletes and other celebrities.
Celebrities have all sorts of pastimes, but gaming remains among the more popular activities among those from the world of sports, music and television. As every celebrity in the world now owns a smartphone, access to gaming is wider than ever before, with various apps and online games playable on all mobile devices. Who can forget the Pokemon Go craze, which attracted celebrities like Zach Braff and Josh Groban? Other games, such as Book of Dead and Asgardian Stones, both available from Mr Green, lend themselves to another popular pastime of celebrities: gambling. The site offers a wide range of slot games, as well as more classic casino games such as poker and blackjack, catering to a wider audience. Whether video games or poker, trying to win money is an added bonus that attracts numerous celebrities. Ben Affleck, Matt Damon, and Tobey Maguire have all been known to enjoy a bet or two. Such attention paid to a specific game such as Fortnite, however, is a relatively new trend.
Love among gamers
No other event could attract such a diverse gathering, which by the end of the night, inspired a dance between the Backpack Kid and George. It also saw the normally mute Marshmallow hug and scream with Ninja after winning the competition. The game became popular among NBA players last season. Only a small number of players, if any at all, were playing the game when training camp began in September. By the season’s end, half the league were engrossed. For anyone who was unfamiliar with the game, they likely first heard about it in March when rappers Travis Scott and Drake, along with NFL star JuJu Smith-Schuster, streamed themselves playing the game with Ninja. At one time, the quartet had 630,000 concurrent viewers on Twitch, shattering the site’s previous record of 388,000 on an individual gamer’s stream. Fortnite was the highest-viewed game on Twitch last month, according to Statista, with 127.9mn hours watched by fans of the game.