The Forgotten Professional Gamer

The history of “professional gamers” is long and frequently hilarious, stretching from the days of high-scoring arcade champions up through the celebrity of Nintendo’s Howard Philips and the smash sensation of WCG Ultimate Gamer. Other alleged video-game experts had briefer stays in the spotlight, and one of them was Renovation’s Jamie Bunker.



Jamie and his spectacular mullet appeared in no less than three advertisements for Renovation’s shooter Gaiares, and they ensured him a special place in the halls of early 1990s game marketing. In fact, a grown-up, de-mulleted Jamie looks back on his time as a Renovation spokesman with the right sense of humor. Yet he wasn’t the company’s only professional gamer. An ad for Arcus Odyssey extolled the knowledge of one David Izat.



This Arcus Odyssey spot is obscure today, even among those who fondly remember Renovation’s Gaiares campaign. That's not because Arcus Odyssey lacked a T-shirt and pronunciation guide. It’s because David Izat looks just a little…unwholesome.



And there’s the difference. The Gaiares ad presents Jamie Bunker as average '90s guy who just really likes a particular Genesis shooter. The Arcus Odyssey ad transforms a normal Renovation game producer into a shadowy nerd-goblin whose obscene, knowing grin would strike terror into any child paging through a new Gamepro issue. Oh, he’ll teach you a thing or two about fun. So many, many things.

David Izat and Arcus Odyssey had little time to teach anyone anything about fun, as they soon gave way to other Renovation titles and less eerie marketing. This was unfair to both of them. Arcus Odyssey is an enjoyable Gauntlet-style action-RPG and one of the better Renovation offerings. And David Izat probably didn’t deserve to be turned into that game's ghoulish overseer.

2 comments:

Paul said...

I had to dig up an old copy of Games Magazine from 1982 just to make sure I was right, but there was another such ad that came to mind: http://www.raraku.com/files/Classic%20Game%20Print%20Ads/Phaser%20Patrol.jpg

Discoalucard said...

So I read this bit and not more than two days later than I come across this very same advertisement. So damned creepy!