When The Rock introduced the first Xbox

When The Rock introduced the first Xbox

It happened twenty years ago. Yes, two decades have passed since Dwayne Johnson, aka The Rock, attended the Microsoft conference at CES 2001 alongside computer industry tycoon Bill Gates to unveil the definitive design of the first Xbox. The engagement of a prominent face of the international cultural panorama was certainly not new for the promotion of a videogame product, but it remains an iconic moment in the history of the Xbox division, which, twenty years later, is worth analyzing.

Let's go back, then, to when The Rock presented the first Xbox to find the offshoots of the current video game industry.

The Microsoft conference at CES 2001

Xbox: Bill Gates Unveiling Final Design It must be said that CES 2001 was not the first appearance of Microsoft's original game console. In fact, Xbox had already made headlines during the GDC, similar to when it was revived years later with the announcement of Project Scorpio (Xbox One X). So with a lot of talk, but no actual physical presentation of the console. Also for this reason the Consumer Electronic Show conference remained much more in mind, where the final design of the console was actually shown for the first time.

However, the thing that allowed this event to conquer the sands of the time was certainly the "skit" between Bill Gates and Dwayne Johnson (at the time mainly known by his nom de guerre, The Rock).

That somewhat embarrassing exchange of compliments (prepared at the table and, probably, aware of this reaction arising in the viewer) represented the first step for a collaboration that continues today, now that the former wrestler, after the small screen, has also conquered the cinema. But why is an event so short, concise and also quite clumsy as a big step for the gaming industry?

The Rock before Dwayne Johnson

Xbox: The Rock at the time was mainly known for his profession as a wrestler As already mentioned, in 2001 The Rock was not yet the Hollywood star with which we identify it today. At the time, he was best known for his feats in the WWF rings, where he had won the world champion title five times.

The presentation took place on January 6, just under five months away compared to his big screen debut in The Mummy - The Return, which was released in US theaters on May 1. This means that Microsoft had chosen him not as a cinematic reference icon, but more as a television star, more similar to the home environment that the newborn Xbox had to reach and attack.

Xbox: The Rock in its years wrestler's gold In recent years we have witnessed a surge in collaborations with relevant cinema personalities, capable of bringing their profession into the videogame world in a very unified and fluid way. The actors are no longer simple voice actors of their alter ego, but become it through the same process that often sees them acting on the big screen, now approved for the use of cutting-edge technologies, including motion capture, face replacement and Stagecraft.

It is interesting to note not only Xbox's fortune in having started a collaboration with what would become one of the most important faces of the contemporary star system, but also the evolution that both the entertainment industry ( represented here by The Rock), and the vision of video games within the latter.

The evolution of the concept of video games in the last twenty years

Xbox: the debut Microsoft within the video game industry has changed the cards The early 2000s were a fairly transitory period, between the taking root of IT standardization and the digitization of entertainment sources. Video games were still linked to the idea of ​​another product, capable of being able to tell stories, but in a much less spectacular and "cinematic" way than we are used to today. It was the heyday of tie-ins, created with the one and only intent to capitalize even more aggressively on the name of a prominent film through mostly mediocre video games (and other media products); adapted "haphazardly" to a language too discordant from its original source to be able to give relevance to a videogame work (other than just for profit).

However, during that period of uncertain time, the seeds of the future we are living today began to be planted. Both Microsoft and Sony have moved in the direction of a hybridization between media, but also in the transmedia and multimedia territory (let's not forget the history of Xbox One, born as a center from which to draw not only on a videogame offer, but also on everything another entertainment ecosystem). And it is precisely in events such as the presentation of Xbox during CES 2001 that we find the foundations of this process.

Xbox: the evolution of The Rock mirrors that of Microsoft videogames On the one hand we have a new player in the bloody game that takes place in the videogame field, ready to revolutionize the way in which the mass audience looks at this medium, hitherto considered by most to be a pastime for children. On the other hand, the ready-to-fall mask of Dwayne Johnson, son of the small screen who understood the possibilities that the cinema was still able to offer, contributing to a new centrality of cinema on television (which was undergoing the same crisis that had lived when the latter arrived during the second post-war period).

Both have evolved in such a way as to reach an increasingly varied audience, increasingly imposing and increasingly linked to a cinematic vision of visual spectacularization , led by a push towards digitization that was able to change the concept of the moving image forever.

Xbox: The Rock and Bill Gates during the presentation at CES 2001 This is the evolution not only of Xbox , but of the entire gaming industry over the past twenty years. All seen through a fleeting and embarrassing exchange between a wrestler close to his film debut and an entrepreneur who was about to enter a fairly complex and stereotyped market. Today we are reaping what personalities like them have sown: a mixed media universe, which blends in its different characteristics and dialogues with each part in the game, without ever taking anything for granted.

We hope this brief but intense analysis of that time The Rock introduced Xbox was of interest to you. Let us know what you think. We look forward to seeing you in the comments.

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