Will Ferrell Is to Star in an Esports Comedy, and That’s Not the Worst Thing Ever

Last night it was reported by Variety’s Justin Kroll that Will Ferrell will be starring in an eSports-centered comedy and, as you can probably imagine, the community isn’t entirely thrilled by the news.

The comedy, which is currently untitled, will be co-written by Michael Kvamme and Jordan Dunn, who have worked together as writers for I Swear and Winchester Palace and have been announced as the screenplay writers for Spongebob Squarepants 3. Gary Sanchez Productions (Step Brothers, Bad Judge, Get Hard) will be producing the movie with Mosaic Media Group (Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby, What Happens in Vegas, Elf) and Legendary Pictures (Jurassic World, Warcraft, The Hangover I-III).

Allegedly, the comedy will run in the same vein as past Will Ferrell comedies. The plot revolves around his character, who is an “anomaly” in the scene for being one of the only professional gamers that refused to retire in his late twenties. While the rest of the plot is unclear, it’s a pretty safe bet to expect a lot of screaming and other bizarre behavior. Evil Geniuses and Fnatic are supposedly in talks to make appearances in the film, but it was not specified which teams will specifically be featured.

This is not the first eSports comedy that was announced this year, with Rick and Morty’s Dan Harmon having been revealed to be working on a similar miniseries with Jesse Cox and Michele Morrow in October. There was a knee-jerk reaction to that announcement, too, but it’s time to calm down and look at things from another perspective.

When you think about eSports in 2016, the year has been a monumental one. Rick Fox all but single-handedly paved the way for immensely popular traditional sports figures and organizations alike, including Shaquille O’Neil and Paris Saint-Germain, to bring eSports into a spotlight that was so desperately needed. As ESPN and Yahoo!, among several others, launched sections of their sites that were solely dedicated to competitive gaming, and as record-smashing prize pools made news headlines elsewhere, the world began to truly take notice of what was previously an unrecognized industry.

ESports was launched forward in a way that we could have never imagined, and it is because of the hard work of everyone involved. Journalists that shed light on what it means to be a professional gamer, investigators that exposed scandals to force parties to be held accountable, contributors to sites information hubs such as EsportsWiki, team owners who banded together to demand stability, production companies that have partnered with networks and restaurant chains to feature eSports on primetime television, lawyers that worked behind the scenes to make sure players received fair contracts, and everyone else that has been working tirelessly to professionalize the industry have helped eSports make leaps and bounds into being accepted by those who only saw eSports as a bunch of kids playing games.

What happens when something becomes mainstream?

The media parodies it.

Granted, I can understand why people are upset as they are. One would be hard-pressed to find a significant percentage of people who actually want their industry to be associated with Will Ferrell, and you can’t really blame them – Will Ferrell’s comedies are, to put it bluntly, historically terrible. When gamers are already portrayed poorly in mainstream media, with Adam Sandler’s 2015 film Pixel and CBS’s The Big Bang Theory being so campy and unpleasant that it would be no less than a blessing to forget one’s own viewing experience,  it can be frustrating to have to watch your scene be subjected to being the butt of a poorly-structured joke yet again. Of course, we have films such as Free to Play, The Foreigner, The Smash Brothers, and Team Liquid’s Breaking Point that provide quality insight to professional gaming, but these aren’t exactly highly-publicized feature films that have aired in cinemas. Movies that have already been created were designed with gamers in mind, were marketed towards gamers, and are mostly documentaries. Will Ferrell’s comedy won’t be able to say the same, so it’s understandable that the gaming community is beginning to feel more than a little exhausted with being portrayed as something to be mocked.

If you can force yourself to look past the vitriol you have towards the idea of the upcoming movie being a comedy, pay attention to what Will Ferrell’s movie means for eSports: We are mainstream.

This, by no stretch of the imagination, means that eSports has reached its end goal. As an industry, we have a lot to work on, on all fronts, before we can declare that we’re on the same level as FIFA or the NFL. This does mean, however, that we have clawed our way to the point where high-budget production companies are bringing on household names to create a movie about our industry. We have been recognized.

It is this recognition that, in my personal opinion, will be another substantial push in the right direction. A comedy starring Will Ferrell that is produced by a company that has the funds, and connections, to advertise to a significantly broader market has the potential to bring an even greater interest to our market. As viewers go home to their computers to find out what eSports actually is all about, more dedicated sponsors could come in to support our players – something that is desperately needed for those who are competitive members of the FGC, or those who play lesser-viewed games such as Hearthstone, who struggle to make a living off of just eSports alone and frequently have to take up multiple jobs to support their careers.

Is it the kind of exposure we would like? Maybe not – again, it’s hard to blame us for wanting to be portrayed in a serious light. That doesn’t make this a travesty to the scene, though. This is not the worst thing ever.

This is just the price of finally being as cool as we know we are.

Source 1|2|3

Image Source: Will Ferrell’s Super Mega Blast Max Indiegogo

A certified weeb that passionately live-Tweets his reactions from esports events, Sian is one of those people that hasn’t seen the sun in weeks. You can find him on Twitter @FriendlySenpai