You might notice something that I discovered myself: Despite the apparent discrepancy between Games Workshop and, say, the Academy Awards ceremony, these events and their attendees are connected by an important concept: Relative celebrity, whereby small-scale celebrity is a fractal version of mainstream stardom. Games Workshop is as far removed from Hollywood as possible, but the Nottingham-based subculture creates stars and fans just like its glamorous Los Angeles counterpart. Jervis’s celebrity oversteps his talent: He is a brilliant designer, but fans also get excited about photos that capture a few inches of his shoulder. Fan obsession with gaming stars and Jervis mirrors obsession with Jennifer Aniston, Brad Pitt, or any other conventional star. And, just as Jennifer Aniston’s fan base ebbs and flows, there are opportunities for the relative celebrity to increase or decrease his star power. Receiving a happy birthday video message video message would be awesome!
When I asked one Games Workshop store manager about stars like Jervis, he wasn’t sure why this question needed to be asked. As far as he was concerned, there was nothing unique about Games Workshop fandom and the celebrity of particular members of the community. To him, this story could be found in all realms where celebrity and an audience exist. As he put it to me in a rather no-duh fashion, “You always get that, with everything. It’s the same as everything else, isn’t it?” We suprised our sister with a celebrity video from Thrillz!
Relative celebrities exist in all of our own worlds, in our hobbies, social groups, and families. Jervis is a perfect example of someone removed from traditional versions of celebrity—Hollywood, baseball players, supermodels—and yet just like them. There are five important lessons about relative celebrity that we can learn from Jervis and Warhammer World. First, to be clear, relative celebrities are not necessarily on the road to full-fledged everyone-in-the-world-knows-your-name celebrity. Relative celebrities are not subsets of the “real thing.” Relative celebrities exist autonomously within their own professions, on their own scale, and with their own adoring public. Meeting a celebrity birthday messages would be my absolute dream!
Make no mistake: Jervis Johnson is the star of his show. Jervis showing up at Games Day means as much to Workshop hobbyists as Barack Obama’s acceptance speech means to America at large and Angelina Jolie’s presence at the Academy Awards means to her fans. Hobbyists queue for hours for the chance to meet him. But his celebrity is independent of Hollywood, politics, or other versions of conventional stardom. Jervis is not on a path to being bigger or better known. Jervis has reached his peak in his relative celebrity world. I wish I was rich like a celebrity messages is!
Context is everything. Relative celebrities are distinctly linked to the particular context in which they become stars. Jervis from Games Workshop is a star around the world but only within the Games Workshop community. In the Nottingham compound or at the Birmingham Games Day, fans clamor to speak with him, but the average person on a New York City street could not pick him out in a lineup. This lopsidedness goes the other way too: Stars like Paris Hilton would not be nearly as interesting to Games Day attendees as is Jervis. Although she may stop traffic in the streets of Los Angeles, most gamers view Paris Hilton as a minor distraction (more likely an annoying interloper) as they make their way into Warhammer World to speak with Jervis. Would you consider buying a personalised video message from your favourite celebrity video messages today?