Rap and Video Games in the 'Dog Pound'

Brackett agrees that using a big-name star who's also very open about his love of gaming to promote HHGL, shows just how much video and computer games are in the mainstream.

"It's a public thing that shows a well-known person that appears in commercials with Lee Iacocca playing video games," he joked. "A lot of people play video games -- I think Robin Williams is a big PC gamer -- but you don't see him in video game leagues."

He points out that long before HHGL, hip-hop artists and labels were making games like "Def Jam Vendetta" and the 50 Cent game "50 Cent: Bulletproof."

Heroes or Villains?

The inherent danger in creating the HHGL is that it could perpetuate the negative images of both industries.

But Owen dismisses this argument, saying that not only have organizers chosen sports games for competition that are unlikely to offend anyone, but that they were very particular about who could participate.

"These guys are all squeaky clean. They do a great deal of community work, and I'll tell you Snoop made us -- as part of the contract for him to be involved in this -- give to his local charities," Owen said. "They've been checked out and we think rather than being a negative impact on society, are actually a positive one and we're going to highlight that."

The HHGL is broken up into four teams and features a roster that's a veritable who's who of celebrity talent.

The teams are dubbed the Legends, Icons, All-Stars and Bosses, and include Cypress Hill founding member B-Real; musician, actor and model Tyrese; pro-basketball players Jalen Rose and Carmelo Anthony; and Wu-Tang Clan member Method Man.

And of course the league's commissioner, front man and public face is Snoop Dogg -- sans the gin and juice.

"We're not gonna have 50 Cent on there," Owen joked. "Not that we're saying anything bad about 50 Cent, but I don't want to be around when the bullets start flying."

Though Owen's portrayal of the league's members as upstanding and productive members of society may be true, it's in stark contrast to the perception some of them have left behind from their earlier and possibly rowdier days.

Snoop himself was an admitted marijuana smoker and has rapped extensively about using the drug, as has Method Man. And one of Cypress Hill's biggest hits was a song called "I Wanna Get High," a less-than-cryptic ode to smoking pot.

The Elder Gamer

Whether the HHGL has any effect on people's perceptions of gamers and hip-hop enthusiasts remains to be seen.

But Reyes and Owen agree that focusing on a niche in either market just a few years ago would have seemed impossible. Thanks to Father Time though, the gaming community is growing -- and aging.

"The generation that grew up on arcade games and Pac-Man, now they have kids and some of them even have grandkids," Reyes said.

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