In Real Life

We Talk Video Games With Jimmy Fallon, Who Knows The Score

It is a cliché to say it is a cliché that a celebrity seemed like a normal person. So let’s just say that, in his office today, Jimmy Fallon seemed just as concerned about the next GoldenEye as you, though maybe more excited about the next Star Fox.

Technically it is Video Game Week at Late Night.

I got the impression every week is video game week for Jimmy Fallon.

All week long Fallon has been doing what no other late night host can be bothered to do: show lots of video games. “We treat video games like we treat movies,” he said today as we chatted in his office, World Cup playing mute on the TV near his desk, one of the two big-screen TVs on the other end of the office displaying his set, where Killzone 3 was being prepped for late night.

I have seen Jon Stewart joke about Doom with The Rock, but I otherwise do not expect that any other late night host would have been able to spend part of his morning discussing me whether he should system-link the two Xbox 360s in his office to get an eight-player FIFA match going or if he should put both systems on Xbox Live at the same time or what. (Sadly, I was stumped. Someone in the comments section here, please tell Fallon how to do it… I have no idea.)

From the couch next to the office desk of Jimmy Fallon, I can report that the host of Late Night is high on the Kinect (which he did not detect lag in when he played it on his show on Monday) but is losing interest in driving games. He, like me, thought Uncharted 2′s final area went on a bit too long (“I shot one of those yetis for like 20 minutes!), but unlike me he keeps a Nintendo Entertainment System in his office with a Zapper plugged into controller port 2 and Tecmo Bowl in the cartridge slot. He hasn’t started Red Dead Redemption yet because he fears it will be too good to put down and marriage needs some non-gaming time, you know.

Fallon’s proud of Video Game Week being a success this week so far. He said ratings are up for the first three days, which featured Kinect, Call of Duty: Black Ops and Need For Speed: Hot Pursuit (shot twice, Late Night fans, because a networking problem blinked the game out during taping yesterday). Tonight is Killzone 3. Tomorrow is Donkey Kong Country Returns, though Fallon was also hoping for the new Zelda, which won’t be happening.

It’s obvious that Fallon knows the score. When we talk GoldenEye 64, he knows where the sniper rifle is on the dam level and he’s as flummoxed as I had been when I told him that the new GoldenEye for the Wii won’t use the multiplayer map layouts of the original game. More importantly, for those who care about games being covered well on TV, he said that he wants to keep gaming coverage going on his show – and in his show – because otherwise, if some correspondent does it from, say, Los Angeles, “I don’t get to ask the questions I want to ask.” He also doesn’t get to try the stuff, which he wants to, for professional purposes I am sure (Hey, he reported to me that he hasn’t had a dropped call in Manhattan on his iPhone 4 yet; compared to an average of two per morning from his older iPhone).

One of the challenges with putting games on TV is that watching people play games can be boring. Fallon’s been fighting against that, rejoicing in his short-of-breath-after-30-seconds play of Kinect this week.

Back in his office, though, who cares how it looks. He’s got a cabinet full of games and controllers ready to amuse him and his co-workers when there is time. He rifled through it for me, pulling out a basket that had at least five black Xbox 360 controllers, another with two Wii wheels, reams of games. One shelf improbably contains both an NES cartridge of 10-Yard Fight and a DS box for The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks.

Given the out-of-sight location, displayed more discretely than the electric guitars he has out for display, consider it Jimmy Fallon’s secret stash:

The man finds time for games at home on Sunday nights, gets them on his show on weeknights and plays in his office. Oh, and mention Star Fox 64 coming to the 3DS and he gets pumped. I’d like to think I made his day. It doesn’t getter better than that, right?

Check out Late Night tonight for Killzone 3 and for the Donkey Kong finale to video game week Friday night on NBC.


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