In that strange time period nestled between 9/11 and the Obama administration, the video game industry—specifically the console market—thrived in previously unimaginable ways. With Microsoft and sony raking in numbers worthy of massive Hollywood production companies and global theater chains, and the mobile gaming boom of the teens waiting in the shadows for phones to catch up, the aughts were the era of Xbox and PlayStation, of launch parties attended by massive celebrities, of blue and green carpets instead of red ones. It was the golden age of gaming, or at least, the time period when the industry tried hardest to ape Hollywood.
I recently stumbled across a TikTok in which a person longs to experience the historical moment that was the PlayStation 3 launch party, which took place on October 8, 2006. There, wrapped in a variety of satin and high-sheen fabrics, their eyes rimmed with black liner, the It Girls of the aughts posed for the camera, shimmied on the dancefloor, and maybe probably did coke in the bathroom. “All of the girls were there,” the TikToker says. “Textbooks will write about it, why lie,” the caption reads. Lindsay Lohan, just a month before she famously called Paris Hilton (who was also at this party along with The Simple Life co-star Nicole Richie) a “cunt” in a paparazzi video, can be seen rubbing shoulders with Kim and Kourtney Kardashian, who were not yet the media moguls we know today.
But this wasn’t the only gaming event sparkling with star power. Almost every launch party—whether it was for consoles like the PS3 and Xbox 360 or games like Halo: Reach and gears of war—was full of celebrities holding up physical copies of games, walking out with swag bags, or grinning next to someone in Master Chief cosplay (Paris was at most of them). Whether they were there because they were paid to be, or just because they wanted some free drinks, every celebrity worth a damn during that time period was at game industry events.
Times have changed. The games industry is struggling to reckon with its massive growth during the pandemic years; to deluge of layoffs mark this struggle. The Xbox Series X/S and PS5 didn’t launch with brand-safe carpets and the hottest Disney stars. But I will always remember the heyday, when the girlies played—or at least, showed up to the game parties. In memory of that time, we’ve gathered the best celeb sightings from aughts-era game events. Click through to see just how wild that time period really was.