From Sega Retro
|Place of birth: United States|
|Date of birth: 1974-03 (age 49)|
|Role(s): Spokesperson, Tester|
|Education: Fremont High School (1992), San Jose State University (Bachelor of Business Administration and Management Science; 1998)|
James "Jamie" Bunker is an American businessman and former Renovation Products game tester and spokesperson, most notable for starring in a well-remembered 1991 advertising campaign for the Mega Drive horizontal shoot-'em-up Gaiares.
A San Francisco Bay Area native, Bunker joined Renovation Products in 1989, and was one of the company's earliest employees. Employed as a video game tester, he was still attending nearby Fremont High School while working for the company, and was only sixteen years old at the time. Although one advertisement claims Bunker was employed as a game tester when he was only twelve, the minimum legal working age in California is generally fourteen, and Renovation Products was not opened until 1989. While he was possibly serving as an unpaid intern at another company when he was only twelve, the ad is likely instead referring to when Bunker developed a passion for video games in general.
While working for Renovation Products, he was regularly sent by the company to attend various Consumer Electronics Show events, and while working as a game tester, he formed a relationship with another Renovation employee who still remains "the love of his life."
Gaiares advertising campaigns
In 1990, Jamie Bunker was selected by Renovation Products to be the spokesperson for their upcoming Sega Mega Drive game Gaiares, with the photoshoots taking place that same year. Bunker posed with the game's United States release in a series of three advertisements, with each labeling the seventeen-year old spokesman a "professional gamer". Contrasting with the often juvenile and exaggerative statements of other game advertisements of the day, Renovation Products' advertisements simply featured Bunker presenting the game with a recommendation of its quality; one even extolled Bunker's credibility as a game tester.
The advertisements' boldness has seen Jamie Bunker inherit a humorous niche of Western gaming culture, with his advertising campaign growing to become celebrated as genuine and even charming by a number of modern critics. Having developed a reputation as one of the Mega Drive era's most fondly-remembered advertising campaigns, Bunker has since seen himself become strongly associated with Gaiares. He also still owns the original prints of the three advertisements.
|“||When I told Retro-Bit during a meeting that they should find Jamie and recreate the ad I didn't think they'd actually go do it, this is amazing.||„|
— Game preservationist Frank Cifaldi
Sometime in the early 2020's, video game preservationist Frank Cifaldi was in a meeting with aftermarket publisher Retro-Bit. When discussing the topic of a rerelease of Gaiares, Cifaldi suggested the company should track down Bunker and recreate the original advertisements. To his surprise, they took his idea seriously. Retro-Bit located Bunker, lovingly recreated the original advertisements, and even built much of their marketing campaign around the man's endorsement - notably including a reproduction of the "Can You Say Gaiares" shirt and exclusive interview with Bunker in the eventual 2022 release.
also published in:
- Main article: Photos of Jamie Bunker
- Jamie Bunker at LinkedIn
- The Forgotten Professional Gamer article by Todd Ciolek at Kid Fenris (Wayback Machine)
- Unpublished: the real Jamie Bunker article by Derrick Sobodash at CinnamonPirate.com (Wayback Machine)
- Where Are They Now? article by Ray Barnholt at 1UP.com (Wayback Machine)
- Gaiares Is Getting A Physical Re-Release With The Help Of The Kid Who Promoted It 31 Years Ago article by Damien McFerran at Nintendo Life (Wayback Machine)
- Gaiares Is Back! Pre-Order the Best 16-Bit Shooter Ever Made! video essay by Defunct Games at YouTube
- Interview: Jamie Bunker (2021) by Retro-Bit
- File:EGM US 020.pdf, page 35
- http://www.1up.com/features/where-are-they-now?pager.offset=1 (Wayback Machine: 2015-11-06 00:18)
- http://cinnamonpirate.com/2007/07/unpublished-the-real-jamie-bunker/ (Wayback Machine: 2010-10-30 20:12)
- @frankcifaldi on Twitter
- Gaiares/Promotional material
- GamePro, "March 1991" (US; 1991-xx-xx), page 77
- Game Players, "Vol. 3 No. 4 April 1991" (US; 1991-0x-xx), page 33
- Game Players, "Vol. 3 No. 5 May 1991" (US; 1991-0x-xx), page 25
- Sega Visions, "April/May 1991" (US; 1991-xx-xx), page 33
- Game Players, "Vol. 3 No. 7 July 1991" (US; 1991-0x-xx), page 21