Monday, November 28, 2011

Movie: The Gamers

For today's post, I thought I'd stick with the basic topic of gaming, but break it up by talking about a gaming-related movie rather than moving on to talk about another online game. And this time, its tabletop games rather than online games. Woo!

The 2002 movie The Gamers, produced by Dead Gentlemen Productions, is a movie about a group of college guys and the characters they play in a looks-like-Dungeons-and-Dragons-but-it-isn't tabletop role playing game. Despite not exactly being a major motion picture, the movie is very well-done.

As I said, the movie follows a bunch of guys and the characters they play in their game. While this may sound odd, it actually works quite well, and the transitions between 'worlds' are quick and seamless. If you're confused about why this was done, think about it- how interesting would a bunch of guys describing the actions of unseen characters actually be? By following both sets of characters, the movie gives the audience a visual connection with them both, one that is often played for hilarity.

The in-game characters are played by the same actors who play their real-life counter-parts, making it easy to follow which guy controls which character. The actor playing the game master in the college-world does not make a physical appearance in the game-world, but he does serve as a voice-over/narrator.

The game-world cast includes Rogar the Barbarian, Newmoon the elf, Nimble the thief, Ambrose the magician, Magellan the other magician, and Mark the Red, a Bloodfire Berserker.

The college-world cast includes the DM and the players, only one of which (Mark, who plays Mark the Red in the game-world) is actually named, and who only pops in once in the entire movie.

Both sets of characters have quite a bit of dialogue, which, on the whole, tends toward the funny. The college-world characters' dialogue often continues into scenes depicting their game-world counterparts as a background voice-over. This includes an extremely funny scene in a bar early in the movie wherein the group's thief player steals several items from an NPC next to him at the bar, up to and including the man's trousers. In the game world, the characters do not speak- the action is narrated entirely by the college-world characters. This mix of miming and voice-over makes the scene much funnier and more interesting than if the thief had merely repeatedly stolen various items from the NPC or if the action had been described entirely in the college-world.

The dialogue is also realistic for who the characters are (college guys and characters in a role-playing game), which is a nice touch. Please note, there is some strong language, so if that's really going to put a thorn in your side, you may want to skip this movie. It's not used just to throw in some swear words, though- this is how many college students speak, and it doesn't sound out of place.

The plot revolves around the game-world characters attempting to rescue a princess and defeat an evil being called "The Shadow," any mention of which always earns three repetitions of his name from various members of the group, with varying emotions. Along the way, they encounter old acquaintances, deal with strange phobias and accidental death, fight bandits, and forget that they're supposed to be asleep. Trust me, it's way funnier than that sentence makes it sound. There are so many ways that this movie could have turned into an embarrassing disaster, but the filmmakers took the little they had to work with and spun, if not gold, then something very close. The battle with The Shadow provides an amusing use of spell and weapon, and the ending has a nice little twist.

One thing that's really nice about this movie is that you don't have to know anything at all about tabletop games to enjoy it. I was completely clueless about every aspect of gaming when a friend of mine first sat me down and showed it to me, and I still understood what was going on and found it hilarious. Of course, if you're more familiar with gaming, you will probably find the movie even more entertaining, but as I said, knowledge of tabletop games isn't necessary to find The Gamers extremely funny.

The Gamers is a highly entertaining movie based in geekery but not requiring any knowledge of it for enjoyable viewing. If you like funny, cleverly done movies and don't mind low-budget films, you might enjoy The Gamers.

The movie may be found directly on the Dead Gentleman Productions website, here: <>.

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