Okay. On with the show…
This week we’re looking at The Gamers.
Made in my home state of Washington by Dead Gentleman Productions in 2002 for about $1000, The Gamers is a love letter to late night gaming sessions with your friends. It opens with almost VGA level graphics of the main player characters, it’s acting is a bit on the poor side, and the writing was good not great, but none of that matters. If you have any experience with gamer movies, you’ve seen this one. It pretty much invented the genre, or at least defined it. You can tell by their casual mentions of “the dark elf with the scimitars”, that they were being very careful to not get into any legal trouble, and the name of the game is never actually mentioned.
The movie starts off with an introduction to the player characters (and yes, I finally mean players in the gaming sense, you can relax now) and a text crawl that mentions an evil plot by a villain called The Shadow. bunch of dorks standing in their dorm hallway, chatting about something gaming related, one of whom wants to use the new sword of ogre decapitation he got, when a girl in a nearby who is trying to study for finals goddammit tells them to be quiet. I’ve never been to college. Do people actually study there? I thought it was all drunken orgies…nevermind…
The gamers enter their little conference room, and get set up for their game. One of their players, Mark is absent, being out with this girlfriend. More dialog is tossed around that at a glance sounds like something a gamer would say, but isn’t: “I got your dice right here!”
Then we learn that the DM has gone with the classic tried-and-true method of character motivation: Killing everything and everyone the character has ever loved.
WHYYYY!?!…Because I said so. That’s why.
They receive a letter telling of a kidnapped princess, whose only hope is them. They go to investigate, and decide that the answer they seek might be at the bottom of a bottle of dwarven ale in nearby tavern. I’ve only been in one game where drinking a bottle of dwarven anything has ended well.
Uh…Rogar? Buddy? You alive?
The thief goes to get more drinks, and in the process tries to steal everything physically possible from the guy sitting at the bar, including his pants.
Then the director walks in, angry that they left him behind to die in a previous battle.
God I love director cameos, don’t you?
The angry warrior is about to kill the party, when Nimble the Thief attempts to backstab the poor guy with a ballista. There’s nothing against backstabbing with siege weapons in the rules, so it’s okay, and he proceeds to turn the obstinate giant into chunky salsa all over the tavern walls. Since they’ve now scared everyone half to death and can’t get any information off of the gore-splattered commoners, they leave.
Having ruined any chance of the DM being able to give them information, he resorts to having the princess show up as a blue jedi spirit and tell them where she is.
Help me…Please help me…I am a prisoner in the dungeon of the castle. My name is Zelda…wait, what? Shit, wrong game. My bad.
The group journey’s onward until they reach a river, and thanks to a system of flaws and perks, the mage is afraid of water. In their attempts to knock him out they get a little overzealous and end up killing him. Short one party member, they travel along the waters of Puget sound until they get ambushed by “The Bandit King”. The elf kills the Bandit King before he gets a chance to pontificate overlong (that means make a boring speech, for those not in the know). The DM vetos this, and continues on anyway, attacking the group. They appear to be losing, until they remember that Mark’s character has been standing in the background, staring off into the middle distance. Mark shows up, and wrecks house, winning the battle with a berserker bonus
A thousand-mile stare like that is usually reserved for the DM when he realizes one of his players is missing…
So they continue on to the castle where the princess is being held, and outside they find a familiar face. Their mage from earlier, or, wait, a completely different mage who just so happens to be played by the same actor and player. Adding new characters to a pre-established group is hard, okay?
They travel through the castle, until they come upon The Shadow, an evil Dread Pirate Roberts-type. After getting their asses handed to them, the mage comes up with a plan. Using baleful polymorph, he turns The Shadow into an ogre. The rest of the party consider this a very bad idea, until the fighter remembers the sword of ogre decapitation in his bag. They curbstomp the ogre and the day is saved, except that…the princess is nowhere to be found. they travel further into the castle, eventually stumbling upon a strangely well-lit corridor with a door, behind which they can hear voices. They decide to take no prisoners and charge into the room, in which a bunch of familiar dorks are sitting, Playing D&D. This leads to the most literal case of a total party wipe in existence as the movie ends with the girl from earlier storming in, not noticing the bodies, and tells the characters to shut up so she can study.
That was trippy, right?
Portrayal of RPGs – 4/5
The movie really feels written by a gamer, albeit one who was prevented from making more specific jokes thanks to copyright. I think if the movie had been allowed to actually say what game they were playing (all of their gamebooks had the covers taped over, but you could see they were using D&D 3.5 manuals) as well as reference it, it might have been a bit funnier, like it’s sequel, which we’ll get to next time.
The Plot – 4/5
I actually wasn’t sure how to rate the story here. It’s a standard fantasy save-the-princess plot. The dialogue was poor, and sounding like things someone thought a gamer might say if the observer had only been to a couple of games. But this movie did a great job with very little. was a pretty solid flick that made it’s way to having a cult-following among role-players. It’s got definite heart, and every gamer should check it out, unless they have to study.