So here we are, waiting for The Knights of Badassdom with bated breath. I love Ryan Kwanten and Peter Dinklage as much as the next nerd girl who likes handsome men, and I’m even more excited for any movie, television show, or web series that features gamers. Add in Summer Glau and Danny Pudi, and you have a solid recipe for success.
But alas! Who the heck knows when this sure-to-be masterpiece will be delivered upon us! In the meantime, we have to make do with the gamer flicks that Hollywood deigns to release. But once we get past Grandma’s Boy (a classic in anyone’s eyes) and Noobz (is anyone else just sad to see Jason Mewes being a 40ish perpetual teenager?), with what, exactly, are we left? There aren’t a whole lot of gamer-centric stories being told, but here are five that do a pretty fine job. Most can be found on Netflix’s Watch Instantly service, and the rest can be found on the web.
Why yes, I am a centaur. And yes, my centaur body is made of a cooler filled with beer.
From IMDB: “Voss is a gamer who is unemployed and looking for work. When a management position opens up at a gaming company, he interviews but lacks evidence of leadership abilities necessary to land the job. Given a week to prove himself, Voss does the only thing a rational adult would do; create a Utopian society for gamers. Voss convinces his gaming guild to follow him into the mountains and has Marsha, his best friend, document his abilities. However things get complicated when Shadow Hawk, his gaming nemesis, arrives to overthrow Voss’ kingdom.”
I love this movie more than words. I was never a LARPer, but if I was, I would be as committed to the craft as all of these people. Guys, the one guy is a centaur who made his costume from a cooler and bike wheels. Then filled the cooler with beer. Are gamers dorks? Maybe. But they’re the kind of dorks I want to be my boyfriend.
8-bit never looked so rockin.’
From IMDB: “Code Monkeys is an animated comedy about Dave and Jerry, two video game makers who have just got jobs at a company called Gameavision. What the two didn’t know was that their new boss, Mr. Larrity, is crazy. Watch as Dave and Jerry go through a multitude of misadventures at their new jobs at Gameavision.”
I’ll admit this series is the one of the five offerings that I’m more apt to put on and start doing something else, but the one thing that it excels at above all others is inside jokes. If you grew up in the era of 8-bit gaming, there are a myriad of gaming nuggets that will tug at your most sentimental of nerdy heartstrings. Whether it’s a familiar turtle patrolling the zoo or Steve Wozniak making a guest appearance, Code Monkeys will never fail to remind you just how old you are.
If David Mamet decided to write a play about DDR.
From IMDB: “In a post apocalyptic future, two rival gangs fight for control of Frazier Park, which to all intents and purposes is the remaining inhabited world. Gangs settle disputes for leadership by playing “Beat Beat Revelation,” a deadly version of a popular dance video game. The power of the land has shifted, leaving the local alcoholics to become meth addicts and worse. Can JTRO overcome the obstacles necessary to redeem Frazier Park?”
Not only is this a hilarious send-up of gamer culture, it’s also a hilarious send-up of sci-fi movie conventions. So if you’ve ever thoroughly enjoyed Blade Runner, Escape from New York, or The Matrix, be sure to check out this little gem. My absolute favorite thing about The FP is how goddamned seriously every actor takes the script. I’m not entirely sure all of them realize they’re in the middle of a satire.
Video Game High School
From IMDB: “The story about a down on his luck, young aspiring gamer. He has no friends. His cat hates him. His name is Brian. He loves playing video games. One day during a public match the number one gamer ‘The Law’ arrives to do a little bit of showing off. Out of nowhere Brian manages to kill ‘The Law.’ It’s the shot heard around the world. Because of all the hype, Brian gets invited to Video Game High School. While attending VGHS, Brian tries to achieve his dream of playing at the highest level of gaming. Along the way he develops a crush on Jenny Matrix, the JV FPS Captain.”
This is a delightful little web series that can be watched all at once as a movie on Netflix. It’s a little rough around the edges and often shows its low budget, but it makes up for it all with its huge heart. One thing I love, love, love about it is the way it deals with the players actually playing the games. We (the audience) see every thing via live action—meaning there are no video game avatars, only the real-life versions of the players we know and love being blown to various degrees of 8-bits. An exceedlingly clever way to work around expensive video game effects, to be sure, and a really effective way to keep us sympathetic.
The Adventures of Ledo and Ix
The best series about gaming I’ve seen all year.
From IMDB: “What exactly do video game characters do when we’re not around? What if they chat and bicker like we do, wonder and dream like we do, feel boredom and dread like we do, despite being 48 pixels tall? An 8-bit existential comedy, The Adventures of Ledo and Ix uses the visual vocabulary of retro video games to explore the human fear of both the unknown and the known.”
I can’t even begin to describe how much I love this web series. I gave money to the Kickstarter to get the second season going, and I couldn’t be happier with my choice to do so. Even if the second season never comes to fruition, I’m so pleased to have given the creator of this brilliant series my monies that I go to bed each night knowing I’ve made the world a better place. This is sort of the foreign film of all the selections I’ve given you in this article, meaning you actually have to take the time to watch and read everything to get the full story. But it’s worth it. So, so worth it. Ledo and Ix are absolutely the best two characters you never played in ye old Nintendo days, and you will all be better people for knowing them.