The Gamers is an Independently produced comedy by Dead Gentleman Productions, and focuses on a group of student role-play gamers (I can confidently say they are playing Dungeons & Dragons – I recognise the books). It fully embraces the concept of this being a game and interchanges between the game-world and the real-world, which adds much of its humour. The Gamers succeeds in accurately showing what the experience of gaming is like: to the outside viewer just a bunch of nerds sitting around a table, but once you enter that imaginative world you see it is much more, and a ton of fun!
The Movie is very much carried by its humour, the plot itself isn’t very robust being a basic defeat the villain, rescue the Princess cliché but nonetheless serves as a good vehicle. Likewise the characters are very stereotypical but that’s okay because it’s what the movie is making fun of.
Personally my favourite character is the Barbarian, Mark the Red, whose player is late for the game, so although he’s technically ‘with’ the party everyone keeps forgetting him, leaving him standing in the background as though AFK. He turns up eventually, does something awesome, then leaves. Dealing with players who don’t turn up is a real problem in RPGs, so I could relate to it, plus it was hilarious. I also liked Nimble (perhaps because I usually play a Thief) particularly his creative use of the backstab which has led me to be more creative (or perhaps sillier) with it myself. I’ve even tried to copy his… genius, though I have not as yet succeeded!
The acting ranges from good to shaky, the worst being the DM who mumbles so much he is almost impossible to understand (though apparently he had a cold at the time so I say that with sympathy). The filming itself is amateurish – we’re talking extreeeemely low budget here, it was genuinely filmed in a student dorm during finals week and most of the cool costumes were donated – but overall I was impressed because The Gamers overcomes its shortfalls to still turn out to be a good film. Compare it to Dungeons & Dragons the Movie, which had an enormous budget yet still managed to suck, and you can see the value of having a good script.
The Gamers is memorable, eminently quotable and instantly appealing to role-players parodying archetypes and situations which many will recognise. No one has ever made a film like this before, so The Gamers is pioneering and fresh. Although some of humour is very niche nowadays fantasy clichés are well-known even in mainstream culture so there is still plenty for non-gamers to laugh at. Indeed I’d recommend it as an introduction to role-playing for those with an interest in trying it who would like to know more.
Dead Gentleman Productions are currently releasing a Fantasy webseries called JourneyQuest likewise based on role-play gaming. It’s well worth a look.
For those who wish to keep this gem in their collection forever you can buy the Gamers on DVD. It’s a well made product with plenty of extras to make the cost worthwhile.
Fortunately, for those of us that have no money, The Gamers is also on YouTube.