Mr. T, Bill Shatner, Van Damme, and Verne Troyer are doing a good job of soliciting you to create ass kickin’ avatars. WeGame is providing you with the tools and forum to showcase your character’s in-game escapades. Internet TV shows are helping you out with tips on how beat the bad guys. But who’s turning the lens on the lives of actual gamers?
Since July of 2007, a sitdotcom known as The Guild has sought to find what happens when hardcore online gamers stop gazing into their laptops and cross into the messy territory of real life.
The series lead actress/writer Felicia Day, formerly of Joss Whedon’s Buffy The Vampire Slayer, is an online gamer herself and something of a sun-deprived, alabaster-skinned nerd fantasy. Her show is presumably based on the massively popular World of Warcraft, but features no gameplay footage, no machinma, and no direct references to the game. Just real world contact.
It began life as a potential TV project, but was dismissed as “too niche” by network executives. However, the first webisode racked up more than a million views on YouTube and since episode two, The Guild‘s fans have become its de facto producers, contributing money via PayPal to keep the production alive. Felicia and LKG Productions attribute this success to the largely ignored community of online role-playing gamers, 20 million strong around the world, eager to see themselves represented OOC and on-screen.
Episode One begins with Felicia as her online handle Codex, addressing the audience from the webcam perch at her bedroom desk. Codex is a pretty twenty-something with a crippling addiction to her online fantasy world and a fear of facing her own life, where she is unemployed and has been dumped by her therapist. We are introduced to other members of The Guild, a disparate group of five fellow gamers, who range from a bubbly mother to a stoned slacker and all types between.
Day’s guild is concerned with the 38-hour disappearance of Zaboo, the Warlock. The mystery is solved when Zaboo, a diminutive Indian boy, arrives on Codex’s doorstep, bearing flowers, having misinterpreted their friendly online chats as meaning something more.
As the drama unfolds over the next few episodes, Codex eventually requests that the guild meet in person. (Insert comically menacing noise here.) Episode Four brings them together for their first face-to-face meet at the pirate-themed restaurant Cheesybeards. Much awkwardness ensues.
The dialogue is sharp, even if it tries a bit too hard at times. The actors are of a professional stripe and have enough comedic chops to bring their characters to life. The style is similar to other sitdotcoms, like God, Inc. (Tilzy.TV page) in that it mimics a quasi-documentary approach, but the interviews have been replaced with intermittent webcam confessionals. Those unfamiliar with gamer lingo with not have a hard time following the series as the emphasis is more on character than coding.
Dig The Guild and want more? New episodes are supposedly being prepped, but if you want it sooner than later, some donations would assuredly grease those production gears.