Uber Goober, A film about Gamers

Uber Goober, A film about Gamers

From: Scum Crew Pictures
Reviewed by: Ron McClung

Über  Goober is a new DVD Movie from Scum Crew Pictures.

There has been a recent market opened up for movies about gamers.  In the past year, I have bought two – The Gamers and Über Goober.  I do not know why I bought them.  I guess gamers are one of the few groups that are willing to laugh at themselves.  This review is about Über Goober, a documentary movie about gamers done in 2003. It is done with a sense of humor as well as a sense of down-to-earth honesty that is rarely seen in documentaries. 

From the back cover: Über Goober focuses on the often-misunderstood … world of Gamers.”

If you watch the special features on the DVD, you will learn that this movie is done by a guy who does not claim to be a gamer.  He would be pigeon-holed in as a ‘wanna-be’ – one who could not gather up enough friends to form a gaming group, according to his own words.  From his perspective, however, he would probably be more sympathetic to our microcosm of a world than most.  And he proves it in the movie with his honesty and bluntness.

First and foremost, this movie is a documentary.  Not “documentary” like the trash Michael Moore puts out, but truly a journey into three primary subcultures of gaming, exploring them from various perspectives.  After the short introduction covering the general approach the movie is going to take, the movie carries you through the three worlds of gaming it has chosen to focus on – historical war gaming and miniature gaming, role playing gaming, and LARPing. Of course, as an experienced gaming coordinator for three conventions, I know that this is not all of what gaming is, but these are three more diverse and contrasting groups to explore.  

The historical miniature war gamers are definitely portrayed fairly and honestly.  Most would not believe the amount of work or time that is put into some of the sets they create or the care and passion they have for their hobby.  Throughout the DVD, but more poignantly here, the point is made that all these games are one thing first – a way to socialize and do things with friends.  From mini-painting parties to a good game of desert battling in their garage, these guys are far from loners and outcasts.  They are social beings like anyone else.

The role-playing section focuses strongly on THE original role-playing game, Dungeons & Dragons.  There is mention of other role playing games, like Call of Cthulhu (and the scenes from the Call of Cthulhu room at Origins makes me want to go so badly) as well as some mention of World of Darkness. From the interviews and historical walk-through of D&D in the extras, one sees the slow development of role playing from miniature gaming and beyond.  As a ‘student’ of the diversities of gamers, I was able to see why there are so many types of role players within our corner of gaming even today – from the theater-acting story teller to the tactical-thinking gun-bunny.  The interviews and scenes shot from convention panels include people like Mike Stackpole, Steve Long and Gary Gygax.  The scenes with Mike Stackpole are amazingly informative, and he has to be one of my favorites in the film.

One of the more honest and up-front parts of the movie is the section dealing with religion and the anti-gaming movement within the fanatical fundamentalist Christians.  To be perfectly honest, I consider myself a Christian and have seen both sides of this story.  My parents forbade me to play Dungeons & Dragons in the 80s.  I still ended up playing it eventually and found their notions of Satan worship and magic-spells to be silly.  This movie definitely shows several sides to the religion subject – from the extreme Christian point of view of Satan-worship and book burning to the pagan point-of-view of what they feel is real world magic and sorcery.  Mike Stackpole and Jonathan Albin of GAMA both had the best moments of this section.  Mike drove home the point that this hobby is about the imagination and exploring the mind’s ability to create other worlds.  Mr. Albin said that he has brought people to Christ through the use of role playing games.  There is even a gamer interviewed that says gaming brought her out of a world of drugs, self-abuse, and underage drinking.  Gaming does not make people who they are, it reveals who they are, in my opinion, much like many other sports or other hobbies.  I think this point is strongly made.

The final section actually explores two aspects of LARPing – or Live Action Role Playing.  There is, of course, the classic World of Darkness LARPers most see at every convention wondering around, brooding in their own angst.  The director once again portrays them honestly, showing them as real people like anyone else, but with a passion for LARPing.  The other aspect explored is a group we like to call ‘boffers’.  There is a group in our area called NERO that does this kind of thing.  They roleplay a fantasy battle using padded weapons and armor, simulating spells with colored wads of cloth that they throw.  An interesting exploration into the lesser known and most misunderstood areas of gaming.

From the front cover: “ A film about gamers ”

Throughout the movie, a few primary people are interviewed.  Some are silhouetted as if to say they are ashamed that they are gamer, which might offend some people. However, they explain why they requested the silhouette in their interviews.  Meanwhile, there are others who are not silhouetted and are like any other gamer you would know.

Probably the most painfully honest parts of the movie are the on-the-street interviews with ‘regular people’ or ‘mundanes’ from the streets of Austin, TX.  I get the feeling that the director waited outside of a bar or nightclub and waited for people to leave, after they had a few drinks, to ask them these ‘hard hitting questions.’  They ask questions like “What do you think of people that play Dungeons & Dragons?”  or “What kind of person would you date – one that plays Dungeons & Dragons, a cheerleader, or a basketball player?”  Amazingly enough, many of the guys that were asked the last question said they would date the D&D player because she was more like to “get freaky.”

In the extras, the creators obviously spent a lot of time with Gary Gygax in Lake Geneva.  Most RPG gamers would find both these extras pretty cool.  They would particularly find it interesting that Mr. Gygax himself still has his regular Thursday night gaming groups, running his other title Legendary Adventures (published by GDW back in the 90s).

In conclusion, this film is a brilliantly honest documentary that is well edited and well paced.  I, of course, felt they needed to explore more aspects of gamers than what they did, but I understand time and budget constraints.  I think aspects of gaming conventions alone could make a movie by itself and is perhaps a good idea for a sequel, but he covers many aspects of GenCon and Origins, including some on-the-scene shots of the gamer crowds there.  This is good for the gamer who likes to look at the community he is in and understand some of its aspects he may not have known before and is also a good tool to show newbies or ‘mundanes’ who do not understand.  It is not going to win any Oscars and you probably will not see it on Blockbuster Top 10 Most Rented list, but it is a good little film for gamers and non-gamers alike who want to understand at least a few parts of the great gamer community today.

For more details on Scum Crew Pictures and their new DVD Movie “Über  Goober” check them out at their website http://www.ubergoobermovie.com and at all of your local game stores.

Über  Goober
From: Scum Crew Pictures
Type of Game: DVD Movie
Editted by: David Hobizal
Director of Photography: Don Swaynos
Music by: Pay Murray
Game Components Included: One DVD with the Movie, and special features
Retail Price: $ 15.00 (US)
Play Time: 87 minutes
Website: www.ubergoobermovie.com

Reviewed by: Ron McClung