If you’re reading this, chances are really good that you love to play video games. And a large percentage of you are also hooked on at least one MMO. Gamers, a new documentary directed by indie filmmaker Ben Gonyo, is not for you, but it is about you. It’s not for you because it’s essentially a primer for the uninitiated, a light-hearted, humorous and surprisingly balanced look at MMOs and the people who play them.
Gonyo takes to the road, visiting fan conventions and talking to gamers, psychiatrists, and even a few detractors, from coast to coast. He spends a few minutes with pro baseball player (and avid gamer) Curt Schilling, who talks about 38 Studios, his game-development company. He chats with novelist R.A. Salvatore about his involvement in the gaming industry. He does some quick interviews with a number of game developers, including Blizzard’s Jeff Kaplan. And he takes his camera into two of the major US fan conventions, Gen Con in Indianapolis and BlizzCon in Anaheim. But his focus is on MMO players, particularly those playing Blizzard’s 800-pound gorilla, World of Warcraft. Several other games are mentioned, including Everquest, Age of Conan and Lord of the Rings Online, but WoW gets the most face time. In fact, throughout the 60-minute documentary, Gonyo pauses several times to chart the progress of Jarvey, his gnome warrior.
Gamers features comments from a nice cross-section of MMO players, from the ones whose lives have been totally hijacked by the games, to those who have found the strength to resist their siren call and have quit playing (multiple times, in the case of one poor soul). Several behavioral scientists offer their clinical opinions. One woman expresses concern for a friend whose addiction to WoW has separated them. And one particularly opinionated fellow goes on at length about the 10 million subscribers whose brains have been “sucked out of their heads” by Warcraft. But it’s all put together with good humor, it’s non-judgmental, and it’s mostly fast-paced, although it does occasionally get bogged down with cosplayers and repetitive images and comments. If you’ve got a friend or a family member who doesn’t understand why you lock yourself in your basement with Cheetos and Gatorade for days at a time playing MMOs, show them Gamers. They’ll still worry about you, but maybe not as much as before.