Sunday, September 26, 2010

Ryan Watches A Motion Picture #60: The Dungeon Masters (2008)

Hat is on, prepare to bleed.

Geek-sense...tingling! The independent media has been giving increasing attention to geekdom over the years, and subcultures of nerdery are beginning to take centre stage as the geeks that were swept up by the sword and sorcery of the 80s grow older and infiltrate the media engine. Since hearing about The Dungeon Masters I'd been eager to see how it had been handled. It's a documentary that follows the lives of three Dungeons and Dragons players, or, more specifically and clearly implied by the title, DUNGEON MASTERS. I hope you're picturing hulking monstrosities in black armour cracking whips over lava pits, because you're not going to be seeing that at all.

You will instead be seeing three social misfits trying to create a social dynamic with rules they can understand. For anyone not in the know about this type of nerdery, the dungeon master, or DM, is the guy or gal that leads the group of Dungeons and Dragons players. They make up the stories, narrate for the characters and creatures the players encounter, and oversee the mechanics of the game.

The three DMs are:

1. A guy going through the emotional perils of writing a fantasy novel and dealing with an agent.

2. A woman dressed as a dark elf traumatised by hurricane Katrina and searching for love.

3. An army-reservist alienating his group of players with his extremely controlling and adversarial DMing.

These three DM to create control and comfort in their lives when the outside world is unsympathetic, or they can't quite match dance steps with the rest of life. As a DnD player it was interesting to find points of connection with the DMs and players; the central drives to why we play, or how we got into the fantasy genre in the first place, are mostly identical. The DMs talk about the kinds of characters they find themselves playing and you can draw some conclusions as to why they favour them.

So: A cool look into the private lives of dungeon masters and DnD players. A little bit more clear insight would have been nice, but you can draw your own conclusions.

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