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Initial Review of The Gamers: The Shadow Menace

by Hawke Robinson published Nov 16, 2017 08:35 AM, last modified Nov 16, 2017 09:11 AM
This is an initial review, with just my first impressions upon the first viewing of the brand new offering in the original The Gamers Series: The Shadow Menace. I attempt to avoid any overt spoilers by keeping this review more abstract rather than specific.

Overall, lots of chuckles, a number of guffaws, and for the approximate 50 minutes of show time, about 30-40 minutes of very enjoyable show.

The production quality is excellent, though there were some special effects sections that were a little rough.

It was absolutely wonderful to see the cast of players be so diverse and break away from many of the inculcated stereotypes of what a role-playing gamer looks like. That being said, that should have been allowed to speak for itself, which would be a much more powerful message, but unfortunately the writers apparently decided it was necessary to hammer home the point, rather than let viewers draw their own conclusions (and better yet just accept it as being self-evident (a Schopenhauer reference to the 3 stages of truth).

It was great to see the old cast from the original Gamers show that started it all, as well as a great new dynamic cast added.

It followed the typical formula of a dysfunctional group and struggling Game Master, with some progression as the group tries to work through the typical Tuckman group dynamics phases (forming, storming, norming, performing). While the group was somewhat dysfunctional, it was nice to see the players be higher functioning and not the usual stereotype of "the dysfunctional gamer", which almost all gamer depictions outside of the Gamers franchises typically do.

Acting on both sides, the players and the characters, was strong and enjoyable.

The only 3, but significantly distracting, items, that interrupted the flow and fun of the show were:

1. This felt much more local/regional to the Seattle/Portland/Coastal-Northwest than any other previous ZOE or DG show.

2. A much more overt emphasis on sex, sexual acts, etc. Ironically, considering the age of the participants, these parts of the show felt more like pre-teen/young-teen juvenile players than any of the other films. And while this was not absent in the other films, they were more cleverly implemented.

3. Repeated emphasis on identity politics issues, which did not further the story/plot, and instead felt more like interjected tangents. This either should have been more cleanly integrated into the story/character development, or else dropped altogether rather than so awkwardly inserted.

I think much of item #1 could be reduced by addressing some of items #2 & #3.

#2 & #3 felt shoe-horned into the show, rather than furthering either character development or the storyline. This is where the writing felt the weakest. If it had been more smoothly integrated, or dropped, would have been much more consistent experience of the show.

I think editing out the portions focusing so much on items #2 & #3 would make a much better flowing and more continuously humorous show.

I believe it would also notably increase the overall maturity level of the show.

This would also then greatly increase the entertainment appeal to a much wider audience, while the current version is much more narrowly focused on an (ironically) less inclusive range of demographics.

If I have time, I am tempted to make an edited version for myself to test my hypothesis on the above.

Overall, an entertaining, fun film, that will resonate for tabletop role-playing gamers much more than Gamers Hands of Fate (which focused mostly on CCG/TCG).

I will gladly be integrating clips from this into our presentations on RPGs to facilities, professional conferences.

I am greatly looking forward to the next installments in the series.

If you haven't already, go support them at:

http://deadgentlemen.com and http://zombieorpheus.com

Happy Gaming!

-Hawke

P.S. I did my best to avoid this having any specific spoilers. Future reviews will be more detailed with spoilers, but I will not make public until more people have access, right now just supporters have early access.

P.P.S. Full Disclosure, I am listed as both Executive Producer (William Hawkes-Robinson) and Kickstarter Supporter (Hawke Robinson & The RPG Research Project) in the credits, through my ongoing support over the years via their Patreon & Kickstarter pages.

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