Beloved indie film series The Gamers is getting a new series which will culminate in a new film. It begins where the first one left off, following a Kickstarter happening throughout July. Before we go into the details of the new series, lets explore the history of The Gamers. So far there are three major films, with several spin-offs, all created by Dead Gentlemen Productions and Zombie Orpheus Entertainment. Most of the series is available for free on Youtube, while DVDs and such are available on their website. Without further ado, let’s see where this legacy began by going back in time to a part of my life I sometimes would rather forget, high school.
Back in my high school days there was one film that became an integral part of my life style. One that changed my style of humor and defined how I ran my Dungeons & Dragons games. In fact, it may be one of the things that brought me to the role-playing table to begin with, that and an appreciation for history as I have always enjoyed the Final Fantasy series, which was originally an adaptation of D&D. It was a series I would go on to make a requirement before joining my gaming table. That film series was, of course, The Gamers.
I remember the first time I watched The Gamers, down to the smallest of detail. It was a hot summer night, I had just gotten off the phone with a friend after spending some time searching for Dungeons & Dragons related media on Youtube. After a few Wizards of the Coast promoted videos, I kept running into the same one on the suggested list, The Gamers Part 1 of 5. I was in my bed on a terrible laptop in my home where we had just gotten wifi. Note, that I lived in an incredibly rural area, so I had to wait for each segment to buffer prior to watching. So, I tucked into bed, put in my earbuds, and started a movie that would go on to change my life.
The quality wasn’t the best, it was an indie film after all, but the laughs just wouldn’t stop. I went on to finish the movie, instantly charmed by its lower budget and D&D oriented humor. It felt like I was watching someone else’s game, but acted out in a movie. That’s not even the half of it though, immediately after watching The Gamers, I found the sequel, Dorkness Rising.
Dorkness Rising, is by far my favorite movie. Not even joking in the slightest. I have shared this film with more friends than I can count. Between the first and the second films the quality drastically increased, extending the run time by an hour or more. This created a more coherent plot that felt more like an adventure, coupled with more character development at the player side of things. We also get to see the struggle of writer desperately wanting to create the next big adventure, using his role-playing group as a place to experiment with various characters and ideas, but still coming up blank when sitting down to write. One player, Cass who plays a Monk who is NOT an elf, refuses to be defeated by a game, forcing his group to play the same campaign over and over, which creates most of the player conflict.
On the flipside, the characters living in the fantasy world have their own challenges, taking on the likes of Goblins, Demons, and Zombie Ninjas (Zinjas? Nombies? Still up for debate. . . ) all while trying to save a dying realm who have lost their Goddess of Light. This side of the narrative is where the adventuring takes place, as the heroes travel through villages, mountains, and dungeons. The players make decisions, dice roll, and an outcome happens. What makes the narrative so special is its use of common RPG tropes, creating some of the funniest moments for people into gaming culture. Even those I shared the movie with who weren’t gamers found a lot to love about Dorkness Rising, many of them asking how to play D&D shortly afterwards.
Dorkness Rising also has some minor connections to the first film, as their next challenge at the end of the film hints towards the main antagonist of the first. Not only that, but the Berserker of the first film makes a cameo in Dorkness Rising, albeit only in one scene. Several years later, in my college years, a third movie launched subtitled Hands of Fate.
Hands of Fate focused on the characters of Dorkness Rising, but instead of the tabletop game it changed over to the Trading Card Game side of gaming culture. Lucky for me, around when this movie came out I was going to my local comic shop to play Magic: The Gathering. Clearly based off of Magic: The Gathering, the story of Hands of Fate follows Cass as he tries to win a tournament and score a date with a new comer Natalie, an ace at the card game. This film once again ups the quality with better visuals, higher quality cameras, and sharper sound. Not only that, but it makes some excellent commentary on the convention experience and what it means to be a passionate gamer, and sometimes an overly passionate gamer. Chibi-Chan, I’m looking at you.
The film opens with the old team finally going against The Shadow, only to be interrupted by various means. This need to beat The Shadow sets in the background of the film, as it ends with the team coming together to finally put the swashbuckler to rest. This scene also leads into the events of the new series, connecting the characters of Dorkness Rising with the ones from the original Gamers. This new series hopes to see funding on Kickstarter, which will then lead into Gamers 4.
Dead Gentlemen are also releasing smaller snippets that show where these characters have been since the ending of the first Gamers. Its best to watch the series from beginning to end, but these videos will set the stage for the new series. Basically, the old character sheets from that first campaign have been found by a new group, while the characters themselves wound up in the real world through a portal. In the new series, the new players will have to take on the minions of The Shadow, while trying to uncover exactly what’s bringing characters into the real world. Will the players and characters find a way to return to their respective homes? We shall see.
As far as the acting goes, expect many of the same faces from previous projects such as Nathan Rice (Newmoon), Justin McGregor (Magellan), Phil M. Price (Nimble), and Matt Shimkus (Rogar), and adds a new group of players: Anna Clausen (Megan), Jay Irwin (Zach), and Maggie FergusonWagstaffe (Charlie). Two more characters remain to be cast, while a special guest appearance of Russell Hodgkinson (ZNation) as The Professor will also be featured.
Don Early, Executive Producer, had this to say in the press release. “We are excited and inspired to return to the world of tabletop roleplaying games in the same vein that garnered our audience in the first place. I’ve always wanted to know what happened to those characters stuck in our world at the end of the first Gamers movie. Now we get to find out.”
Writer and showrunner of The Gamers: Episode 1 – The Shadow Menace, Ben Dobyns added, ““This is a chance to create some really great comedy, highlighting some classic gaming experiences. Not only that, but we begin to tie all of The Gamers movies together towards an epic finale, joining old cast and new.”
Those working on the film made sure to mention that the new series is plenty enjoyable on its own, without watching any of the previous content. However, there is a plethora of great film to be had with The Gamers and I cannot recommend the entire chronicle enough; every film and mini series is worth it. For information on how to support the project, check out the Kickstarter page. The Kickstarter ends Friday, July 29th, 2016, so act fast to get a hold of those backer rewards.