Friday, October 30, 2009

Things I"ve Noticed: Documentaries are starting to freak me out

One day to go before Halloween and its time for me to talk about the films that have been freaking me out the most over the years, movies that get under my skin and have me looking over my shoulder in fear, I'm talking about documentaries.

It all started back in 1997 for me when I watched the film Trekkies. I'll happily admit that I grew up watching Star Trek on Saturday mornings, both the original series and the cartoon, I loved the movies, some of the novels, and was very excited to see the Next Generation when it came out. When I was 16 I even wore a Star Trek uniform to high school one day (and no it wasn't for Halloween). Watching this film I realized that I was actually pretty low on the Trekkie scale (maybe a 4 out of 10) but it hit very close to home.

Then just two years ago I came across the film The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters and was sucked right into the lives of Steve Wiebe and his Donkey Kong playing nemeis Billy Mitchell. Donkey Kong was the first arcade game I ever played on a home console (I would have been 6 or 7 and the system was a ColecoVision), I grew up being pretty proud of my status as the kid who played games till the end and in my early twenties I even had a Billy Mitchell-like nememsis who seemed to have it out for me and my modest successes. Although never a Donkey Kong champion myself, I was really able to connect with this film.

The documentary that finally did it for me, that showed a world so close to my own that I got a little scared, was Monster Camp. I did a lot of Live Role Playing Games in my twenties and even went to the trouble of running a few. The process of creating a world, handling dozens of players concerns, creating props, finding locations, and more (for FUN!), can easily drain even the most die-hard of Gamemasters, and I have definitely gone through the process of giving up games forever more than a few times. This film was like watching the latest end of one of my live games, the players, the problems, the late nights, everything. Although the film was made in Washington and I'm up in Canada, the story was definitely the same.

All three of these titles are in my wish-list, as movies they are really great and the devotion (trekkies), emotion (King of Kong) and frustration (Monster camp), shown in the films comes across very well. Part of what I love about documentaries is that they show you how incredibly amazing real life is, but as the ones I've been watching have become more geek-centric, I am getting a little nervous about how much I can relate to them.

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