The DOXA Documentary Film Festival: 10 Days 75 Films

Scott Wood

CJSF volunteer, Scott Wood, attends and reviews the DOXA documentary film festival...

The Dungeon Masters

Director: Keven McAlester, USA, 2008, 93 minutes

Tuesday May 26 | 9:00PM | Vancity Theatre

The Dungeon Masters follows three people who are deeply immersed in Dungeons & Dragons, LARPing (not sure what it stands for but basically acting out D&D scenarios in costume rather than with dice) and Science Fiction Fantasy Conventions. Scott has written a nearly 600 page novel and wants to host his own cable access show. Elizabeth routinely dresses like a dark elf (in full black body paint and white wig) and bounces from job to job and boyfriend to boyfriend. Richard is a formidable Dungeon Master, but is recovering from the fallout after all his gamers quit when he killed them off in a tough campaign. 

In the Q&A with the director after the film, many proud gamers were upset that the game did not reflect "their lifestyle" (and these attractive filmgoers looked like they could easily be in line at the Yaletown Starbucks on their way to a nice dot com job). They felt that the three protagonists were "stereotypical" gamers (read: socially awkward, under-employed losers.)

I am not a gamer, but I had to disagree. If I was a doc maker doing a film on superbowl fans, I would be more likely to pick the loud fat guy with the team's logo painted on his chest than the mild-mannered accountant who also enjoys the games. And it also made me think that D&Ding is still struggling for a legitimacy in a way that sports never will. 

Still, I found the protagonists interesting and worth following, warts and all. Sure, Scott (no relation [wink]) looks exactly like comic book guy from the Simpsons. And although he was underemployed, he was married to a long-suffering wife with a kid--which gave many layers to his Peter Pan complex. The most interesting was Richard, who loved D&D, yes--but he is not stereotypical at all. He is ex-army, on his second wife, a proud nudist and, at the end of the film, was studying to convert to Judaism.  

The most interesting aspect of this film is how the director established his settings. Toppled neon store signs, dilapidated apartment buildings, withering cement strip malls--all of these people are immersing themselves in a heroic fantasy life to escape their collapsing surroundings in post economic-boom America. 

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By Scott Wood

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  • Posted on: 11 March 2016
  • By: Administrator