Last summer I graduated from university and, after three years of living a husk of a real existence, transitioning back into normality was tough. I found myself in this weird limbo between the real world and a distorted version of it, wherein the rapid disintegration of my day-to-day social interactions was particularly noticeable. So I started playing the MMORPG Star Wars: The Old Republic again to compensate for this. Albeit, this was (fortunately) a short-lived affair, but I was immediately immersed in the virtual community that comes with it. Looking back on it now, I definitely romanticised my experiences to help rationalise pissing my time away (anyone who has played such a game understands that half the user base are completely mental and kinda mean), but I was once more obsessed with this particular gaming culture and sought to consume it any way that I could.
Enter The Guild.
Created by and starring Felicia Day as the focal character, The Guild is a web series that follows the lives (both in the virtual and real worlds) of a group of MMORPG players as they make the shift from a fantasy life to something a little more… Conventional. Sort of. (And you thought that introduction was fucking pointless.)
Cyd Sherman (Day), whose gaming pseudonym is Matrix, fears any semblance of interpersonal relationships, and it’s this that primarily distinguishes it as more than just a show about gaming. Teeming with charisma, The Guild utilises the usual connotations of gamers being social outcasts as a mechanism to convey a universal vulnerability within us all. This is particularly poignant in addressing thematic ideas surrounding understanding one’s self and in forging new relationships. However, above all else, it’s ingeniously funny.
Darting back and forth between cringe worthy encounters and laugh out loud hilarity, The Guild finds a nice balance of humour and self-awareness that makes it unlike anything I have watched before.
Although the show’s use of specific gaming terms and conventions can be somewhat confusing to viewers who are perhaps unfamiliar with them, it does not rely on them so much so that it alienates said viewers.
Matrix, whose frequent monologues often steal the show, is certainly the most likeable character, but that’s not to say that the rest of the cast are not enjoyable in their own right. Granted, at times they are infuriating but, at other times, they are simply beautiful. Larger than life though they may be, they feel genuinely real, and isn’t that what all characters should be?
Really, it is more a story about people than gaming, making it something we can all relate to in one way or another.
Give us a date and we’ll watch a film or show around about that point in history. Maybe we’ll talk about it. Throw us back, you slut.
Disclaimer: That introduction was admittedly a little pointless.