Daily Illuminator

July 22, 2004: Uber Goober

I just got back from the Alamo Drafthouse, an institution which used to be unique to Austin but is now spreading . . . which is good. The basic formula is "Show quirky films and serve people dinner while they watch." Great formula.

I was there to give a brief introductory talk to Steve Metze's new film about gamers, Uber Goober. Since I had not seen the film, my talk consisted of (a) determining that the audience was mostly gamers or, at the very least, people who game, and (b) pointing out that we had emerged from our days of persecution, and now ruled the world, but we were STILL GEEKS. Then I (c) sat down so they could watch the film.

Now here's the funny part. This film was made in Austin. Steve M. and his crew drove over large parts of the civilized world, not to mention Lake Geneva, to interview various gaming personalities. But he never interviewed me; I'm not in the film. He asked me, during the Q&A session afterwards, if I remembered why. All I could recall was some vagueness about scheduling. He said that yes, that was one way to describe it. And then he reminded me and I remembered exactly.

When he first contacted me about the film, the description didn't sound exciting. It sounded deadly dull. And I told him so. Because I don't have time to get involved with all the cool stuff that comes by me, let alone fool with the boring stuff, and this didn't sound like a good use of HIS time, let alone mine. And I was up front with him about that.

So apparently he printed out that letter and kept it around, just to give him something to be mad about when his energy was flagging . . .

So he finished the film. And I got to see it, and I laughed in most of the right places, and on the whole:

  • I was wrong. This isn't boring. I thought it was pretty slow in places, but then I have been one of the Geek Tribe for a looooong time; I've been to more conventions than I can count; I could have recited a lot of the interviews in that film a half-beat ahead of the person who was talking, complete with the "uhhhhh"s and the nervous giggles. Okay, yeah, I'm old and grumpy; sue me. But . . .
  • I'm GLAD that I was wrong, and I'm glad that Steve made this film, and if my original putdown helped in some twisted way, well, GOOD.
This is kind of a cute film, and while it shows us with all our warts (and our nervous giggles), it's basically friendly. If you're a gamer, it won't teach you a thing you don't know, but you may get a nice sense of self-affirmation out of it, especially the last five minutes. But if you have relatives who think gaming is weird, threatening, Satanic, or whatever, they MIGHT get something out of this film. At least, if they're open-minded. The filmed interviews with the "D&D is Satanic" crowd are hilarious on first viewing, and very creepy on reflection. Do people really think that way? Yes, Virginia, they do, and they think that if you don't think that way you're a threat.

Whoa. Help me down from this soapbox. Point of this rather long entry: I'm glad this film got made and I'm glad I got to see it. Hit the Uber Goober site if you want to know more. Yes, he sells the DVDs online.
-- Steve Jackson

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