Films based in video game culture: conclusion

The recent 3 month anniversary of Arcadian Rhythms (15,000 humanoid visits and yet Google still suggest that you meant to type ‘Circadian Rhythms’ when you search for us) made me kick start this article, one that I’ve been meaning to sort out for a long time.

The games-and-gamers-in-films series of articles which helped launch the site began with my review of Scott Pilgrim vs the World after which I trawled through the surprisingly alright Gamer, followed by The Wizard (which mainly gets hits for the picture of Tobey Maguire), Stay Alive and culminating with Hackers (Ed: given the film in question I wonder if “nadir” is a more suitable term than “culminate”).

The one thing that each of these give films has in common, other than being deliberately marketed at gamers, is that they simply don’t understand what gamers are about (barring some of the scenes from Gamer and Stay Alive). We aren’t super heroes, we aren’t (all) depraved freaks, we aren’t ‘special’, we may generally be anti-social but we certainly aren’t the misfits that Hackers presented no matter how much we like Angelina Jolie’s boobs.

We are all of the above and yet none of the above.

There has only been one good and accurate portrayal of video gamers committed to film: Tim Bisley, the character played by Simon Pegg in the TV series Spaced.

Simon Pegg from <em/>Spaced

The less said about 'Run Fatboy Run' the better

I alluded to this briefly in the Scott Pilgrim piece, but now it shall be writ in full…

Tim Bisley is a guy who plays video games, has ex-girlfriend problems and spends time trying to balance his life and job. He’s funny, sociable but still full of foibles. Overall, he’s an interesting and well-rounded character, not just a character who plays video games and happens to have a few interesting qualities.

Bisley is like Eriq Lasalle’s character, Dr. Peter Benton, in early episodes of ER (before everything turned into over the top melodrama). Lasalle’s character is an arrogant, middle-class surgeon who thinks he knows everything that’s important. As the series progresses you begin to realise that he is totally incapable of developing meaningful relationships despite his desire to be a loving father and a talented doctor. Every time he attempts to be anything less than clinical with patients he just fumbles it because that’s not something he’s prepared for, and yet he’s readily capable of coming out with some of the most acerbic lines while exchanging shots with fellow doctors.

He’s also black.

Eriq Lasalle in ER

The colour of his skin is secondary to who he is, in that he is a well-written character regardless of his ethnicity, rather than someone defined by a single superficial aspect of his life.

Some of the best characters in visual media include Sigourney Weaver in the Alien trilogy, most of the cast from The Wire, Thora Birch in Ghost World, Bruce Willis in Die Hard… and that fat guy in Superbad. It doesn’t matter about their gender, colour, stature, creed or beliefs; if you aren’t some massive bigot you will find them interesting as characters.

Tim Bisley is not a good character just because he’s a well-rounded nerd, he’s a good character because he’s a well-rounded character who also happens to be a nerd.

I am not in some way trying to clamour for accurate representations of nerds in films as if we’re some kind of under-represented minority (if sales of video games are to go by then that is certainly not the case). No, I’m just asking that people reverse that Big Bang Theory magnifying glass and focus on the characters instead of just the┬áidiosyncrasies.

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