Saturday, January 8, 2011

Review of The Guild Internet videos

Last time I discussed The Guild, it was the graphic novel. Here's my review of it.

Today I'm going to review the Internet series that helped launch The Guild in the first place. Right off the bat, I want to say that I really, really enjoyed it. Over my Christmas break, I watched all four seasons, usually watching a whole season in one sitting. As with my comments last time in regards to the graphic novel, I think watching The Guild is a great reference source to understanding the mindset of gamers; particularly World of Warcraft gamers; although The Guild series does not mention WoW because of copyright issues (and which is something I wish Blizzard, the company that owns WoW, would work out, because there is a lot of WoW-themed humor that this series misses out on).

Before I continue, it is time for me to mention the following:

******* WARNING! ********

Possible spoiler alerts ahead! If you haven't watched the Internet series, The Guild, and don't want what's in it spoiled for you, STOP reading now! You have been warned!


As I somewhat subtly hinted on Facebook, there were things that I didn't like about it, so let's get those out of the way right now. For one, I think the writer, Felicia Day, tries too hard to establish that all the guildies (of the guild called the Knights of Good) are batshit insane. Not only are the guildies batshit insane, but so is virtually anyone else that appears in the series. It gets tiresome to have that particular point re-emphasized constantly with the regular cast and with anyone new who appears. The only one who seems to be normal - although a bit annoying as only little sisters can be to their big brothers - is the little sister of Bladezz (whom I was told is the actual little sister of the actor. You can see the resemblance!).

Another thing that I didn't like is something that I didn't like of the graphic novel, Kick Ass (my review of it here), which is the depiction of what would be called child abuse in real life made out as entertainment. I didn't like the way Bladezz, the guild's teenage rogue, was harassed and cyber-stalked by the adults of a competing guild. In real life, such adults could be incarcerated for such behavior. Yes, yes, it's just a story, but again, I do not want the trend of child abuse being made into entertainment to continue. It sets a very bad example that child abuse is acceptable in certain circumstances. My least favorite part of this particular storyline is when one of the members of the rival guild, who is a cop, came out of Bladezz' house saying that he just banged his mom. It's times like this when I'll say "bleh" and flash a thumbs-down.

Also in very bad form is the constant depiction of Clara's inattentiveness and even abandonment of her three very young children (all under age 4, I would guess). The point of the humor here is that Clara is so addicted to gaming that she neglects her children; however, that particular point is presented to the point of overkill. Enough already! One time she even left her kids in the car while she had lunch with her guildmates. With so many stories of children being hospitalized or even dying after being left in a car, this simply isn't funny.

Before I get comments that exaggeration is one of the focal points of the humor in The Guild, let me respond by saying "I get that". I get it, and I even appreciate it - and when it's done right, it's done very well. Sometimes, however, the exaggeration is overdone; as if the writer was trying to squeeze out every possible exaggeration out of one scene before she moved on to the next scene with even more overkilled exaggeration.

As harsh as I've sounded so far, at least this is the worst of it. The good parts were very good, and it's what made this series very enjoyable.

The best parts, however, also happened to be the best parts of the graphic novel, and that is the depiction of the guild's online life. Here, the writing is its freshest and crispest, and it hits all the right notes at the right times - and it is also here that the exaggeration works the best. Probably the best way I can put this is that exaggeration when used to depict the guild's "real life" feels forced and even (here's that ugly word!) formulaic, while exaggeration when used to depict their online life works naturally and flows easily and fluidly.

It was also in the scenes of the online life that got the most laughs out of me. In future episodes or graphic novels, I would like to see what Felicia Day can do with a story that takes place wholly in the online world, with only references to their outside life without actually showing it. Originally, I thought that it might be fun to see their avatars as cartoons or computer animations, but that last episode in which the guild was shown in their avatars' costumes and inside their new gloomy and fortress-like guild hall (Season 4, Episode 12), worked perfectly, and this is how I think future representations of their online life should be depicted.

It worked perfectly, because it perfectly represents how we see ourselves in our online lives. That is, we aren't just the avatar of a hunter or warrior or shaman; online role-playing games are fun because we see ourselves in those little worlds. It's also probably a sign of my generation that we connect and socialize via technology; whether through online games, or Facebook, or tweeting, or the other means of which we connect instead of face-to-face.

So does The Guild represent my generation and how we connect and socialize with each other? I suppose that it could be true in a very real way. So what does that say about us and our socializing skills? Are we doomed to be unable to relate to each other except through technology? Is this need for technology to just talk to each other mean that when we do venture out into the real world, we end up as the cartoony exaggerations that is shown in The Guild?

I say that no, we aren't doomed to living cyber lives. Cyber socializing is a tool, but it is still not a substitute for the real thing. And what this cyber socializing does for us is makes the use of technology to gain access to information as natural to us as listening to Beatles albums was to our baby-boomer parents. So while some may see technology as a trap, I say that it does not have to be that way if we don't let it. Instead of being known as the generation that got lost in the cyber forest, we can be known as the generation that mastered it.

Ha! I love that The Guild helped inspire such contemplation, and it is why I enjoyed the series so much. On a scale of 1 to 10 in which one is a bomb and 10 is THE bomb, I give the guild a 9. If Felicia Day takes my suggestion of a whole episode or graphic novel in their cyber world and is able to master it like I think she can, then I might actually issue my first ever 10. Boy, do I look forward to that!

And now in closing, please join me in dancing to what was my favorite video out of this whole series, a music video called Game On! Oh man, I loved this so much that I played it several times with the sound turned up, and danced along! It was so clever and catchy! As Zaboo would say, "Awesome'd!"

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