FILMS ABOUT RPGs


Non-fiction

Darkon. Dir. Andrew Neel and Luke Meyer. Ovie Entertainment and SeeThink Productions, 2006. www.darkonthemovie.com
A feature-length documentary film about the lives of members of the Darkon Wargaming Club in Baltimore - a group of fantasy live-action role-playing (LARP) gamers. It focuses on the juxtaposition of the players' professional lives and their fantasy lives, contrasting how a stay-at-home dad becomes an up-and-coming contender for dominance of the LARP realm. It is mildly negative about the LARP as an outlet.
 
Drakmar: A Vassal's Journey. Dir. Destin Cretton and Lowell Frank. Flagpop, 2007. www.imdb.com/title/tt1020529/
A touching documentary film about a 14-year old boy, and his coming of age within his single-parent home and the fantasy live-action role-playing (LARP) kingdom of Adria. It particularly focuses on his mentorship by his knight in that kingdom and meeting his biological father, and the effect of those on his life. It is generally positive about the role models and belonging he finds within the LARP community.
 
The Dungeon Masters. Dir. Keven McAlester. Saving Throw Productions, Standard Pictures, Antidote Films, 2008. www.imdb.com/title/tt0988086/
A feature-length documentary about three dedicated Dungeons & Dragons DMs -- Richard M., Elizabeth R., and Scott C. It focuses on the contrast of their heroic fantasies with the reality of crumbling middle-class America, rather than on any details of their games. It features most screen time on their home lives, jobs, and ambitions such as novel-writing and making a local cable show.
 
The Dungeons & Dragons Experience. Dir. Jesse Spiro. Spiro Graphics, 2003. www.thedungeonsanddragonsexperience.com
A 60-minute documentary film about D&D play, concentrating on private groups rather than conventions.
 
Life With the Dice Bag. Dir. Mason Booker. 2004. www.maysun.org
A documentary film about role-playing games and those who play them. Shot between 2002-2003, it is constructed almost entirely of interviews with actual game players, clumped together topically to give a rough overview of the hobby.
 
Monster Camp. Dir. Cullen Hoback. 2007. www.imdb.com/title/tt0970948/
A documentary about NERO Seattle, where players are immersed in the fantasy world for 48 consecutive hours -- there are no breaks, not even for sleep. A world built upon fantasy, chivalry, and imagination; a place where you can be anything, dress however, have almost any power, and live as a hero, healer, or villain. It's a place that lets you transform yourself, perhaps becoming the person you wish you really were.
Treasure Trapped. Dir. Alex Taylor. 2014. www.cosmicjoke.co.uk/treasure-trapped/
A UK documentary about LARP, documenting three reporters being introduced to the LARP scene - including boffer LARP in the UK and elsewhere as well as elements of the Nordic LARP scene.

Fiction

Astrópía. Dir. Gunnar B. Guðmundsson. Perf. Ragnhildur Steinunn Jónsdóttir. 2007. www.imdb.com/title/tt0840046/
A comedic film that revolves around Hildur, a national celebrity and socialite who has to look for a job when her boyfriend Jolli is sent to prison. She finds a job at Astrópía, a store that sells role playing books and other geeky products. Her joining an RPG group changes her outlook on life for the better.
 
Cloak & Dagger. Dir. Richard Franklin. Perf. Henry Thomas, Dabney Coleman. Universal Pictures, 1984. www.imdb.com/title/tt0087065/
A thriller about a young boy who is immersed in playing what is portrayed as both a video game and tabletop RPG, and then becomes embroiled in real espionage. He has an imaginary friend which is his character, Jack Flack, played by the same actor as his father (Dabney Coleman).
 
Cruel Doubt Dir. Yves Simoneau. Perf. Blythe Danner, Matt McGrath. NBC Productions and Susan Baerwald Productions, 1992. www.imdb.com/title/tt0104031/
One of two made-for-television fictional movies based on the real-life murder in North Carolina of Lieth Von Stein by his stepson Chris Pritchard, who played RPGs with two friends implicated in the murder plot. This screenplay was based on the true crime book of the same name by Joe McGinniss, which played up the involvement of RPGs in the plot. The film-makers pasted in original illustrations to first-edition AD&D books to connect the game with the murders.
 
El Corazón del Guerrero. Dir. Daniel Monzón. Perf. Fernando Ramallo, Neus Asensi, Joel Joan. CARTEL, 2000. www.imdb.com/title/tt0205843/
A Spanish film about a set of D&D gamers, one of whom starts to hallucinate parts of the game which begin to intrude on reality.
 
Dungeon Majesty. www.dungeonmajesty.com
A tongue-in-cheek amateur film series about a set of female players and their fantasy alter-egos.
 
The Gamers. Dir. Matt Vancil. Dead Gentlemen Productions, 2003. www.deadgentlemen.com/gamers/
A 40-minute independent film which intercuts gamers playing the game with their characters (played by the same actors) having their fantasy adventure. A gentle parody of RPGs and RPG gamers.
 
The Gamers: Dorkness Rising. Dr. Matt Vancil. Dead Gentlemen Productions, 2008. www.imdb.com/title/tt0447166/
A feature-length (105 minute) comedy sequel that alternates between a drama of RPG players and the same actors playing their characters in a fantasy adventure. It centers on the DM, Kevin Lodge, who wants is for his gaming group to finish the adventure he has written - but they're more interested in random mayhem. While the characters quest to rescue a trapped goddess, the real-world drama is in the maturing friendships, Kevin overcoming his writer's block, and his romantic tension with the new player, Joanna.
 
Gamers. Dir. Christopher Folino. Sideshow Production, Monterey Media, 2006. www.imdb.com/title/tt0485909/
A fictional comedy done as a mock documentary about five gamers who are about to break the world record for role-playing over 74,558 hours in a game that they have played for 23 years. All of the gamers are over-the-top male slackers who live with their parents, have dead-end jobs, and are unable to hold a relationship. The film concludes with them abandoning tabletop RPGs to take up the more active game of paint-ball, and find modest success.
 
Gamerz. Dir. Robbie Fraser. Perf. Ross Finbow, Danielle Stewart, and James Young. Pure Magic Films Ltd., 2005. www.imdb.com/title/tt0450269/
An ambitious lower-class freshman at Glasgow University takes over game-mastering at the local fantasy gaming society, and falls in love with a goth girl - but a rival from his old neighborhood joins the game.
 
Honor Thy Mother. Dir. David Greene. Perf. Sharon Gless, William McNamara and Paul Scherrer. MCA Television and Point of View Productions, 1992. www.imdb.com/title/tt0104441/
One of two made-for-television fictional movies based on the real-life murder in North Carolina of Lieth Von Stein by his stepson Chris Pritchard, who played RPGs with two friends implicated in the murder plot. The screenplay was based on the true crime book "Blood Games" by Jerry Bledsoe, which played up the involvement of RPGs in the plot.
 
Knights of Badassdom. Dir. Joe Lynch. Perf. Ryan Kwanten, Steve Zahn, and Peter Dinklage. IndieVest Pictures and North by Northwest Entertainment, 2013. www.imdb.com/title/tt1545660/
A horror film about someone who friends drag him to a live-action fantasy role-playing event after his breakup. However, they accidentally conjure up a demon which wreaks havoc on the event.
 
Mazes and Monsters. Dir. Steven Hilliard Stern. Perf. Tom Hanks, Wendy Crewson, David Wallace. McDermott Productions and Procter & Gamble Productions, 1982. www.imdb.com/title/tt0084314/
A made-for-television movie about a group of college student gamers, including one who descends into insanity as a result of obsession with the game. After extended play and various emotional difficulties, he becomes confused unable to distinguish fantasy and reality. The screenplay was based on the fictional novel of the same name by Rona Jaffe, loosely based on media accounts of the disappearance of James Dallas Egbert III.
 
THAC0. Dir. Bill Stiteler. www.thacothemovie.com
A 50-minute conversation movie about a group of tabletop role-players who are waiting for a player to show up, and discuss the games that have affected them.
 
The Wild Hunt. Dir. Alexandre Franchi. Perf. Mark A. Krupa, Ricky Mabe, Tiio Horn. Animist Films and Mad Monkey Films, 2009. www.imdb.com/title/tt1493886/
A drama/horror movie about a man, Erik Magnusson, who joins a medieval LARP event to pursue his girlfriend Evelyn after they have a falling out. Real-life violence eventually ensues when the leader of a rowdy in-game group is also interested in her. This portrays a significant subgroup of the larpers as being on the edge of dangerous violence, not founded on any real-life incident.
 
Zero Charisma. Dir. Katie Graham and Andrew Matthews. Perf. Sam Eidson, Brock England, and Garrett Graham. Magic Stone Productions and Shark Films, 2013. www.imdb.com/title/tt2294965/
A biting character study about an overweight and overbearing game-master, Scott, who lives with his grandmother, and whose obsessive control over his group is threatened after a successful blogger joins his group. It portrays almost all of the gamers as losers, and the central character as a bullying control freak.

 

More minorly, role-playing games appear in the films E.T. (1982), a href="http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0089222/"> Gotcha! (1985), and A Nightmare on Elm Street 3 (1987), However, though there are significant scenes attached to it, RPGs are not tied to the plot.

 


John H. Kim <jhkim-at-darkshire-dot-net>
Last modified: Sun Nov 27 15:41:06 2011