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iW’s Snag Pick of the Weekend: “Gamers”

iW's Snag Pick of the Weekend: "Gamers"

“Gamers” is a documentary film that follows filmmaker Ben Gonyo into the world of MMO style video games and the “World of Warcraft.” Having not played video games for nearly ten years, a lot of things have changed since Ben last picked up a controller. Ben dives headfirst into a whole new genre of video games called MMORPG’s, which he describes as, “living in a movie.” In this humorous yet informative documentary, viewers will learn what these games are, where they came from, how they’re made and what it takes to conquer a virtual world. [Synopsis courtesy of SnagFilms]

Responses courtesy of “Gamers” director Ben Gonyo.

An interest in gaming…

I always liked video games as a kid. When I played gaming was just the player and the television. It was man vs. machine. Since I stopped playing however it’s become man vs. man vs. machine.

The player is not only facing the computer but also other real players, which they can interact with. I found that interesting. I chose MMO games (like “World of Warcraft”) because they are the most dedicated type of players. It is an obsession with many of these players. This really interested me. I wanted to dive into this world and discover the appeal.

Keeping it fun…

When I started shooting it I had a full time corporate job and worked on “Gamers” after hours. I knew I wanted to make a long form documentary and it needed to be something that I could have fun with. Gaming offered lots of great characters, conventions and lots of fun. My feeling about the creative process is that it should be fun. Sure at times it’s a struggle but if I’m not having fun doing it then I don’t know how long I’d continue. My favorite part in particular was filming the conventions.

An uphill battle…

Money and inexperience but these are both things I knew I was up against. Nobody gave me the money to start, I just started it. I worked all day and then worked on this at night. I didn’t really know what I was doing but I did it anyway. I’ve found that the best way to learn.

A guilty pleasure…

What surprised me most about MMO players is that this is their guilty pleasure. I would say that 90% of the players I interviewed admitted they played in excess. That’s a high number I know but that’s what I saw. Many of them joked about it but admitted that it was an indulgence. Some viewed it as negative and some just as a part of their life.

When I started the film I thought it would just be a fun jaunt into this world but there are some unfortunate stories of people getting lost in these digital worlds. People lose friends and families for periods of time. Many players are in denial. Of all the criticism of the film, a lot of it comes from players saying, “He’s highlighting the bad stuff.”

There’s a lot of fun moments but they focus on these points because they don’t want to face them. Part of it is a reflection of their own existence and that bothers people.

In the works…

Since finishing “Gamers” I quite my dull corporate job and started my own boutique production company called Fish & Crown Creative. I’m doing as much work as possible. I did a kids safety video, tons of shorts, commercials and industrials. I’m most excited about my next feature documentary “The New Blood,” which is almost complete.

It’s about a trio of guys that make monster movies in their basement and air them on public access in hopes of breaking into Hollywood. They are hilarious. They are so determined and good-natured it’s unbelievable. I spent two years on the project and had a blast the entire time.

[Disclosure: SnagFilms is the parent company of indieWIRE]

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