I never realized there was a hole in my media-loving life where a webseries concerning the times and trials of a group of socially-stunted (or just twisted) guildies getting into all sorts of shenanigans should be – not until Cyd Sherman, more commonly known as Codex the party’s healer, sat down in front of me and launched into her video diary:
“So, it’s, uh, Friday night and still jobless, yay. Haven’t left the house in a week. My therapist, uh, broke up with me. Oh yeah, there’s a – there’s a gnome warlock in my living room, sleeping on my couch.”
So Season 1 of The Guild opens, drawing us into the interpersonal drama of The Knights of Good. A guild of six not-quite-friends, their in-game connections drive them to meet in real life: social awkwardness ensues, the guild drama escalates, and they ultimately come together to take down a real-world boss. All with blue roses, snappy dialogue, high-level moms, and shockingly inept parenting.
For some wholly mysterious reason, I didn’t discover The Guild until March 2010. Don’t look at me like that; I honestly don’t know what rock I was under either. The first season of the webseries was one of the first programs I watched on Netflix Instant, and I became an avid fan of The Guild within five minutes.
Five minutes was all it took for me to recognize pieces of myself, my friends, my family, and the gamer culture I’ve moved through all of my adult life. Codex is my neurotic tendencies cranked up to 11; I lived with a Vork-wannabe; I’ve known Zaboos beyond counting. My personal guildies may have been my brothers and a couple of best friends (most of whom I lived with), but I’ve been privy to a stupid number of guild dramas. Like many of my friends, I’ve let entire days vanish because I was too busy following a quest line. I’ve participated in those conversations where it was much easier to talk about the Game and what loot dropped than to make awkward social conversation.
The Guild is worth so much more than that self-recognition, though, and evokes much more than quote-fodder for that special brand of geek-conversation (you know, the sort that is almost entirely made up of reenacted dialogue from favorite media). The Guild transcends niche humor into satire.
With this webseries, Felicia Day and company have managed to deconstruct the stereotypical idea of the dedicated gamer. This series isn’t about a host of neckbearded manchildren living in their parents’ basements: it shows that gaming can be at the heart of the lives of adept college students, directionless 20-somethings, cheapskate adults, socially stunted males attempting to escape their mothers, and stay-at-home moms. There is no stereotypical gamer, only people looking for entertainment, escape, and connection.
While simultaneously undermining the assumed identity of hardcore gamers, The Guild amps up the social failures of people who spend all their time immersed in MMORPGs and does so in wildly disturbing and entertaining ways. The satire here is for us, the gamers, those saturated in the culture. Through a series of largely unlikeable individuals with self-sabotaging character traits, The Guild illuminates that connection – reasonable, rational, compassionate connection – should be integral to the gaming life and not a neglected side-component. This point is made with humor and a deft touch, and the series doesn’t feel as if it has an agenda. The Guild simply revels in hyperbole and enables us to examine our behavior with a wince and a giggle.
It’s a brilliant comedic webseries, well worth the community support it has received over the years. Several of the episodes in the first season were fully funded by fans, which The Guild shows appreciation for in the credits after Episode 10, “Boss Fight,” and it won the YouTube Video Award for Best Series in 2007.
You can watch The Guild via their website (which is fed by MSN and Bing), YouTube, Hulu, X-Box Live, and Netflix Instant. It’s also available on DVD via Netflix, and for purchase at Amazon.com. Watch it, dig it, and – if you’re like me – realize you probably live it.