They work in our offices. They shop in our stores. They murmur to each other in a pidgin dialect only the depraved would understand. Some of them even look like us. Every day they lock themselves into electronic insane asylums across the country. They are players of what some call Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games.
MMORPGs have been addressed in sitcoms before, most famously in South Park‘s “Make Love, Not Warcraft” episode. The concept is generally deemed too nerdy to become a regular factor in such shows, so the characters forget their addictions in time for next week’s installment. As I know, and as the producers of The Guild know, it’s not just a game, it’s a lifestyle. The Guild follows the misadventures of six online adventurers and their terrifying real-life encounters with each other. Dr. Horrible‘s Felicia Day is cast as Codex, a human healer who when not unemployed in real life has her existence turned upside down by Zaboo (Sandeep Parikh) who shows up at her apartment to proclaim his love after misinterpreting a few winky-smiley faces. Vork the fighter (Jeff Lewis) is the long-suffering guild leader who tracks his mustard supply down to the millimetre. Clara the mage (Robin Thorsen) uses the game to take the pressure off of (not) raising her three kids. Rounding out the cast is Bladezz the thief (Vincent Caso) and TinkerBalla the ranger (Amy Okuda), who both consider Machiavellian treachery a personal hobby.
This show could have been like the torrent of gaming comics on the market that make fun of video game addiction. Instead all of the characters play the game for different reasons. Clara tries to relieve boredom, Bladezz is looking for rules he can easily break, and Codex seems to be looking for order in a life that doesn’t seem to have any. The best moments of the show come when the characters try to apply the logic and consistency of the game world with the real world and the results are often hilariously tragic. The production also has a polish and quality that many web shows just don’t have. The Guild is extremely deserving of the popularity it now holds. The only gripe I have with it is that the secondary characters don’t seem to have as intense an inner life as the main characters, and seem to just drive the plot rather than have motivations of their own. The Season 2 DVD just came out on May 19th, and it looks like they’ve secured funding for a third season through Microsoft. This is great news for web shows in general, so I look forward to the new season, which is scheduled to start shooting in June.