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By Phil Hall | December 15, 2005

“EverQuest Players LFG” is the latest work by Nathan Bramble, the talented young Pennsylvania-based filmmaker who has created an intriguing series of short documentaries celebrating seemingly normal people who harbor slightly off-beat obsessions. This time around, Bramble aimed his camera at the excessive devotees of EverQuest, an online multiplayer game which takes the role-playing faux-medieval fantasies of the old Dungeons & Dragons board game into the 3-D digital realm of cyberspace.
To be frank, I’ve never heard of EverQuest prior to viewing this film and I can’t say that I am sufficiently intrigued by what I’ve seen here to seek out the game. As presented in this film, EverQuest looks like a digital arcade game on steroids: plenty of bulked up heroes running about dark passages in dangerous castles, chopping and socking anyone or anything that gets in their way. Players have the ability to give personalities to the various on-screen characters, but strangely they all seem like variations of a single theme: either the hero is a big galoot with brown hair parted down the center, or he is a big galoot with blonde hair tousled like a surfer.
However, there are more than enough people hooked by EverQuest to fill a hotel…literally, a Baltimore-area Marriott which is home to Fan Faire, an annual EverQuest gathering where the more sartorially-minded join the crowds dressed in the extravagant costumes of their favorite EverQuest characters. Watching these people all dolled up in these crazy outfits (which seem to mix Arthurian splendor with contemporary S&M fetish), you can’t help but recall the classic “Saturday Night Live” skit when William Shatner bellowed at the members of a “Star Trek” convention: “What’s wrong with you people?”
“EverQuest Players LFG” interviews a trio of die-hard players who invest substantial periods of time into online gamesmanship. The guilty pleasure of EverQuest has narcotic appeal: one interviewee sheepishly acknowledges providing 30 hours of his weekly schedule (mostly nights and weekends) to EverQuest, while another somewhat glumly notes that the quantity of his playtime has been significantly reduced with the arrival of a girlfriend (it would seem the fair lady does not share his mania for EverQuest). The players describe the game as being a means to alleviate stress, though the stress created by spending too much time with the game is not tapped into here.
At 16 minutes running time, “EverQuest Players LFG” is too brief to make any significant sociological commentary of the impact which this game has made on the Net world as a whole; nor do we even get to see a full game played to its entirety. Still, it is an intriguing glance over the shoulder of those who seem to be spending way too much time in front of the computer monitor. Fans of the game should appreciate “EverQuest Players LFG” for its polite tip-toe into their sub-subculture. For those on the outside looking into this digital sphere, it is equivalent to discovering a long-forgotten container in the back of the refrigerator and being unable to identify what it holds and how it got there in the first place.

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