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By Daniel Wible | February 9, 2005

On any given day you might find them battling hordes of horrible ogres or casting spells to ward off evil hobgoblins or even bedding down beautiful princesses from far off lands. Who are these gods among men, these conquerors of worlds and masters of their domain? They are the Role Playing Gamers, or Uber Goobers, and yes, they are really, really big geeks. As a self-professed movie geek and recovering comic book nerd, I have little problem calling them out on this. I mean, there are geeks and then there are Geeks, and believe me, these guys (and few girls) are even more hopeless than Trekkies. Lets’ face it, in the hierarchy of geekdom, the Role Playing Gamers have always held a particularly dubious position. Scorned even amongst other geeks, they’ve traditionally been painted just a shade above porno fiends and mass murderers by religious groups and media folk alike. But with Steve Metze’s highly entertaining “Uber Goober”, this oft-maligned group may finally have their vindication. It turns out that your average Gamer is really just human after all. Yes, even the ones who dress up like wizards and warriors on Sunday afternoon.

To the uninitiated, a “Gamer”, as defined in “Uber Goober”, is not of the X-Box or PS2 or PC variety, but rather of the in-person-dice-rolling-and-sometimes-dress-up-in-costume kind. As I understand it, there are basically three types of Uber Goober: miniatures gamers, role-players, and LARPers (Live Action Role Players). Each type has its own unique charms. The miniatures camp gets off on playing God over tiny battles both historic and decidedly make believe. The role-players take things to another level completely by pretending to be knights or witches or vampires, sometimes even dressing the part. The LARPers however, are in a class all by themselves. They get off on actually living out their fantasies, like for real, with swords and chain-mail and the whole works. Yes, geeks all of them, but harmless, mostly.

Perhaps more aptly titled “I, Geek”, “Uber Goober” is a well-executed and mostly affectionate look at this strange world. It’s clear that Metze has an affinity for his subjects and might even be a closet gamer himself. His mission here, it seems, is to reveal the gamers for what they really are: intelligent, passionate people, if only a bit odd, who find creative release and even lasting friendships in their misunderstood hobby/lifestyle. Aside from some harmless jabs at gaming culture (via clips from The Simpsons and Saturday Night Live, as well as some hilarious man-on-the-street interviews), the filmmaker treats his eccentric subjects with the respect they’ve so longed for and deserve. Gamers should delight in all the positive attention, especially if it gets any of them laid, while curious on-lookers may just find themselves being seduced by the “dark” side. But really, Metze does little more than simply let the geeks speak for themselves, in a series interviews with both gamers and game designers, including the Overlord of Gaming himself, E. Gary Gygax, creator of Dungeons and Dragons.

“Uber Goober” is far from a puff piece however, as Metze doesn’t shy away from the “darker” side of the gaming world. Whether it’s the embarrassment felt by some avid gamers wishing to remain anonymous or the persecution by religious idiots who fear spiritual corruption or even the suspect link between gaming and the Columbine massacre, “Uber Goober” thoughtfully explores how this innocently geeky hobby could be considered so threatening an enterprise to some. Granted, I’m the furthest thing from a Bush-sucking evangelical, but I’d say “Uber Goober” puts all that bunk to rest, once and for all. I say: Let the rockers rock, the gays be gay, and the Gamers, well, live long and prosper, or whatever it is you guys say.

To those who would denounce Gamers as evil Satanic bastards: Get an f’ing life.

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