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Features > The Escapist Video Movie Review Report > Über Goober

ÜBER GOOBER

Director: Steve Metze
Starring: E. Gary Gygax, John Kovalic, Michael Stackpole, Peter Adkison
Rated: Not rated - Contains some subject matter that is not appropriate for children.
Release: 2004
Website:
www.ubergoobermovie.com/
IMDB listing: Über Goober
Find it at: the Über Goober site

Über Goober is a documentary on gaming that covers both internal gaming culture and the external attitudes towards gaming and gamers. It is filmed in an interview style, with no narration, and covers miniature gaming, tabletop roleplaying, and two flavors of live-action roleplaying (dramatic and boffer fighting).

Über Goober covers a lot of ground, from details about the games themselves, to stereotypes and general opinions of gaming from people outside of the hobby, to cultural references to gamers (including clips from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, The X-Files, Saturday Night Live, the made-for-TV movie Mazes & Monsters, and The Simpsons).

Rating System

0 dice - The worst. Ever.
1 die - Very poor
2 dice - Not so bad
3 dice - Good
4 dice - Very good
5 dice - Excellent

Total Score
No dice - the worst imaginable score
5 dice - might be good for mocking
10-13 dice - (average) a renter
15 dice - don't miss it
20 dice - a keeper
25 dice - the best possible score

STORY - Since Über Goober is a documentary, there is no real plot to follow, but it is still organized well and doesn't seem to wander much. The film is divided into three different sections - Miniatures, Roleplaying, and LARP. There is a little bit of "bleed through" here and there, such as when Stackpole starts talking about the origins of role-playing urban myths during the miniatures segment, when that seems like it should be in the roleplaying segment.

Über Goober earns four dice for keeping things orderly and interesting.

CHARACTERS - Über Goober boasts interviews with some pretty big names in gaming - Gary Gygax, John Kovalic, Peter Adkison, and even outspoken gaming advocate Mike Stackpole, plus a large selection of average, everyday gamers (including a police officer and a lawyer) at a convention and in their natural habitats. A few of the interviews are anonymous - their faces are hidden in silhouette, since they do not wish to be 'outed' as gamers.

The chapters of the film are interspersed with on-the-street interviews where people are asked what they think of Dungeons & Dragons players. Most have contempt or general displeasure for anyone who is a gamer. In one interview, a group of men who are asked if they would date a selection of women with different hobbies choose the D&D player over the others because they feel she will be "freaky."

For the counter-gaming arguments, the film brings in interviews with Bob Larson, William Schnoebelen, and others who express their concerns that gaming is dangerous and evil. There are even a couple interviews with practicing pagans, who testify that the magic used in D&D and other role-playing games is nothing like the rituals that they practice.

For this wide selection of interviewees from many different angles, Über Goober earns five dice.

LAUGHS & GASPS - There are lots of opportunities to laugh, either with or at (and sometimes both) the people interviewed in Über Goober.

The biggest laugh, for me, came during the telephone interview with Bill Schnoebelen, and his account of how he and his wife have been attacked by opponents who astrally projected themselves into his home. (You can read some more of his outrageous claims here). There were also some good chuckles to be had at evangelist Bob Larson's story of exorcising a D&D character out of a woman (Fun fact: Larson apparently does his exorcisms before a live studio audience!).

The biggest gasp would have to be the interview with former gamer Larry Wessels from Christian Answers, in which he explains the evils and spiritual dangers of gaming by giving examples of his own perverted playing style, all of it delivered in his gawky, chuckling manner:

"Over time, it starts to take effect in the sense that you become obsessed with always needing more. Uh, okay, we had a, we had a... we raped the princess over here in this palace, but uh, that's not good enough, a month later let's spice it up, now they're going to capture a caravan on a highway, and there's fifty virgin women. And, uh, instead of just one woman over here, let's move it up to fifty. And then let's start talking about all the stuff we can do to each one of 'em, and then what we're going to do to them afterwards..."

It was easily the most disturbing part of the film. Four dice for letting us laugh at ourselves, and showing just how scary the opposition can really be.

REFERENCES & REALITY - Über Goober easily scores five dice here, for giving solid examples of what happens during a game, showing first-hand experiences with gaming and game conventions, explaining the origins of the myths about gaming, and giving anti-gamers an opportunity to look foolish all on their own. Best of all, the film dispels the "loner myth," one of the most persistent (and illogical) myths about gamers. There are very many scenes of 'loner' gamers having a great time together and enjoying each other's company at home, at a convention, and on the LARP battlefield. It's an example you could easily show someone the next time they try to tell you that gamers are loners.

BONUS DICE - Über Goober earns one bonus die right out of the gate for including Schnobelen's comments about astral projection attacks. It's obvious that it had nothing to do with the subject at hand, but was included to make a point about how ridiculous his claims can get. This sort of critical scrutiny should happen much more often than it does when people make claims like these.

The special features on the DVD include a trailer, the complete Gygax interview and a short tour of Lake Geneva (guided by Gygax himself) titled "D&D Beginnings", more of the street interviews, and a great short about the crew and their experiences making the film. The Gygax bits are interesting (but a little dry), the street interviews are painful to watch and listen to, and the crew short was fun. I'll toss in three bonus dice for the extras, bringing the total to four dice.

DICE BAG - Über Goober has earned a bag of 22 dice. It's an enjoyable film that covers many aspects of hobby games and the people who play them.

 

"He's prowling like a lying, devouring people..."

This review is pure, 100% opinion, and could be completely wrong. Agree? Disagree? Just want to add your two coppers? Email me at

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