D&D in the News - Dungeons & Dragons: A Documentary

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D&D in the News
Dungeons & Dragons: A Documentary

2011 July 7
by Michael Tresca

Anthony Savini and producing partner Andrew Pascal are currently starting production to create the definitive documentary on Dungeons & Dragons.

Talk about this news here.

 
im surprised there isnt one already and would def watch
if these guys are as reputable as is suggested by the article, then it might be advisable for wotc to become directly involved, even if only to throw these guys a small bone or two; but that's just my 2 cents.
I imagine they'll supply some comments. In any case there are so many people out there who have worked on the game in the past I doubt they'll lack for commentary or facts. OTOH if it were a hack job there's not a lot WotC can say that will change that.
That is not dead which may eternal lie
I'd be wary if I were WOTC.  Quite frankly, sensationalist stories sell better than reasonable ones.  SO it strikes me as more likely the gist of this documentary is either "EEEEEK!!! T3H SATAN!!!1!" or "HA HA! Look at the basement dwelling nerds!" than anything realistically showing the game or gamers.
There is something similar on youtube called Dungeon Masters
I'd be wary if I were WOTC.  Quite frankly, sensationalist stories sell better than reasonable ones.  SO it strikes me as more likely the gist of this documentary is either "EEEEEK!!! T3H SATAN!!!1!" or "HA HA! Look at the basement dwelling nerds!" than anything realistically showing the game or gamers.



Did you even read the article?

I'm an RPG advocate and member of the Committe for the Advancement of Role-Playing Games.  I lambasted The Dungeon Masters for being precisely the hack job you mentioned (the second one -- mock the freaks-style documentary). I will be in the documentary.  I've spoken with the producers at length and they plan to give a respectful but balanced overview of Dungeons & Dragons' effects on the mainstream media -- not just gamers, but fashion, fiction, movies, etc.

There's no guarantee that it will be a popular view, but it certainly won't be a hysterical attack on gamers.  The producers are gamers themselves.
SO it strikes me as more likely the gist of this documentary is either "EEEEEK!!! T3H SATAN!!!1!" or "HA HA! Look at the basement dwelling nerds!" than anything realistically showing the game or gamers.

These Boards (an assumedly gamer-friendly environment) gives evidence that there is room for both of these views in any documentary of D&D.

Here are the PHB essentia, in my opinion:
  • Three Basic Rules (p 11)
  • Power Types and Usage (p 54)
  • Skills (p178-179)
  • Feats (p 192)
  • Rest and Recovery (p 263)
  • All of Chapter 9 [Combat] (p 264-295)
A player needs to read the sections for building his or her character -- race, class, powers, feats, equipment, etc. But those are PC-specific. The above list is for everyone, regardless of the race or class or build or concept they are playing.
SO it strikes me as more likely the gist of this documentary is either "EEEEEK!!! T3H SATAN!!!1!" or "HA HA! Look at the basement dwelling nerds!" than anything realistically showing the game or gamers.

These Boards (an assumedly gamer-friendly environment) gives evidence that there is room for both of these views in any documentary of D&D.



I'm the author of the article, if that wasn't clear from my first post.

Jumping to the conclusion that it's somehow putting down D&D when I wrote "They've asked me to participate and I hope that this balanced documentary will do justice to the hobby we all know and love," seems willfully ill-informed.

As you correctly pointed out, it should DEAL with both sides of the issue -- but my hope is that it won't reinforce negative stereotypes, and my early dialogue with the filmmakers supports that balanced approached.

The final product will speak for itself, I'm sure.
As you correctly pointed out, it should DEAL with both sides of the issue -- but my hope is that it won't reinforce negative stereotypes, and my early dialogue with the filmmakers supports that balanced approached.

The final product will speak for itself, I'm sure.

Unfortunately, it will reinforce stereotypes and won't speak for itself. Documentaries NEVER speak for themselves. They say exactly what the audience wants them to say, although they can be largely shaped by what the director/editor wants them to say.

People who watch documentaries go to them in order to confirm their views.


  • Michael Moore's documentaries confirm the believers that Cuba is the best place to be seriously ill, that everyone who owns a gun is a psycho, and that somehow the NRA is why a bunch of kids were killed in Columbine. And it has those who oppose him convinced that everything he says is a lie and that not a thing in his documentaries reflects any semblance of reality. (Both groups are marginally right and simultaneously wrong.)

  • Nobody goes to see Food Inc. for the purpose of having their minds changed about their diet. They go for confirmation that the change they have made (or want to make) is the right one or to provide a series of anecdotes to discredit any opposition to their current diet.


Those who watch this documentary will be just as pro-D&D or anti-D&D as they were when they watched it. The documentary (if not intentionally polemic in its bias and slant) will prove that D&D gamers are unhygienic, fat, slovenly, and socially-inept. It will simultaneously prove that D&D gamers are clean, healthy, organized, well-adjusted members of society. It just depends on which viewer you ask.

And the few viewers who do not have either of these views going in will likely be bored, because they don't have a dog in that fight.

Thus is the nature, not of D&D, but of documentaries and documentary viewers.
Here are the PHB essentia, in my opinion:
  • Three Basic Rules (p 11)
  • Power Types and Usage (p 54)
  • Skills (p178-179)
  • Feats (p 192)
  • Rest and Recovery (p 263)
  • All of Chapter 9 [Combat] (p 264-295)
A player needs to read the sections for building his or her character -- race, class, powers, feats, equipment, etc. But those are PC-specific. The above list is for everyone, regardless of the race or class or build or concept they are playing.
I'd be wary if I were WOTC.  Quite frankly, sensationalist stories sell better than reasonable ones.  SO it strikes me as more likely the gist of this documentary is either "EEEEEK!!! T3H SATAN!!!1!" or "HA HA! Look at the basement dwelling nerds!" than anything realistically showing the game or gamers.



Did you even read the article?

I'm an RPG advocate and member of the Committe for the Advancement of Role-Playing Games.  I lambasted The Dungeon Masters for being precisely the hack job you mentioned (the second one -- mock the freaks-style documentary). I will be in the documentary.  I've spoken with the producers at length and they plan to give a respectful but balanced overview of Dungeons & Dragons' effects on the mainstream media -- not just gamers, but fashion, fiction, movies, etc.

There's no guarantee that it will be a popular view, but it certainly won't be a hysterical attack on gamers.  The producers are gamers themselves.



Yes I did read the article.  My point really is this, the producers may SAY they plan to give a respectful but balanced overview etc., but that doesn't mean that's what they will necessarily DO.  I am thinking particularly of an ugly incident a few years ago where the producers of a blatantly creationist documentary (Expelled) got a few scientists to appear in it by misleading them as to the nature of the documentary and then dishonestly editing them.

If you personally know the producers and know they wouldn't do something like that, then I will glad to be wrong.  




Those who watch this documentary will be just as pro-D&D or anti-D&D as they were when they watched it. The documentary (if not intentionally polemic in its bias and slant) will prove that D&D gamers are unhygienic, fat, slovenly, and socially-inept. It will simultaneously prove that D&D gamers are clean, healthy, organized, well-adjusted members of society. It just depends on which viewer you ask.




Exactly, except that the views of the documentary maker (and/or the desires of the marketing people behind it)will determine which of the two groups of viewers it is going to be aimed at bringing in.

Unfortunately, it will reinforce stereotypes and won't speak for itself. Documentaries NEVER speak for themselves. They say exactly what the audience wants them to say, although they can be largely shaped by what the director/editor wants them to say.


Since there's no objective reality, I choose to interpret your post as a positive confirmation that the intent of the video is not intentionally polemic in bias and slant.

Thanks.
Sounds like a cool project. talien3, let us know more about it when there'll be developpement.

I will follow this.


PS If they are willing to travel and come to Montreal, i would gladly participate. Wink
Yes I did read the article.  My point really is this, the producers may SAY they plan to give a respectful but balanced overview etc., but that doesn't mean that's what they will necessarily DO.  I am thinking particularly of an ugly incident a few years ago where the producers of a blatantly creationist documentary (Expelled) got a few scientists to appear in it by misleading them as to the nature of the documentary and then dishonestly editing them.

If you personally know the producers and know they wouldn't do something like that, then I will glad to be wrong.  



I had this conversation with the producers, and specifically about The Dungeon Masters.  Your Expelled example is pretty much what happened The Dungeon Masters, which is the nightmare scenario you described: gamers invited to talk about gaming and are then portrayed as adulterers, nudists, and psychotically insecure perpetual LARPers. Our theory is that The Dungeon Masters started out with noble aims and then degraded because the producers weren't getting the footage they needed to tell a compelling story.  So they went down the dark (and easier) route of sensationalism.

Right now this documentary is just starting (my part is filmed in a week).  Community support and attention is critical at this stage -- positive participation can help shape the documentary.  There's a lot of folks who've been in the industry a long time who plan to participate, certainly more senior and experienced than me. I've enlisted the help of the CAR-PGA (check them out at www.car-pga.org).  We wouldn't participate in something that degrades role-playing.

So this is a long-winded say of saying that I believe the producers and believe they wouldn't do something like that.  That's no guarantee of course -- I could be horribly wrong, but I wouldn't knowingly support such a project if I thought for a moment that the film would be any kind of satanic-panic attack. 
Sounds like a cool project. talien3, let us know more about it when there'll be developpement.

I will follow this.   



Their Facebook page is the best place to keep track is on www.facebook.com/DungeonsandDragonsDocum... although I'll be posting my own updates on my column: www.examiner.com/rpg-in-national/michael...

Thanks!
I choose to interpret your post as a positive confirmation that the intent of the video is not intentionally polemic in bias and slant.

A good choice. I cannot at this time know the intent of the film-makers, and do not ascribe to them any malice. I only describe in my post the general nature of the population of film-viewers.
Here are the PHB essentia, in my opinion:
  • Three Basic Rules (p 11)
  • Power Types and Usage (p 54)
  • Skills (p178-179)
  • Feats (p 192)
  • Rest and Recovery (p 263)
  • All of Chapter 9 [Combat] (p 264-295)
A player needs to read the sections for building his or her character -- race, class, powers, feats, equipment, etc. But those are PC-specific. The above list is for everyone, regardless of the race or class or build or concept they are playing.
Yes I did read the article.  My point really is this, the producers may SAY they plan to give a respectful but balanced overview etc., but that doesn't mean that's what they will necessarily DO.  I am thinking particularly of an ugly incident a few years ago where the producers of a blatantly creationist documentary (Expelled) got a few scientists to appear in it by misleading them as to the nature of the documentary and then dishonestly editing them.

If you personally know the producers and know they wouldn't do something like that, then I will glad to be wrong.  



I had this conversation with the producers, and specifically about The Dungeon Masters.  Your Expelled example is pretty much what happened The Dungeon Masters, which is the nightmare scenario you described: gamers invited to talk about gaming and are then portrayed as adulterers, nudists, and psychotically insecure perpetual LARPers. Our theory is that The Dungeon Masters started out with noble aims and then degraded because the producers weren't getting the footage they needed to tell a compelling story.  So they went down the dark (and easier) route of sensationalism.

Right now this documentary is just starting (my part is filmed in a week).  Community support and attention is critical at this stage -- positive participation can help shape the documentary.  There's a lot of folks who've been in the industry a long time who plan to participate, certainly more senior and experienced than me. I've enlisted the help of the CAR-PGA (check them out at www.car-pga.org).  We wouldn't participate in something that degrades role-playing.

So this is a long-winded say of saying that I believe the producers and believe they wouldn't do something like that.  That's no guarantee of course -- I could be horribly wrong, but I wouldn't knowingly support such a project if I thought for a moment that the film would be any kind of satanic-panic attack. 



I never watched The Dungeon Masters, now you have me wanting to watch it out of sheer morbid train-wreck style curiousity.  

But anyway, My problem really is that my own experince with my fellow gamers leads me to conclude that we are generally a pretty unexciting bunch.  Not that we're boring, just that we aren't all that different than most non-gamers, save that not a lot of people participate in our hobby, except for the handful of weirdos and corner cases that you will find in any group of people.  And  a quick and easy way to get viewers would be to concentrate on the weirdos because the guy that plays D&D once a week with his friends but it isn't the centerpoint of his life and has a wife, two kids and a job as a bank teller is that much harder to make into into interesting viewing.  Sounds like that route has already been taken once before.  I hope this one is as you say and I am not trying to cast aspersions on the filmmakers or anyone else.  I am just a bit paranoid from other things I have seen, that's all.   
Yes I did read the article.  My point really is this, the producers may SAY they plan to give a respectful but balanced overview etc., but that doesn't mean that's what they will necessarily DO.  I am thinking particularly of an ugly incident a few years ago where the producers of a blatantly creationist documentary (Expelled) got a few scientists to appear in it by misleading them as to the nature of the documentary and then dishonestly editing them.

If you personally know the producers and know they wouldn't do something like that, then I will glad to be wrong.  



I had this conversation with the producers, and specifically about The Dungeon Masters.  Your Expelled example is pretty much what happened The Dungeon Masters, which is the nightmare scenario you described: gamers invited to talk about gaming and are then portrayed as adulterers, nudists, and psychotically insecure perpetual LARPers. Our theory is that The Dungeon Masters started out with noble aims and then degraded because the producers weren't getting the footage they needed to tell a compelling story.  So they went down the dark (and easier) route of sensationalism.

Right now this documentary is just starting (my part is filmed in a week).  Community support and attention is critical at this stage -- positive participation can help shape the documentary.  There's a lot of folks who've been in the industry a long time who plan to participate, certainly more senior and experienced than me. I've enlisted the help of the CAR-PGA (check them out at www.car-pga.org).  We wouldn't participate in something that degrades role-playing.

So this is a long-winded say of saying that I believe the producers and believe they wouldn't do something like that.  That's no guarantee of course -- I could be horribly wrong, but I wouldn't knowingly support such a project if I thought for a moment that the film would be any kind of satanic-panic attack. 


Good luck- if the filmmakers can avoid the pitfalls of sensationalism, they might find a more receptive audience these days.  I think the negative gamer stereotypes still exist as caricatures, but there are many more people with fond childhood memories or little more than a vague awareness of D&D- they might inform some of that audience.  If part of the intended audience is gamers, then maybe we can get some nice historical perspectives on the game in its 40th anniversary.
-Alveric "And the sword that had visited Earth from so far away smote like the falling of thunderbolts; and green sparks rose from the armour, and crimson as sword met sword; and thick elvish blood moved slowly, from wide slits, down the cuirass; and Lirazel gazed in awe and wonder and love; and the combatants edged away fighting into the forest; and branches fell on them hacked off by their fight; and the runes in Alveric's far-travelled sword exulted, and roared at the elf-knight; until in the dark of the wood, amongst branches severed from disenchanted trees, with a blow like that of a thunderbolt riving an oak tree, Alveric slew him."
Good luck- if the filmmakers can avoid the pitfalls of sensationalism, they might find a more receptive audience these days.  I think the negative gamer stereotypes still exist as caricatures, but there are many more people with fond childhood memories or little more than a vague awareness of D&D- they might inform some of that audience.  If part of the intended audience is gamers, then maybe we can get some nice historical perspectives on the game in its 40th anniversary.

I hear you. My understanding is that it's meant to be a historical perspective on the impact of D&D, and particularly those who know of D&D only by its descendants (Warcraft, Hercules & Xena, Renaissance Festivals).

The filmmakers specifically told me their goal was to NOT show negative stereotypes but that there are gamers of all stripes.  The roster of folks lining up to be in it is huge and ranges from authors to screenwriters to politcians.

And for my view on The Dungeon Masters, see www.examiner.com/rpg-in-national/movie-r...

There is a kickstarter project currently going on concerning this documentary.  Anybody who thinks it is important to preserve the history and heritage of the game we love should donate whatever they can afford to this project.

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