September 24, 2014 | by Kimberly Fletcher
Trailer Whore: Of Dice And Men

I’m a lot of things, but one thing I’m not is a gamer. At least not a D&D gamer. I married one and since we met he has been trying to get me to join him on some mythical quest. I can’t seem to do it. I’ve tried. I joined games, but being the fresh meat at the table always seems to drive GM’s a little crazy. They immediately want to test me, see if I’m up to the challenge, rather than ease me into it. The end result is that we leave for the evening and it takes a good 3 years for me to try again. We’ve been together 10 years this December which means sometimes in early spring will be when the moon and stars align and I will be forced to quest again.

So when our Editor-in-Chief asked me to review a new Indie film I was excited. Then he told me it was about D&D. I think he saw me actually mentally shrink away from the idea – No the initial reaction was to run and hide until he found someone else. But that was foolish. I should be the one to write about it, I have a degree (though not used) in film making and I’m the Acts of Geek Trailer Whore. I had to step up and face my D&D demons no matter what armor class they were. Before I could commit I had to see the trailer…(come on, it’s my thing).

The film, Of Dice and Men, produced by Cavegirl Productions, is based off the critically-acclaimed play of the same name by Cameron McNary. The play which debuted in 2010 at PAX Prime on the surface is about tabletop role-playing gamers, but if you look a little deeper it’s about the friendships and relationships that keep gamers coming back week after week and game after game.

When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things.

GroupDiceLet’s do what I do, let’s talk film. With all my initial trepidation aside I found that I really did love this movie. The base of any solid film is the writing and Of Dice and Men was built on a strong foundation. The story revolves around a group of friends, who venture into the realms of D&D led by their creative Dungeon Master, John Francis. Along with introductions to each of the real characters we are introduced to their D&D counterparts. McNary’s script was witty, clever, and most of all, real. The characters never felt like they were monologue-ing unless their D&D characters were in fact monologue-ing. Its far too easy when writing a script which involves fandom to throw in every possible reference; still when geeks speak they do quote things a lot – you need to find a good balance. At no time while watching the movie did I feel like I was missing an inside joke, though I’m sure there were a few for the die-hards because my husband snickered to himself once or twice.

Of Dice and Men_StillI felt I learned something about D&D, which I haven’t been able to from the games I have been forced at sword point to enter. Though the main focus is not the game, it does give the peripheral-gamer (which is more or less how I see myself) a better sense of how a game would be played and why it’s enjoyable. The core of this group is not just the game, but the person running the game-John Francis. He has in part brought them together campaign after campaign. We have his best friend since age 8, John Alex. The jock knight, Jason who brings a nobility to the game. The oddly matched couple, Linda and Brandon join the adventure after putting the children to bed and lastly, Tara the Half-Elven Double Princess who can’t seem to find the right timing to make a love connection with John Francis. This band of merry adventurers falls apart when Jason announces that he has enlisted to go to Iraq. Emotions run high, verbal swords clash and a blow is delivered. I’m not talking D&D here. Reality has entered their game and for each of them they need to figure out how to deal with it.

Of Dice and Men_TaraMcNary’s handling of what is stereotypical geek behavior is handled well in the film. Though I don’t condone the use of stereotypes, they have been established with good reason. Being a geek-girl I do however know something about treatment of girls within the geek-community. Using the character Tara, McNary took time in his storytelling to touch upon one of the most frustrating parts of being a female gamer. Her introduction scene where a game store clerk explains to her that she doesn’t want to purchase a copy of GURPS: Warriors, but that she wanted the basic rule book because she can’t use this book without the basic rule book. It’s a scenario a lot of geek girls have faced, whether at the words of  gaming, comic or Radio Shack clerks. She rolled high on her diplomacy score, giving him enough of a verbal smack down to make it clear she was not a fake-gaming girl, and also seriously impressed gaming onlookers.

My one gripe about the film is the dialogue in the opening scene with John Francis and John Alex. Though cursing doesn’t bother me, I found John Alex’s dialogue to almost be attuned to the Reservoir Dogs “Like a Virgin” scene, you know the one with all those “dicks”. I think it’s peppered with a little too much profanity, which was not fucking necessary.

Of Dice and MenI can tell you that the green screen was well used in the film, that I liked how they used the square grid map when John Francis broke the fourth wall. I could tell you that the effects were not cheesy as they can so often be in independent low-budget films of this sort, but that is not going to get you to watch it. What will get you to watch is the connections. The ones between these gamers, the ones I was able to make as a peripheral-gamer. It is a film about real people, who love this game. I had a hard time understanding the tag line of this film at first “A geek movie without the self-loathing”.  I didn’t get it at first, because all the people I know who game are damn proud of it. Then I thought about how I originally perceived D&D gamers before I met my husband. I get it now.

One last thing, along with my connection to Tara, I feel I most connected to Brandon. Linda’s football loving barbarian husband who plays because she loves it. Brandon’s speech to John Francis near the end of the film made me realize how wrong I have been in fighting against something my husband loves so much. Like Brandon with his love of football I have things that “matter to me. A lot.” We might not get it – these things they love, but we get how they make the ones we love feel. My husband loves D&D and he loves to play. I think it’s high time I pulled out a character sheet and get to work on my own back-story.

For more information on this film check out Of Dice and Men.

Kimberly spent years as an agent for MI-5, a consultant for Fringe Division and an adviser for the Torchwood Institute in London before walking away for a quieter life. A Master of the Art of Google-Fu she now spends her days being un-extraordinary in a field of cube farms creating magic with her black-box. Kimberly settled in the Northeast region of the United States with her tinfoil hat husband, Mad Dog, to raise their family of Super Villains. With a degree in film-making, a love of photography and art she fights the evil Stepford-wife urges to become an ordinary soccer mom.

3 Comments
  • This sounds like a lot of fun. I’m curious how it compares to other RPG films & media, like The Gamers, the D&D episodes of Community, or that one RP episode of Dexter’s Laboratory. Is this going to be available on DVD or online any time soon, or will we need to catch it on the Con scene to experience it?

    (Oh, and I love the Corinthians quote, which brings me back to when Cereal Killer said it in Hackers)

    • The Standard Edition of the film is available for download on their site (http://www.ofdiceandmenthemovie.com) for $9.99. You can also purchase a DVD of the Standard Edition as well for $19.99. They are working a special edition which will include:

      HD with 5.1 Surround Sound mix
      Behind the Scenes and Outtakes
      Audio Commentary with the
      Director, Executive Producer and Screenwriters

      You can pre-order this currently for $12.99 (I’m assuming its another download).

      I’m not a big RPG film watcher, though I have been exposed to some. I felt that the Tag Line actually got it right – it wasn’t all about the self-loathing and the typical stereotypes that go along with the fandom. I think to often the other media I have seen has “focused” on the negative side – the living in your mom’s basement, the never having touched a real girl or being unable to socialize outside the D&D gene-pool. Though there softball references to stuff like that in Of Dice and Menit’s not the focus.

      Like so many reference to baseball – it’s for the Love of the Game.

  • Hey, I’m the Exec. Producer. Feel free to ask me any questions you’d like. I hadn’t actually had a chance to read through this review before – and I’m sorry I didn’t. Thanks for the most excellent review.

    -SCP

Leave a Reply

— required *

— required *

Photos on flickr
Acts of Geek is your one stop for geek news and analysis.

Stay tuned for more from the Acts of Geek Network.

Contact Us

You can reach us via phone or post:

T: (559) 715 AOFG

E: actsofgeek@actsofgeek.com

Theme by Theme Flames, powered by Wordpress.