It was a bright and sunny Saturday morning,..

...actually, now I think about it, I'm fairly sure it was actually the afternoon.

And the weather might have been cats and dogs for all I know, but it was warm and cosy in the UCC bar, on the second day of WarpCon 2003 in Cork, Ireland.

Having tired of the Star Trek drinking game (congratulations are due, incidentally, to Bernard for winning the game. On what criteria it's judged I'm still not entirely sure), the audio-visual equipment was commandeered to give us a wee and, in all three senses 'rare', treat in the form of a screening of Dead Gentlemen Productions' hilarious über-indie low-budget short film, 'The Gamers', written and directed by Matt Vancil.

From the Dead Gentlemen web site:

"One late night in a college dorm, four socially inept geeks immerse themselves in a fantasy world of their own creation. As their characters journey through forbidden kingdoms, ancient ruins, and the forsaken wilderness, the players attempt to solve a mysterious puzzle that could ultimately mean the difference between getting a life and death. Who is The Shadow? Where is The Princess hidden? Will any of them ever find a date? And how long do they have before their annoyed neighbors call the cops?"

The basic premise of the movie, as you might guess, is that four geeks are playing a role-playing game. This would make for a very dull film if it weren't for the live action fantasy element: for the bulk of the movie, we cut between the players in their dorm room, and their fantasy characters in the game world.

The result is some fantastic humour based on the relationship between the real world and the fantasy world, where the gamemaster has final say over reality and surreality. We follow the action in the fantasy world as the players call out their moves, only to have them vetoed by the GM.

The nature of the game, being turn-based leads to opportunities for self-contradictory catchphrasery: "Am I still unconscious?" being my own personal favourite (when a player is rendered unconscious for several turns).

The piece ends with a twist which, while it's visible from a thousand miles away, further parodies the clichés and lack of mythos surrounding role playing games and those that play them.

The cast, such as they are (again from the website):

For upcoming screenings of the movie (coming soon to a gaming convention near you, if you're lucky), as well as downloads of pictures and the movie's trailer, try the official website:
http://gamers.deadgentlemen.com

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