With Pure Pwnage: Teh Movie, the gamers’ web series gets the film it deserved

Pure Pwnage Teh Movie, still from trailer

Before we talk about Pure Pwnage, we need to lay out some truths for the noobs.

After Nintendo’s Satoru Iwata died last year it came to Wired to write what for years was an inevitable headline: “We’re All Gamers Now.

And sure, gaming has broadened in the past decade.

This time in 2006 the world had yet to experience the Nintendo Wii, a console that would prove a surprise hit with families as Iwata’s firm move away from the traditional gamer demographic – men aged 18-24 – to Sony and Microsoft.

Insofar as the greasy nerd in his mum’s basement ever had exclusive domain over gaming, that is now untrue.

On the commute home corporate fogies can be found playing Candy Crush, teenage girls login to Facebook to attend to FarmVille (assuming that’s still a thing), and even your mum has probably progressed beyond Snake.

But if gaming as a pastime no longer rids you of social capital, there remains a distinction between a gamer’s gamer and the plebs who play Call of Duty and Fifa.

Not that there is anything inherently superior about playing League of Legends or Team Fortress 2 or Dota, but for gaming as a subculture only certain games qualify.

And it’s for those games, and those gamers, that Pure Pwnage was made.

Back in 2004, prior even to the launch of YouTube, filmmaker Geoff Lapaire and actor Jarett Cale set out to parody the image of the hardcore gamer in the character of Jeremy, a man-child obsessed with Command & Conquer.

The series became a surprise hit, perhaps because it was done with affection instead of a sneer, and the creators went on to release 18 episodes online over several years – a run brought to a close by the premature death of Troy Dixon, who played T-Bag, in late 2008.

Two years later the web series was followed by a television show commissioned by Showcase, a Canadian channel, which had a great deal of polish but felt oddly lifeless, and did not return.

It looked like the series had died. But in September 2012 Lapaire and Cale put together an Indiegogo campaign, raising $220,000 (£155,000) for Pure Pwnage: Teh Movie.

The result, as I found out when attending the British screening in Whitechapel, London in late February, combines both the soul of the web series with the production values of the TV show.

The premise is that Jeremy (played by Cale), has given up on gaming and taken up a boring office job.

His latent attention deficit disorder is waylaid by a regular diet of pills, and he is now dedicated to maintaining efficiency at his job, and scornful of gamers.

However Jeremy’s brother Kyle (played by Lapaire, who stands behind the camera) has a plan to make a movie about gamers, and contrives to bring Jeremy back to his favoured pastime. Cue comedy.

What’s strange to note is that while gaming as a medium has moved substantially on since Jeremy first explained the potency of Command & Conquer replays, most of the gags still hold.

The intense competitiveness of Jeremy is buttressed with subtler humour about the integrity of the word “Nazi” and gay marriage as a tax-avoidance scheme, and the writing is sharper than it ever was.

Perhaps it works because since e-gaming took off the notion of the hardcore gamer has actually deepened further, and the scattering of webcasts and podcasts with the former Pure Pwnage cast has revealed they have continued to follow the industry’s progress.

Whatever else Cale and Lapaire have been doing in the years since the web series and film they have also sharpened up their producing and editing skills, since Teh Movie also carries much of the TV show’s slickness.

What old fans of the show get is a celebration of everything that was great about the old show (including, in cameo form, Dave), and everything that is great about being a gamer.

It’s clear also from the Q&A session held at the end of the film that the film’s creators have every intention of pushing the movie as far as it will go.

All of which is to be hoped for. But if this is to be the last hurrah of Pure Pwnage, it will serve as the send-off that the series deserves.

At a time when nobody respectable gave a shit about games or gamers, Lapaire and Cale sought to mock the pastime without patronising their subjects.

More than a decade later we may not all be gamers, but for those that are, there’s still Pure Pwnage.

Image Credit – Pure Pwnage: Teh Movie, still from trailer

Jimmy Nicholls
Writes somewhat about British politics and associated matters. Contact jimmy@rightdishonourable.com

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