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March 13, 2008 - Image 13

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 2008-03-13

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e Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com
Imagination is a
20-sided die
efore dorm-wide "Halo" him "an unrepentant hack, more
and "Warcraft III" Michael Bay than Ingmar Berg-
tournaments, before man."
lord of Warcraft," "Second From one geek to the next,
e," "EverQuest" and "Baldur's Sofge offers salient, if obnox-
te," there was "Dungeons & iously snarky evidence to back
agons." his argument that "DD" is actu-
This is not an obituary for E. ally a pretty shitty game, and
ry Gygax, the "DnD" creator that Gygax is "far outclassed by
o passed away last week at contemporaries such as Steve
age of 69. I never knew the Jackson and Greg Stafford."
y, never played his game and Fair enough. When observed in
ver knew anyone who did. But the insider mold, I'll take Sofge
d I take I at face value. He rails against
s next step "experience points" and the
th proud senseless bloodbaths the games
pidation) create. Think: "World of War-
'as a huge craft" gold farms.
agic: The "'Dungeons & Dragons' strips
thering" the 'role-playing' out of RPGs,"
d. To add ANDREW Sofge wrote. "It's a videogame
that, my SARGUS without the graphics, and a pret-
ends and I EU tyboring one, at that."
ated our - _ I'm going to let Fraywath,
n "DnD"-like role-playing Slate's collection of the best
mes in elementary school. comments on a given article,
ocked a legit Tyranid army answer this one (several times
"Warhammer 40K", I've over): "Your dungeon master
voured all of Tolkien and I sucked"; "Whiny neckbearded
yed "Warcraft III" through contrarian trollery"; and, "I can't
shman year of college. I have think of anyone who belittles
ig space in my heart for this Henry Ford because his auto-
ff. mobiles have been transformed
Robert Jordan - author of into something far superior. Or,
long-lasting "The Wheel for that matter, the first person
Time" fantasy book series to come up with the household
assed away in September. mop."
t his death was not nearly as Sofge missed the point of
blicized as Gygax's: While the all those grand paeans. Sure,
n sold millions and millions of they might have overlooked the
Aks (and maintained a baller
g), he didn't create a move-
nt like Gygax did. Embracing the
There's something to be said
titans like Gygax and Jor- transformative
n. (You and I are too young to
ireciate "Conan the Barbar- power of
" creator Robert Howard).
ese thinkers understood, geek culture
her consciously or uncon-
ously, the need to find won-
in something completely
orced from reality. The nitty-gritty-ness of game play
man imagination is constantly that Sofge trumpets, but they
vorking itself: soldiering called attention to how ubiqui-
ough ridiculous stats problem tous Gygax's imaginative world
s, daydreaming about a pretty became. In the opinion section
seone, getting a little thrill of The New York Times, Adam
ile owning fools, rereading Rogers, a senior editor at Wired
he Return of the King." And Magazine, wrote a beautiful
t's just the simple stuff. You paean to "DnD" and its founder:
't need me to tell you that "We live in Gary Gygax's
imaginations are the instru- world. The most popular books
nts of our greatest successes on earth are fantasy nov-
d, perhaps, our greatest fail- els about wizards and magic
s). swords. The most popular mov-
t's a dorky pursuit, basements ies are about characters from
J lisps and all. But damn if it superhero comic books. The
't an important milestone in most popular TV shows look like
culture. Much like comic elaborate role-playing games:
ks and the film/video game intricate, hidden-clue-laden sci-
losion that followed them, ence fiction stories connected to
ungeons & Dragons" holds an impossibly mathematical games
uably significant role in the that live both online and in the
tory of our culture and its col- real world."
tive imagination. Sofge can quibble with 20-
n an article for The New sided die all he wants. Gygax
ker's Style Issue, of all played a major role (pun intend-
ngs, best-selling author ed) in legitimizing nerds, dorks,

chael Chabon ("The Yiddish geeks and those on the edge of
icemen's Union," "The Amaz- puberty - allowing, as Rogers
Adventures of Kavalier and put it, "geeks to venture out of
y") wrote about superheroes our dungeons, blinking against
pecifically, their costumes. the light, just in time to create
relates a story his Hebrew the present age of electronic
oolteacher told involving a miracles."
'leaping to his death with In response to his teacher's
each-towel cape around his condemnation of comic char-
:k. acters, Chabon wrote, "It was
habon writes in the article, not about escape ... It was about
cret Skin: An essay in unitard transformation."
ory," that what his teacher That might be the most rel-
s trying to pound into him evant observation that can be
I his peers' heads was that made about the fantasy genre
ntasy betrayed you, and thus, and its shining effects. Give
mplication, your wishes, your kids the chance to momentarily
ams and longings, every- escape to/create a faux reality
ng you carried around inside world, and you give them the
:r head that only you ... could confidence to rework their own
lerstand ... would betray you, lives. Fraywatch picked up this
."l anecdote of a "DnD" player who
rhis type of betrayal, though, sacrificed his/her (who knows?)
psychological one, and per- character for the good of the
s a necessary illusion with group: "This was a character
essary disillusionment to I had played for months. I had
ow. But that argument is purchased her a home, drawn up
another column (one I don't the floor plans, detailed every

Thursday, March 13, 2008 - 3B

Film festival is Full Monty

By ANDREW LAPIN be intereste
Daily Staff Writer events like ti
the passiveI
The Redcoats have landed in Ann Arbor. film enthusi
Every Monday in March, the Michigan It's diffict
Theater is screening mov- "British film
ies from its British Invasion all movies m
Film Series. The program is The British characteristi
intended to be a celebration immsion "American fi
of classic and contempo- ers" on thes
rary cinema from across the HIM SefleS Men," withr
pond. Through A film's cou:
The series kicked off Mar.31 substitute ft
March 3 with the heist clas- A .h diately obvio
sic "The Italian Job" (1969) Theater films on disp
and continued this week It's easy
with the romantic com- ish film has
edy "Love Actually" (2003). Monday will see
the screening of "The Importance of Being
Earnest" (1952), widely considered the best- Bri
filmed version of Oscar Wilde's classic play.
"How to Get Ahead in Advertising" (1989), weren
a cult satire about a frustrated ad executive
who literally grows a second head, will fol- inva
low, and the series concludes on March 31
with "Trainspotting" (1996), a dark comedy
dealing with the bonds of friendship formed
over drug addiction.
Unlike past Michigan Theater film series,
like the fall's Stanley Kubrick retrospective, all, it hasn't
the British Invasion doesn't seem to have a the medium
specific audience in mind. Since every selec- did on Amer
tion comes from a different genre and time England ess
period, it's unlikely the casual filmgoer will conventions
CHECK THE ARTS
BLOG FOR DAILY
UPDATES AND
MUSINGS
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d in all of them. Then again,
hese aren't usually geared toward
types, but are designed for true
asts.
ult to classify someone as a fan of
" because the term implies that
ade in Great Britain share similar
ics. Few people claim to be fans of
im" - that would put"Transform-
ame plane as "No Country for Old
no distinction of quality or genre.
ntry of origin should not act as a
:r its genre. This becomes imme-
us when observing the variety of
lay at the Michigan Theater.
to overlook the influence Brit-
had on American cinema. After
itish musicians
i't the only ones to
de U.S. cultural
territory
made as much of an impact on
as the original British Invasion
ican music in the 1960s. Even so,
entially birthed many of the film
we now associate with Holly-

wood. The framework for the modern action
movie came from "The Italian Job" and the
James Bond series, with their breakneck car
chases and invincible catchphrase-spouting
heroes. Characteristically British comedies
like "How to Get Ahead in Advertising" and
the Monty Python films have always been
huge sources of inspiration for American
comedies.
Like it or not, even today's box-office-clog-
ging absurdist spoofs like "Meet the Spar-
tans" may have at least partial roots in British
film.
The British Invasion doesn't just apply to
purely British-made movies, though. Nowa-
days, many British actors and directors jour-
ney to America to find work in Hollywood
productions - and their reputations follow.
Sometimes the mere presence of a Brit is all
that's needed to add a sense of prestige. Last
month at the Oscars, English actor Tilda
Swinton ("Michael Clayton") took home the
gold for Best Supporting Actress, and joining
her on the list of acting nominees were fel-
low Brits Julie Christie (Best Actress, "Away
From Her") and Tom Wilkinson (Best Sup-
porting Actor, "Michael Clayton").
British film has been a mainstay of the
world's cinema a long time, and its influence
is only more apparent today. The British Inva-
sion Film Series should be required viewing
for anyone who limits their cross-cultural
understanding to marathons of "Shaun of the
Dead."

Scholarships & Financial Aide Still Available!
wwwJsa.umich.edu/umbs

I

I I'm smart enough to write).
tardless, the teacher's argu-
nt is felt in the very existence
World of Warcraft" gold
ms (dozens of gamers, held
lave-like conditions, earning
e gold to sell to lazy gam-
on eBay); in MySpace-based
rders and suicides; in expul-
ns and suspensions based on
ebook profiles; and in sexual
dators on the Internet. The
rlds we project ourselves into,
wever innocuous, sometimes
ew us over. That's unavoid-
e, though. The best we can do
o minimize the effect as much
ossible.
lut there's another type of
rayal, and it's specifically
olved with "DnD" as a game
1 must be addressed. On Mon-
,Slate's Erik Sofge eschewed
sort of respect for the dead
took Gygax to town, calling

See MErIA .Pag A

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