I recently watched the preview of the new MMO documentary, The Raid, which you can watch for yourself here. The movie presents the most accurate portrayal of raiding currently available. It’s all the greater shame, then, that the movie consistently falls back on stereotypes for no discernible reason other than it’s what people expect to see.
But let’s talk about the positive. The actual film-making is very good. I really appreciated how the director cut together the interviews with in-game footage; the thoughtful compilation of interviews, encounters, and webcam film went together very nicely. The points covered are also very well done and answer questions parents and non-gamers may ask on the most general level: Who, what, and why. Sound design was also great.
Which brings me to the negative. Within the first 15 minutes you’ll see:
- Expressions such as “rape your face”? Check.
- Misogynist lines such as (and I’m very lightly paraphrasing) “Female gamers fall into two groups … they’re either really nice or they’re a bitch. They’re either really good or they’re bad.” Check.
- Giving up of necessities (like shopping and exercise… minus Red Bull and Charleston Chew, of course)? Check.
- Saying “F*ck* and “Sh*t” because you can? Check.
And an ending crescendo:
- Bleeped out “He’s a f*g for your d*ck?”
- White kid shouting “N-word!” in ? Check.
This is a pattern they trace from the opening segments until the closing scenes. What’s worse, it genuinely feels like the raiders intentionally portrayed themselves this way. Most of the time they’re normal, likeable people. Then, seemingly out of nowhere, they come off with something you have to shake your head at. The Raid is another example of a documentary that knows what its audience expects to hear and lives up to that through these random, but very unfortunate reminders. The whole film seems to say, “Hey, you see these people? They could be normal, right? Maaaaaybe — gotcha! Rape your face! Two-mode women! We’d die in the hood so we’re racist behind closed doors!”
Midway through the movie I was forced to ask myself, “who is this being made for.” And that’s they key. A movie like this isn’t made for the MMO players who, let’s face it, don’t need a movie to tell them how raiding works. This film was made for the non-indoctrinated and the fringe candidate. It was made for parents, girlfriends, teachers, and siblings. It was made for the techie whose buddy talks about WoW at work. In that light, it seems that the director may have realized that the “average people doing not-average things” approach wasn’t the best way to sell tickets (or downloads).
If you can get past the flaws inherent in targeted-documenting, The Raid is worth watching. Like it or leave it, the stereotypes they present are still what MMO players are striving against. It’s not all bad, I promise. If The Raid does one thing right, it’s including enough accuracy to give the best representation of modern raiding — the activity, not the people — there is. That’s not necessarily glowing praise considering there’s very, very little competition, and what there is has largely been found in slanted docu-news specials on prime-time TV. Where real players may take umbrage with some of the characterization that takes place. Some of these people are normal and do absolutely nothing to draw ire, which is really too bad for them because they’re all going to be lumped into one; as a matter of fact, the majority of offensive and filthy language comes from two people: Lore, who you might know from the WoW community, and Greyhammer, who you probably don’t know from anywhere. A word of advice for this group, get rid of Greyhammer. He obviously makes people uncomfortable and made you all look way worse than you probably are.
I can imagine a mother, or friend, or techie walking away and saying “THAT’s the kind of person you spend time with?” Still, like I said, it’s not all like that, so it’s still a cut above the Dateline NBC days of Everquest romances gone wrong and hit-monger headlines about the Chinese dying from exhaustion. In the end, however, this is a movie that will only convince you of wherever you were leaning in the first place. Take it for what it is.