I’ve never played The Settlers of Catan, a nearly 20-year-old game first developed in Germany, but that doesn’t mean I can’t relate to the guys featured in the docu-short “The Politics of Competitive Board Gaming Amongst Friends.” Being a highly-competitive person myself, I’ve flipped a few Risk boards and thrown a few Trivial Pursuit pie pieces in my day. It’s amazing how serious things can become in the midst of a heated board game battle.
And when someone blows up, it gets a little awkward. The dramatic/comedic awkwardness that results from being so emotionally invested in a game that you know is just a game is at the center of this documentary from director Jay Cheel.
Here’s how Cheel describes how he got the idea for the short documentary:
A little while ago, our friend Gerry had a bit of an outburst during one of our matches. He blew up at us all and then went home, claiming he’d never play with us again. It was an awkward moment that I immediately thought was worthy of some discussion. Our “in game” personalities are quite different from the “real” us, so I thought it might be interesting to talk to those involved and see what sort of insight they have on each others gaming personalities. Also, the idea of handling such a trivial subject in such a serious manner was irresistible. This is a comedy, first and foremost.
The main conflict in the film is between Gerry and his nemesis Matt and the outburst occurs when Matt tells Gerry that he’s taking to long to make his move. Or was it someone else that said that? Everybody seems to remember it a bit differently – something we can all relate to when we try to remember how a fight amongst friends got started.
Check it out below:
Cheel’s first documentary Beauty Day received some acclaim, and he has worked on a viral marketing campaign for the game Too Human. His next project, How to Build a Time Machine is a full-length feature. He says that this short was a “dry run” for that film, from a technical standpoint.