VGHS: Episode One (2012)

I judge films, as any other film goer does too. The first thing you do when a film finishes if you go with some friends is ask, “what did you think?” It’s seriously a tough question to answer. Firstly, you were just immersed into the world of the characters, only to follow them wholeheartedly or not, and then place judgement of what should happen in your eyes. Secondly, you actually have to try an remember everything that has happened in the film itself, and regurgitate a constructed argument for feeling a certain way about the film.

Gosh that is difficult, but thankfully our brains work in hyper-speed and that occurs within millionths of milliseconds. But nonetheless, your first impressions are where you end up beginning your judgement, and it was no coincidence that is exactly where I began mine on Matthew Arnold, Brandon Laatsch, and Freddie Wong’s, Video Game High School web series.

The opening title sequence, is something refreshing that emits not only the world that the characters live in, but that dream of “why didn’t my high school have an opening like that?” If the title sequence is anything to go by, this is going to be high quality content.

Throwing off from that you are in the middle of something intense. Guns are blaring, Canadian and Mexican army soldiers shooting at each other, and you don’t even know if this is real or not. Well its not. But the let down isn’t as rewarding than the way being shot is represented in this series. There isn’t blood oozing out of a corpse, needing to be tracked ridiculous amounts of time, but rather shattering glass.

It’s important to note that once in a world – film and videos – that if you didn’t have blood effects when a character was shot it immediately lost all realistic and convincing credibility to the story, and needed to be rebuilt. But now it has become a conforming attribute with the rise of video games that make us accustomed to such effects, and having a less impact than it should.

What particularly stands out as the greatest feature of the pilot episode is the editing. The creation of talking at your computer, and then mid sentence joining in the game really allows the connection to characters develop. Not only is there Brian D (played by Josh Blaylock) in the real world cycling away like Dennis the Menace, but the first person shooter (FPS) Brian D who takes the hits for his physical being. Yet this is furthered with the ability to actually have footage to cut to – though bland without the comedy scripting – rather than watch Brian find his cat in what would feel like real time.

But this secondary world is also better than anything you can imagine – not just for the ability it holds for high impact action. It connects characters, without needing to explicitly show where they are, or who they are. We get it that if they’re not shooting one another then they’re allies, but there’s no need to show how they know each other, if they go to school together, or any other “filler” content.

Portions of the episode I didn’t mind, but wasn’t fond of were the “IRL” sections. I understand the affect it was to hold, and produce, but it seemed extremely artificial. Now granted these shows are indeed artificial themselves, it just wasn’t in sync with the other compositions of the story. I blame the lack of contrast, but again the dialogue too seemed stilted at times.

And to why this gets a very high rating? Because it, for the very few internet web series actually makes me want to come back weekly. And not because I’ll get notified when it’s released, but because it’s darn good content. It’s as if the creators saw everything in films, and then listened to what the audiences were saying about them, and fixed or made it more enjoyable to watch (see acceptance video monologue).