If you use the internet, chances are you’ve noticed the increase in web series over the past several years. Actors, writers, and directors reached a point of frustration with Hollywood and creating original content for the web became an outlet for instant expression. The basics were still necessary of course: script writing, auditions, production design, etc. However, instead of waiting for the seven-headed executive to make decisions about which stories the broad audience wanted to hear, innovators could take to the web without being censored. The internet offered creative, if not financial, freedom. Niche interests could be developed and taken worldwide. How could creators resist?
The answer is, they couldn’t. The movement started with small productions like lonelygirl15 and the number of solely web-based shows available today is flooring. Even popular television shows like The Walking Dead are turning to the web to tell stories in between seasons. That action is a compliment to the quality of existing web series and networks have watched from afar and taken notice. Those shows help draw attention to the web, but it’s largely the smaller, creator owned titles that keep the movement rolling. For example, one subset of web series appeals to gamers.
Try to walk into a Hollywood conference room and pitch a show focusing on a group of tabletop gamers. Even in today’s current of appreciation for all things nerd, the idea would be sent downriver. You might have stacks of demographics showing how many 18-35 year olds engage in some form of gaming, but you’d be lucky to even get the meeting. But on the internet, you can reach out and connect with that audience. It takes time, hard work, and in most cases a significant amount of money, but it’s doable. Your audience is out there, waiting for content made just for them. Several series do this very well—here are a few worth checking out:
GOLD: Night of the Zombie King
What if tabletop roleplaying was a professional sport? Yes, it would be the coolest. Since it hasn’t happened (yet), live out the fantasy in David Nett and Andrew Deutsch’s series Night of the Zombie King. Old friends get together for one night to finish an unresolved game. They share memories, old feelings come back to haunt them, and they face regrets. It’s like a high school reunion but with dice and more interesting conversations. Seriously though, it’s fun and human.
If you need to laugh, you need to watch this web series. It’s that simple. JourneyQuest is made by the creators of The Gamers and The Gamers: Dorkness Rising. This reason alone should be enough to make you press play. This fantasy series is about a wizard with a quest problem. Colorful acting, entertaining writing, and solid production make this a must-see.
If you still haven’t heard of Felicia Day’s web series, The Guild, it’s time to get up to speed. The series introduces us to a guild of online gamers who play a game similar to World of Warcraft. Circumstances force them to meet and deal with each other in real life, and viewers have followed their adventures for five seasons. Codex, the primary character played by Day, is relatable for gamers and shy people in general. The show is humorous and does a great job at developing plot and characters in eight or so minute segments.
The existence of these series about gaming and gamers illustrates so perfectly why web series are made. The creators know their audience, and they are aware of how small their target is. They also know that said target packs a hefty punch. Response from fans often determines the lasting power of a web series and gamers have spoken. They like having shows they can relate to; maybe Hollywood will get it one day.