Steve Metze’s modestly-budgeted documentary offers a good-natured portrait of “gamers,” not in the sense of computer gamers but devotees of role-playing games, whether they be of the historical war-game, fantasy board, or dress-up re-creationist variety. From the technical perspective “Uber Goober,” which refers to the ultimate form of geekdom such aficionados often admit to, is pretty bare-bones stuff, but it’s sound enough to do what it sets out to do, which is basically to debunk the notion that gamers are prone to the dark, occultist side (a charge leveled by some Christian activists interviewed here). They may be eccentric, obsessive, even weird; but, it implies, devotees of such hobbies aren’t necessarily dangerous social misfits.
“Uber Goober” covers this world–through background material, interviews (including one with E. Gary Gygax, the creator of Dungeons and Dragons) and narration, with good humor, but without cynicism or snootiness. The approach is straightforward, treating its subjects without condescension or contempt. Nor does it portray the Christian critics of gamesters as buffoons, although their own words might make them appear absurdly alarmist. There are even moments of poignance as inveterate players, some of them photographed in shadow to preserve their anonymity, testify to their near-addiction but do so with a certain self-awareness, explaining that their avocation gives them not only entertainment but, very often, a sense of camaraderie many lack in their “ordinary” lives. Most of them are quite cognizant of how peculiar they look to the “outside,” and of the effect that’s sometimes had on past friendships and other aspects of their lives. And quite honestly when the picture gets to the final segment, dealing with the guys who dress up in makeshift wizard or warrior outfits and engage in mock battles with soft plastic swords, there’s something just a touch pathetic about their efforts. But even there, or in a goofy convention-style board game session that precedes it, it all seems benignly silly rather than threatening.
So while one has to make allowances for its home-movie quality, this little movie’s affectionately lowbrow treatment of an often-maligned subculture has a certain homely charm.