In 2009 I’d never heard of Felicia Day or really paid much attention to online video. My sister and I were obsessed with Demon’s Souls and during one of our many conversations she mentioned she was watching a show online called The Guild while playing Souls and after watching the episodes a couple times it was a great playlist just to put on repeat and listen to over and over for background while you played.
The premise wasn’t immediately grabbing to me. I didn’t play online much. I still haven’t played an MMO. I don’t play in groups when I do play online (Mostly just Mike and I playing various versions of Diablo). But I watched the first episode and fell in love with it. What’s it’s appeal?
- The Cast: Felicia Day, Sandeep Parikh, Jeff Lewis, Amy Okuda, Vince Caso, and Robin Thorsen ARE the show. As the titular guild, “The Knights of Good” they are the people we see and get to know during the course of the show. Anyone who’s played games, online or off, knows gamers like these. The Rule Nazis, the acid tongued, the goof off… We’ve all had experiences with them and they’ve made their marks on our gaming memories…for better or worse. The fact that none of the cast was really into gaming prior to the show speaks volumes to how good they all are as performers. The expanded cast is also excellent, most notable are Wil Wheaton, Mike Rose, Teal Shearer, Teddy Garces, and Alexandaer Yi as rival guild “The Axis of Anarchy” and Michele Boyd, Ted Michaels, Brett Sheridan, and Fernando Chien as great supporting characters.
- The Concept: You can get this show whether you play online or play games at all. At its base it’s just a person with a slightly unhealthy obsession trying to interact with a the world, both with those who share the obsession and those to whom it’s completely alien. We follow Felicia’s Cyd Sherman from her closeted socially awkward start, to her attempts to shed her awkardness, and finally we come back to her accepting who she is, who her friends are, and where she is in life. I can’t think of a season or episode I don’t like, even as the budgets increased and premises expanded it remains relatable and actually tracks, broadly, Felicia’s progress from shut-in gamer to an industry outsider-insider.
- The Impact: Reading Felicia’s book made me realize how fast the internet world has changed. When I was watching the show YouTube was a place for cat videos and to find low-res versions of British TV shows not available in the US. I still had a MySpace account. Twitter wasn’t even a word most of us knew. This was one of the first big shows to make internet-based entertainment a phenomenon. It took a niche topic, released it on a niche medium, and had widespread impact. Felicia was able to launch her Geek and Sundry due to its success and many other online-only YoutTube shows followed in its wake. While it wasn’t the first and only (ONLY Tanith has the first and only…big ups to my 40k homies…) it was one of the avant garde pioneers and showed that YouTube shows could have narratives, productions, and concepts to rival TV. Look at YouTube now and you’ll see the legacy of Felicia Day’s Guild on countless channels covering countless topics.
In many ways internet personalities, those who Felicia describes as “situationally famous,” are more “personal” than other celebrities. Performers like Felicia, James Rolfe, Jim Sterling, and Joe Vargas invite us into their worlds, and in many cases literally into their homes, to entertain us. Because of this we feel we know them better and can relate to them in ways we can’t with TV, movie, and music celebrities. Media has changed and I now find I spend far more time using internet media than I do anything “conventional.” Felicia and those who joined her in the internet media revolution have really changed entertainment forever. So while people lament the derivative nature of TV show and movies I say you’re looking in the wrong place. There are great experiences out there waiting for you to “sha-like-ub-scribe” and will provide hours upon hours of unparalleled, unique entertainment.
Quite multi-talented, the cast released several songs related to The Guild. “Do You Want to Date My Avatar” is probably the most famous, and is a great pop song in addition to being a fun show tie-in.