MMORPG: We were pretty excited to hear about "Die Noobs". Can you give us some background on the film and why you chose this subject to cover?
Erik: It seems a perfect time to talk about the scene, it’s huge, but relatively unknown beyond its walls. Some documentary subjects can be fads, the subject loses relevancy before the film can even be completed. eSports has history and staying power.
Last year, I was looking for a new documentary project, since I got my start in journalism and haven’t been back in years. Without knowing that, Zack e-mailed me about wanting to do a pro-gaming documentary, since he was getting into the scene. It was providence.
Zack: In 1998 I picked up a copy of Ultima Online. Quickly established a strong passion for killing noobs and MMO’s in general. Actually met Jason (my gaming partner in Die Noobs) while playing UO like 12 years ago. We still game together today. After a few beers last year I asked him if he wanted to go to a legit TBD gaming tournament with me and tear some sh*t up. Didn’t take long for us to realize we needed training from some bad-ass mother f*ckers in order to have any chance at winning.
Then we watched “Rocky” and shortly thereafter I was on the phone with Erik telling him about our game plan. A lot of people showed support and enthusiasm from day one, which has lead to many epic connections for us. We can’t wait to listen to “Eye of the Tiger” loudly while the best of the best unlock all the secrets to the universe in front of our eyes, man. We also plan on drinking a lot of beer during film production.
Our initial press release was picked up by over 100 media outlets and hundreds of people signed up to our launch list within the first few hours. Definitely encourages us to see that people actually want to see the film!
MMORPG: Tom Crabtree represents a growing number of atheletes who are also gamers. How did you get in touch with him and begin to talk games?
Erik: Zack and I are both huge Green Bay Packers fans being born and raised in Wisconsin, and when your displaced away from where you grew up, stuff like sports teams become a great link back there. So you follow the players on Twitter, add them on Facebook and feel a connection.
Tom’s not only hilarious and cool, but he’s also a gamer. He talks about it on his Facebook and Twitter all the time. But when we saw a picture of him on Facebook in a onsie talking about “dominating n00bs,” we knew he would love this project. Besides being into gaming, Tom’s a champion. He’s won a Super Bowl and plays on the biggest stage in sports. He’s going to be one of many trainers that will help Zack and Jason become pros.
A quick message to his awesome PR guy, Alex Tallitsch, with the teaser and a few other things and Tom was in. The project resonated with him right away.
MMORPG: What is the core message you want to send with the film? What type of audience do you see for the project?
Erik: While I think a lot of people in the scene will have an awesome time seeing this film, and there will be some talk about more hardcore strategy during the training, we really hope this film can help take eSports into the mainstream. When I told a lot of my colleagues, even some who play video games, about this project, they’d put “pro” in quotation marks or just say something about South Koreans. Guys like Tom Crabtree show that even football players are doing video games, this isn’t a bunch of neckbeards in a basement eating Doritos and drinking Moutain Dew: this is an awesome form of competition that anyone can appreciate and almost anyone can play.
The community itself is really well served by VODs, and is very tight nit, but having a hard time being accessible to a mainstream audience, who I think will love it once they understand it. So while we will search for a balance between serving the community we’re documenting, I like making films that I would want to see and we hope that more casual gamers like me, or even non-gamers, will find lots to enjoy.
Zack: I will never die.
MMORPG: How do you see professional game leagues growing over the next decade? It seems to be taking off quickly.
Erik: I think there’s a lot of parallels to be drawn between pro gaming and UFC. If the leagues, players and sport in general follows that formula, I think they’ll be broadcast on FOX or other network television stations in the next ten years.
MMORPG: What are some of your favorite games? Will you be discussing them in the film as well?
Erik: I’m a huge Bioware fanboy. Them and Zelda games I will buy the day they come out; otherwise new video games lose their value faster than new cars; I can wait for a price drop.
We probably won’t talk much about those, that’s almost another documentary entirely about choice, branching plots and the unique storytelling vehicle that is video games. No other medium is like it, in that regard, it really challenges and befuddles Marshall MacLuhan’s school of media crticism, it’s both hot and cold at the same time.
Zack: I want to level up in everything. Also, Zelda, UO, WOW, GW1+2, EQ, Diablo, Halo, COD, Starcraft, MARIO, Baldur's Gate, Age of Empires, Worms, Dota, LoL, Elder Scrolls, some Madden, Tiger Woods.
MMORPG: Will you be featuring MMOs in the project? They’re part of the growing eSports scene, though obviously less than say League of Legends of Starcraft 2.
Erik: We are going to focus a lot on Starcraft 2, since that’s the game Zack and Jason will be training for. World of Warcraft has a bit of a PvP presence in eSports, but I think it’s tough for a lot of MMOs to find footing in eSports because they often have a PvE element in the same system; there really isn’t anyone that’s figured out how to keep both those elements in harmony without imbalances or other problems occurring.
I’d love to talk The Old Republic, I’ve been playing that since beta and am still a subscriber and MMOs are a huge part of the industry, we’d be doing our audience a huge disservice by not bringing them up at all.
Zack: Expect to hear epic Ultima Online, Dota and World of Warcraft memories from Jason & I.
MMORPG: Can you tell us the time frame for the project? When can we expect a release?
Erik: Zack keeps tell people we’ll have something out by Winter 2013/2014, and I keep telling him there’s no way we’ll have everything done by then! It’s the typical back and forth between the creative side and the logistical side. We’re going to put out some digital shorts and promos throughout 2013, for sure, but we’re still battling on when the feature film proper will be done and ready for screening, festivals and hopefully a theatrical release.
Zack: Woo! DIE NOOBS!