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The Guild: The Official Companion – Review

by Frederick Johnson

If you’re reading this review, then chances are you’ve heard of The Guild. The show premiered on Youtube in July of 2007, and has seen nothing but rising success since its release. Exclusively a free- to-view web series, The Guild focuses on the lives of all the member of ‘The Knights of Good’, a guild that operates within a fictional, massively-multi-player online RPG known simply as, “The Game.” The show was really the first of its kind. Never before had a show been so focused on the lives of MMO gamers. The most impressive part of the show’s success has to be that huge successful web series’ were not much of a thing before The Guild ran with it. Since then, it has inspired many other web series and helped to lay the ground for other similar shows.

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The Guild: The Official Companion – Review

This article isn’t about The Guild though, it’s about the upcoming official companion book to the show. Very accurately titled, The Guild: The Official Companion. It brings you behind the scenes of the famous web series with all kinds of interviews and content. After six seasons spanning an equal six years, you know there is plenty to be said about what’s been going on behind the curtain. Coming in at a more than reasonable 160 pages, it’s certainly an interesting read for any fan of the show. It comes with interviews from all of the actors, some of the production and design staff, and of course a hefty portion of the writing is from the point of view of Felicia Day. Considering she is the main character, writer, and just about everything else on the show, this seems more than fair.

It was definitely interesting to get to read about all of the struggles that came with trying to put the show together. Felicia Day’s portions are long, detailed, and are written as if she was speaking the words herself. That is one thing the book doesn’t exceptionally well, give every person their own voice. When you’re reading a section written from the point of view of Zaboo’s real life counterpart, Sandeep, you can feel his personality coming through the page. This does a great job making the book feel personal, from all of the characters we’re familiar with.

There is a downside to this however, as it can sometimes become confusing to read. Reiterations of the same point multiple times verbatim back to back may not seem odd when talking to someone, but is strange to see on the written page. As well as certain phrasing that, vocally would be a quirky violation of English, instead becomes dissorienting as you try to grasp the poorly structured sentences. The problem with everything being written as if someone was speaking it, is that some things just don’t translate well into the stricter realm of writing, where a misused word seems more like a typo than an endearing flourish.

Another frustration is that some members of the cast didn’t seem to be very interested in the interviews. Robin Thorsen, who plays Clara, in particular seems to be fond of short, boring responses. Amy Okuda, better known as Tinkerballa, also has this issue, but to a lesser degree. At least Amy’s interviews reflect an interesting contrast between her complete disinterest in gaming and her participation in the show. It’s sad that, while Felicia Day is most of the reading, the other two main actresses seem so poorly represented in the book. Sandeep takes the show when it comes to people who are not Felicia Day, and I’m starting to believe he may just actually be Zaboo in real life.

The book is filled with all sorts of screen caps and behind the scenes pictures from the making of The Guild.It is undeniably fun to see the cast all done-up in costume, but just hanging about nonchalantly. In particular, there is a photo of Sandeep sleeping on a couch as they make it through a long day of shooting, that makes the book especially endearing. These great clips from the world of making The Guild do a great job of showing you what the interviews can’t. Sure Felicia Day can tell me that they worked long hours, but Zaboo passed out on a couch while everyone is hustling around him, sure hits the idea home.

Throughout the book, breaking up all of the general interview stuff, are little snippets of input from different team members that didn’t fit in anywhere else. Things like, Felicia Day talking about Dr. Horrible’s Sing Along Blog, and Greg Aronowitz talking about designing and making the props for the show. There are fun little breaks from the black on white interviews, that still help give you a deeper look into the show. I really enjoyed hearing about things that were still interesting, like the avatars weapons, but not really worth dedicating a lot of time to. These are often accompanied by photos, but it bother me how regularly the photos didn’t directly pertain to what was being said. Aronowitz was talking about Tinkerballa’s underwater bow, but beside it there was a picture of her traditional bow, not the bow he was actually talking about.

Despite it’s issues, The Guild: The Official Companion is totally worth picking up if you like the show. It’s filled with all sorts of insight that is truly interesting to read. They go through and discuss every season, as well as interview every major cast and crew member. There are even codes to scan that will take you directly to online content. It’s not a masterpiece, but neither was The Guild. Just like the show, it seems like something that was put together by a group of friends who loved doing what they do, and that makes it worth your time.

 

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