I stated a while ago that all good virtual worlds documentaries originate from the European area, I believe the same goes for films about ‘virtual worlds’ and MMORPGs. I’m a liar, you say? No. For starters, the USA does not have a film about such a topic yet. We do. Belgian Nic Baltazar wrote and directed ‘Ben X’, a movie in which you will not find an obsessive amount of guns, drugs and plastic surgery, but a compelling story that tells itself in ‘real life’ as well as the virtual world.
Ben is different. Ben is an autistic teenager and an easy target for bullying. To counter his weakness, he escapes into an online fantasy universe where his heroic avatar - Ben X - spends hours immersed in a popular video game. And that’s where he meets Scarlite, a female warrior avatar to whom he swears they’ll never fight a battle alone. So, yes, there is some virtual blood. ;)
The bullying does not stop. Ben agrees to meet the pretty Scarlite (her facebook page). Best of all: Ben’s online persona & Scarlite give him the bravery needed to start ‘a real life mission’. If that one ends well and Ben gets to level up, well, I’m not going to ruin the movie experience. ;)
The ‘popular video game’ chosen for Ben X is surprisingly not World of Warcraft, but Archlord: “Thousand of Challenges, One Archlord, Zero Fees”. (Yeah, I love the tagline.) Now, talking about a great way to boost user signups? ;)
This is a film worth watching for all that are dead tired of stereotypes like CSI’s ‘murder over virtual sword’. Ben X has a different angle on looking at ‘real & virtual persona’ and both the real life imagery and the Archlord machinima are stunning. Only one problem, there are no ‘Ben X’ DVD’s with English subtitles available. This means you either brush up on your Dutch or French, wait until March 10, 2009 or hope the remake ever happens. Maybe that leaves one solution still, but that’s up to you to decide. Oh, if you can understand/read Dutch or read French, I might consider lending you my copy!