Film and TV

Video Game High School: Welcome to Me

There's a scene in Sixteen Candles where Anthony Michael Hall talks Molly Ringwald out of her panties so he can use them to win floppy disks in a bet. Now, I 'm perfectly aware that if you're under 30, less than a quarter of that sentence made even the slightest sense, but hold on, I'm getting there.

The reason I bring up John Hughes films is that there was this absolutely wonderful set of films in the '80s (And yes, there were a few in the '90s, too) that painted high school like it was feudal Europe and just made everything so damned important and epic. Hint: It wasn't, but the idea endures.

Freddie Wong and Matthew Arnold's Video Game High School takes the geeks and makes them gods...which they were always going to be because smart beats football 99 percent of the time. Here the process is just accelerated. The Web series just released its second episode and we'll be bringing you full coverage as we did during Mortal Kombat:Legacy.

See a pattern?

The series follows a poor kid named Brian D who is an average gamer in a world where video game news is important enough to interrupt a report on a missing president. He's beaten up, he makes do with crappy equipment and he keeps on trying.

Meanwhile, the big man on campus at Video Game High School -- he's called the Law -- drops in on a morning show to chat up models and randomly drop himself into amateur servers to show the TV audience how a real professional does it. The server he chooses is Brian's.

Games in VGHS are portrayed in dual realities. On one hand there is no doubt that these are in the end just kids sitting in front of their computers, and the real world is always relevant. On the other, playing the game puts you front and center as the star in a war shooter, fighting game, what have you.

Brian and his team in a first-person shooter are doing well until Brian is called away from the keyboard to let out the cat. Law makes his appearance just then and obliterates all of Brian's teammates. Seeing that Brian is incapacitated, Law sets up a trick shot involving a grenade, only for Brian to return just in time to humiliate Law on national television. The resulting media frenzy nets Brian an invitation to Video Game High School.

Here's where the John Hughes comes in. Brian is completely outclassed, accosted by bullies, snubbed by his popular girl crush Jenny Matrix and immediately saddled with two geeky sidekicks.

Nonetheless, he manages to hold his own, and even turns a malfunctioning keyboard into an ingenious weapon during a grudge match with his roommate's bully. Beating him leads to expulsion for the loser, and the Law threatens Brian with destruction after offering false advice in a taunt game of Neanderthal psychological warfare.

The production of the series is incredibly slick, and the acting is easily on the level of anything you'll see on network television. Brian Ferenzi's Law alone is worth the watch, as he owns every scene he's in.

In the end you've got what would happen if John Hughes had just watched Scott Pilgrim and was then asked to adapt Ender's Game. It's awkward, beautiful and brilliant, and it proves what we've always known. If geeks ever become the popular kids, they'll attack the weak same as anyone else. This time it's the motherboard jungle. Can't wait for next week! Here's Episodes 1 and 2 until then.

Video Game High School runs every Thurday on

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Jef Rouner (not cis, he/him) is a contributing writer who covers politics, pop culture, social justice, video games, and online behavior. He is often a professional annoyance to the ignorant and hurtful.
Contact: Jef Rouner