First up, some disclosure: This series, My Guild Leader Is A Demon is made by a friend of mine, 0xabad1dea. While I know I’m in the dedication of one of her books, I don’t think I’ve had any influence or involvement in this project, and I’ve not been paid for this piece.
There is potential that she might implement/reject some ideas I mention here, as the series is ongoing, but as far as I know, no such thing is expected to happen. Basically, if I say something here and it winds up being true in this series, assume 0xabad1dea was going to do it anyway.
My Guild Leader Is A Demon is a web-series/kinetic novel. There’s some consideration on my part as to whether to treat kinetic novels – storytelling which has no major interaction beyond ‘keep going’ – as a series or a videogame. In this case, 0xabad1dea has taken a full play of the game and put it up on Youtube, where you can watch it as a single video. Here’s part one:
And here’s part two:
I thought for a little bit about doing a deep dive on characters and characterisation but I thought it might be a bit unnecessary at this point. After all, most of these characters are just fledgelings in the narrative – while there’s a lot of time spent with them, the cast is big enough and varied enough that they all have room to grow and show things about themselves. Rather than go in on things like character theming and greater narrative – because this is a pretty slow-boil story – I figure I’d just give some bullet points of things I liked:
- The story has invoked pride and lust as possible sins for demons, but never confirmed that it uses the Catholic 7.
- The parents are trying, but slightly incompetent.
- The demons are explicitly invisible things that the kids talk to and have to explain their world to, making them a potent lens for the inner life.
- There are interface jokes; characters spamming commands or sudden font size changes, use of button sounds or game sounds to form part of the narrative.
- There are a lot of characters, so it’ll be probably pretty easy for you to find someone who’s like you/feels right to you.
- The characters are Definitely Internet Gamers – they’re rude and churlish and passively cruel to one another, because that’s what they’ve got to learn from.
The story isn’t done; the story is also big by all accounts; there’s a lot of interpersonal slow-boil stuff but not much in the way of a central challenge or plot arc, suggesting to me this story fits in your category of Webcomic Being; the story is something you take part of to exist in, rather than something you’re following to see how and where it goes.
If you know me as an academic, honestly, My Guild Leader Is A Demon is kind of almost too perfect an example. It’s work created by a singular auteur about marginalised and queer individuals with a religious backdrop and uses games and identity within them as fundamental storytelling devices. It’s a story using a game to tell you a story using games. C’mon. I will almost certainly be showing it to a class at some point going forward. There’s layers of the ideology and importance of the creator to the work here, and the tools used to tell the story are also super interesting.
0xabad1dea is an author – she’s written classical, typical fiction books (and papers, and songs, and robots, and other videogames, and – look, she does a lot of stuff), but as far as I know this is her first use of a videogame engine. What she’s done with it here is using the form of a renpy-engine visual novel to make, well, a TV series, with nearly hour-long episodes.
What I want to highlight here is that if you wanted to make your own BBC-style hour-long-episode drama show, as a solo project, the opportunity to do so is simply not there. That is a ridiculous degree of work across a host of disciplines. 0xabad1dea had to make the backgrounds, the character designs, the music, the sound effects, the plot, and its structure, then do blocking and direction for the whole thing. What’s more, everything in this has to be something she made; in a tv show, you can have an extra who literally is a person who exists, just walk on by in the background. If you’re doing this kind of story, you’re kind of committing to generating every resource yourself, so they all fit your style. Rough stuff, right there.
Still, the fact that this sort of creative endeavour is even a little bit feasible is amazing! That 0xabad1dea turned out two episodes so quickly is also really cool, too. This is one of those projects where I’d point people to it and show them as an example of you can do the thing. You can make things like this, and they’re good, and cool.
It’s also about games: It’s about games as a platform that people can approach reasonably and fairly. The demons play games and they follow the rules; they do not express discontent with the rules of the games, but with the players. That’s super interesting to me – and it means that thankfully, this story is avoiding one of the most obnoxious types of gamer archetypes: The amateur designer. Even Bethlehem, a girl who clearly thinks of herself as Very Smart, tends to make her excuses and rationale for failures and loss about player behaviour. When she’s berating Sammers, she uses social cues.
This is all very interesting to me. It’s interesting to see this story about games that’s actually about people.
I look forward to seeing more and I hope this little conversation has given you reason to check it out.