‘Dead Pixels’ – When the virtual world eclipses real life
They may not function all that well in reality but the video gamers in “Dead Pixels” are titans of their virtual world.
Premiering Tuesday, Aug. 18, on The CW, the half-hour comedy from the U.K. and writer/creator Jon Brown (“Succession,” “Veep”) follows the daily lives – real and online – of three gamer pals: Meg (Alexa Davies, “Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again”), an office worker who has no qualms about leaving a date to help defend a burning castle; Nicky (Will Merrick, “Poldark”), a fellow office drone and uber-devoted gamer; and Usman (Sargon Yelda, “Strike”), a stay-at-home dad who made a plywood lid for his child’s playpen so he can game in peace.
All three have things missing in their lives and themselves that they find in varying degrees in the world of “Kingdom Scrolls,” an online fantasy game. And their avatars are expressions of how they see themselves – or how they want to see themselves.
In Meg’s case, that character is Greta, a muscular hunchback and fearless warrior.
“I think it’s across all games, really, just that feeling of … inadequacy in real life that is then kind of remedied by getting to step into this other world and be, in Meg’s case, a hunchback who can clobber anything to death and feel what she likes,” Davies says with a laugh. “Meg’s avatar, Greta, just is kind of covered in armor and is just the definite kind of aggressive front which translates into her real life as well and there’s a real kind of need to display a very strong exterior.”
Nicky occupies a character named Moric the Unwavering, which Merrick explains is the antithesis of Nicky’s inadequate, retiring self.
“I had a real clear idea in my head that Nicky would be a very different person himself, almost a different personality when he was playing the game,” the British actor says. “He’s really vocal, he’s really chatty, he’s very dry and sarcastic but he has a wit and he has a sense of humor. And then as soon as he leaves that world and goes into work or goes into a more social real world environment, he really recedes and becomes very quiet and muted and keeps to himself and keeps his head down.”
“I think like Meg and Nicky and Usman, they’re a pretty big deal in ‘Kingdom Scrolls,’ ” he continues, “I guess you’d call them (three) of the elders. They’ve been around and people look up to them in the game. They’re high level, they’re dangerous and they get stuff done, so I think that he’s a totally different guy away from the monitor.”
Both actors say Meg and Nicky are indispensable to each other and likely wouldn’t be playing the game if it weren’t for the other. But as to whether that could lead to romance, Davies was noncommittal.
“There are moments there where you think: will they, won’t they?” she says. “But I don’t know if they ever will because at the same time I feel this kind of like brotherly/sisterly vibe. But on top of everything, I think they really kind of compete with each other in the game and also in real life. There is a need to always better the other.”