Of Ruin and Revolution: How #GameBoysTheSeries entered the chat and r̶e̶d̶e̶f̶i̶n̶e̶d̶ CREATED its own BL Landscape 🎮

We usually remember films, series and stories like this: the good, the terrible, the mediocre, the excellent, and those that stay with us for life.

Gameboys is the kind of BL series that carves a BEFORE and AFTER benchmark in the mind: WE KNOW WE'LL NEVER BE THE SAME AGAIN.
In 2020 BLs have no doubt peaked in terms of infiltrating mainstream popularity and that's fantastic news not just for BL fans but the LGBTQ+ community first and foremost.

So many people are being introduced to the vibrance and fun of BLs and becoming more open and accepting.
As a long time fan however, it felt like one of the scariest eras for me.

BLs this year, for the most part, were still enjoyable. But it started feeling like...going through the motions.

Formulaic. Predictable. STAGNANT.

Nothing felt POWERFUL enough to PROVOKE analysis.
Calm down: I know we're here to watch BLs simply because we enjoy the content, not to attend a filmmaking class. I know majority of bl stan twt thinks it's a waste of time to analyze the technicalities of what makes a show beautiful.

It didn't just come at the right time; the hearts of its creators are also in the right place.

Executive Directors @percinotpercy and @junrobleslana referred to the BL community as an ECOSYSTEM where the fandom and creators learns and grows from each others' ideas and response.
GAMEBOYS is an INTELLIGENT show that drives INTELLIGENT discourse about the genre.

BL series are aimed towards normalizing gay relationships in society, and Gameboys did that too, but more than anything else, it normalizes HEALTHY AND POSITIVE CONVERSATIONS ABOUT STORYTELLING.
GAMEBOYS might be the very first BL series that harnessed the true power of FANDOM.

BL series are usually very appreciative of its fans but GAMEBOYS didn't stop at that. They elevated us to INVOLVEMENT.

This was a journey where everyone felt they're INCLUDED, SEEN AND HEARD.
This is crucial because GAMEBOYS is such a brilliant model of GRASS ROOTS promotion.

Challenge: Name one BL series that came out this year that launched WITHOUT an official trailer.

That's right: only GAMEBOYS which premiered its first episode OUT OF NOWHERE on MAY 22, 2020.
Not only did it have the audacity to launch its offering without heavy marketing / online promotion except for a handful of tweets and website articles, it actually DELIVERED and really gave us the STRONGEST BL SERIES PILOT EPISODE OF 2020 so far.

#GameBoysEp1 is literally a long-time BL fan's DREAM: A fresh concept, confident no-holds-barred storytelling, insanely creative yet still relevant world-building and direction, crisp and cheeky editing, delicious pacing, and actors with SKILLS as heavyweight as their CHARISMA.
2020 marked the return of the MULTI-COUPLE format trend in BLs and nearly every series features 937374894 characters. That's not exactly a bad thing, but for people with exactly 2 1/2 brain cells and .02 sec. average attention span like me, first episodes can be OVERWHELMING.
And that's how GAMEBOYS stole 2020: it UNDERSTOOD that you don't really always need a MULTI cast of characters, sometimes all you need are ENOUGH characters that have MULTI-LAYERS OF COMPLEXITY.

Pitch perfect dialogue + actors who can flawlessly execute them = UNBEATABLE.
A series can only maximize its power if it UNDERSTANDS what makes it powerful. GAMEBOYS is a show brimming with so much AWARENESS of its identity, its many strengths and its message.

The WRITING, DIRECTING and ACTING all gravitated towards the heart of it all: THE CHARACTERS.
GAMEBOYS was born at a time when the world couldn't afford the luxury of what many BLs has taken for granted as a lifeblood: SKINSHIP.

Instead of a handicap, @ashmalanum took it as a challenge to really flesh out the components of INTIMACY and what makes a VIRTUAL ROMANCE alive.
This series is blessed because @ashmalanum is a contemporary poet of culture: he has incredible proficiency with internet-speak, writes provocative yet WOKE lines for flirty banter, and incorporates such clever political undertones on his universally-palatable sense of humor.
Instead of traditional dining we get pizza delivery virtual dates. Instead of usual love advices we get online horoscope and romantic calculators. Instead of cliche new character intros we get a livestream 1v1 match request. Instead of love declarations we get username reveals.
There are glimpses of underrated brilliance which shows RESEARCH was done even in the littlest details, like this scene where Cairo suggested playing Dark Souls 1 upon Terrence's invite to play.

That game was one of the MOST DIFFICULT, INFURIATING games for hardcore gamers. 😂
That scene was HILARIOUS because even prior to watching Gameboys, I distinctly remember my brother (who's a hardcore gamer) complaining about that game.

According to him in gamer-speak, the levels go like: Easy, Moderate, Difficult, Hard, DARK SOULS. That's how MAD Cairo was. 😂
The greatest triumph of Gameboys' writing is how it gave us perhaps one of the MOST MEMORABLE ENSEMBLE OF CHARACTERS ever. Their personalities are unconventional without straying away from realism; they're UNIQUE while still heartbreakingly RESEMBLING and REPRESENTING all of us.
Most impressive of all, the show has tackled SO MANY themes while never losing sight of its MOST POWERFUL VILLAIN throughout its 13 episode run.

The mark of an incredible writing is when the battles and monsters are INVISIBLE and yet very DEVASTATINGLY TANGIBLE in every scene.
With no intention to diminish the vast horizons of his astounding creative imagination, I just want to express how happy it makes me that a member of the LGBTQ+ community was finally granted the spotlight to tell the BL story they DREAMT of telling.

Thank you @ashmalanum♥️
One of the most important things GAMEBOYS has also made me realize is how CHEMISTRY in BL shouldn't just be limited to its actors.

Chemistry between WRITER and DIRECTOR is just as IMPORTANT.

And Ivan Andrew Payawal captured Ash Malanum's story with surgical PRECISION and MAGIC.
I can't even begin to imagine how STRESSFUL it must've been to lead a project where you have to present a CREDIBLE love story in a genre infamous for relying on skinship WITHOUT your actors being physically together for 90% of the series.

And yet Ivan Andrew Payawal DELIVERED.
GAMEBOYS is a very CHARACTERS-CENTRIC and DIALOGUE-HEAVY show which meant the show is, in a nutshell, purely just a string of CONVERSATIONS.

And yet IAP didn't just manage to keep us on our toes every scene; he really gave us the most GRIPPING and SUSPENSEFUL BL of the year.
IAP understands the art of CLIFFHANGERS extremely well. Where other BLs would have to rely on downplaying several scenes to preserve the shock at the end of an episode, IAP makes sure that ALL episodes are a COMPLETE BALANCE of drama and humor and romance to keep us invested.
He doesn't believe in wasted airtime; every scene is condensed with ACTION, NUANCE and MEANING. I have never seen a BL where a catfight over zoom call has as much TENSION as a courtroom drama. You hold your breath from start to finish, hanging on every line, bracing for impact.
On top of that, I'm so in love with how @theideafirst_co INTENTIONALLY refuses to put PREVIEWS for next episodes.

1.) Because it INTENSIFIES the craving for what's next 2.) It brilliantly invites the audience to FOCUS and DWELL on what transpired on the current week's episode.
A director in a typical film setting is bound only by the parameters of the script but Ivan Andrew Payawal had far more struggles to deal with: 1.) his actors are not with him 2.) the locations are limited to the actors' houses 3.) he can't physically maneuver their camerawork.
So how should a director exude RESOURCEFULNESS at an environment where everything is literally out of his reach? He utilized the limitations to COMPLEMENT THE PERSONALITIES of the characters in the story.

Look at this scene from Episode 9 affirming the clips shown on Episode 1.
Gavreel's OUTGOING personality was made even more visible during moments when he's having misunderstandings with Cairo.

It's brilliant how his scenes are always shot at the EXTERIOR of his house when he's experiencing extreme emotions such as anxiety, worry and anger.
On the other hand, Cairo's INTROVERTED, more reserved side is always highlighted whenever he's struggling with feelings of DOUBT about Gavreel's feelings. He is always at this particular spot at the foot of the stairs, as if symbolizing how cornered and how small he feels.
With its groundbreaking format, GAMEBOYS brought the power of EDITING to the forefront and made us all appreciate its importance. When was the last time we've been dazzled about editing in a BL?

Kristian Palma and Jay Mauricio are absolute LEGENDS.
I cannot even begin to imagine how much of a NIGHTMARE it is to edit every zoom conversation scene; it's like they are constructing a verbal tennis match frame by frame.

Production Designer @nestorabrogena did such a TERRIFIC job transforming Elijah's bare room into the colorful chaos that is Cairo's space. Every piece of prop is so ICONIC that it fostered an attachment to us as spectators, leaving us heartbroken as Cairo's room emptied slowly.
I am constantly blown away when I think of how @nestorabrogena managed to build all of this awesomeness from scratch THROUGH REMOTELY INSTRUCTING THE ACTORS ON ZOOM.

The stuff they did in SELF SUFFICIENCY while still being grounded in TEAMWORK deserves to be in HISTORY BOOKS.
Sitcom-ish sound effects in BLs sometimes come off as tacky and Gameboys managed to become a much more sophisticated standout through its EXCELLENT SOUND DESIGN.

One of my personal favorites is the heavy BASS GUITAR RIFFS whenever threats of rivalry is happening in the scene. 😂
That's also one of the most impressive things about GAMEBOYS: the progression of conflicts unfolding each episode was SEAMLESS. Despite the extensions, IAP has managed to make it look so ORGANIC.

Look at how the TREATMENT and SOUND DESIGN in this Ep3 scene foreshadowed Ep7.
IAP knows how crucial it is for a love story to be accompanied by an amazing soundtrack. @EmerzonTexon's STELLAR MUSIC added so much DEPTH to an already wonderful tale, and IAP honored those songs by keeping the SUBTITLES on for the poetic lyrics in the most PIVOTAL moments.
It's INCREDIBLY SATISFYING to hear this lyric, underscored by the words printed on the screen; a PERFECT statement of TRIUMPH, declaring that the time to liberate love in all its glory has come.

It's NEXT LEVEL EUPHORIA when you realize this is being subbed in MANY LANGUAGES.
One thing I'm obsessed with is when Directors know WHEN to take risks and DEVIATE from the script. This generous trivia by the amazing Creative Consultant @elmstweeet really proved how Ivan Andrew Payawal knows the RIGHT TIMING of when to FLEX THE EXCELLENCE of his actors.
We've seen it teased during the prolonged wordless scene in Ep9, and Ep 10 sealed the deal: Kokoy and Elijah can practically tell novels and poetry through their eyes.

Best of all, saving the removal of masks for later MAGNIFIED THE CLIMAX AND POWER OF THE EPISODE 10 FIRST KISS.
In March 2018, IAP directed a rom-com entitled "Ang Pambansang ThirdWheel"

A specific scene in that film made me remember that a director's TRADEMARK speaks of the statement they're making, and GAMEBOYS was Ivan Andrew Payawal's way of RECLAIMING LOVE STORIES for his community.
In GAMEBOYS, Ivan Andrew Payawal reclaimed that scene THRICE: once in the stark heat of noonday, twice in the soft, golden glow of sunset.

This is him showing how LGBTQIA+ love isn't just about meeting each other halfway; it's also INHABITING spaces of COURAGE and ACCEPTANCE.
In a country where same-sex marriage still hasn't been legalized and where 99% of TV shows end with het weddings, GAMEBOYS has given the community the closest thing to a walk in the aisle and lifting of the veil.

Because LOVE will always be LOVE, in sickness and in health. ♥️
Because this thread is now too long and the GAMEBOYS characters/artists are too phenomenal and deserve their OWN thread:

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