If you've ever been in an online game, you've probably watched two barely literate guys duke it out using the chat functions. The typical lame insults are usually thrown around. One guy is a pussy. One guy's mother is a whore. It's basically a nerds' table slap fight moved from the high school cafeteria to the Internet.
If you've seen that, then Little Gamers will seem familiar. The strip often reads like one of those geek battles, complete with the requisite "STFUs", "LOLs", missing punctuation and the teenage comedy law that it's funny (for some reason) when someone or something is gay.
The creators, Christian Fundin and Pontus Madsen, have a habit of using their site to vent and to rally their Internet troops. The current news post singles out someone who has imitated their art style for fanboy malevolence. "Please flame this idiot .. if you have nothing better to do that is :)", Madsen writes. There have been other targets in the past, and the strips, too, have sometimes had similar goals.
Other strips feature humor in the "dude" sub-genre. As in: Dude, I'm addicted to this game. Dude, he totally killed that guy. Dude, ninjas are sweet. Games figure heavily, of course, but the jokes are timeless "dude" jokes.
The art is done in an extremely basic rounded style with solid lines and no shading or midtones, except in rare color strips. A curved line marks the only difference between the characters Marcus and Madsen. With their bowling ball heads and dot eyes, the character designs are almost identical to PlayMobil figures, which is why it's a bit ironic that Fundin and Madsen defend their style so vehemently.
The "cute" character designs and the name, Little Gamers — which sounds sappy for a strip that involves regular bouts of violence — are probably meant to be sarcastic. Put together with the frequent use of IRC and forum expressions like "wtf", "fsck", "pron", etc, though, the total style gives the strip a slapdash, half-hearted feel, like a one line forum post with no capital letters and three actual English words.
Somehow, though, this combination of mostly bad elements turns out to be just right. It may be that the strip is so lo-fi that it brushes anarchic appeal. Like a punk song, the lack of polish may be the point. They're sending a message, and it's not a love note. Teenage boys eat this stuff up like Pac-Man on Tic Tacs. If links and mention are any indication, Fundin and Madsen have a huge fan base. They've struck a nerve, and God help us.
When a strip is published as an insult, as a forum flame, every criticism you can level against it crumbles in your hands. The only applicable measure of its quality is the way that it affects its audience, and, by that standard, Little Gamers is a roaring success. If you spend your nights playing games and insulting your friends, you'll probably love this webcomic… unless you've had your fill of slap fights.
Michael Whitney is a staff contributor for the Comixpedia.