The coming-of-age esports story of ‘Disjoint’

This senior thesis aims to be the first of its kind, a special task taken on by senior cinema and media arts major Jalen Sur.

Chris Charpentier, Staff Writer

In an era where esports are becoming more commonplace around the world, senior cinema and media arts major Jalen Sur aims to be the first coming-of-age esports story with his senior thesis, “Disjoint.” With the help of co-writer junior cinema and media arts major Noel Sassoon and producer senior cinema and media arts major Hannah Stockinger, Disjoint is a story about a boy finding community within the late-2000s Super Smash Bros. Melee scene. 

“MELEE IS SICK”

Sur explained that this project illuminates the expression of esports as art rather than just a video game.

“I think competitive gaming is a beautiful form of self-expression that is really underappreciated,” Sur stated. “Personalities reflect playstyle.”

Much of this philosophy was channeled into the writing process for “Disjoint,” often focusing on character personality types and how that is reflected in their playstyles.

“Jalen provided me with the descriptions of the characters, who they were and what their Smash characters were,” Sassoon noted. “It was super fun to be able to play around with these characters and come up with specific scenes and specific interactions for them.”

It helped that this story was new for everyone involved. While there have been documentaries regarding the Smash community, such as “The Smash Brothers,” there are not any narrative films that attempt a coming-of-age story within the esports community.

“I am drawn to and appreciate very much an attempt at originality when it comes to premise,” Stockinger said. “I think that a coming-of-age story in video game culture in the early 2000s is not something that has really been touched on in media and film.”

A LOVE LETTER

The one constant throughout all the interviews regarding “Disjoint” is how much love everyone had for the subject matter and what this film could represent for people. For many people in the gaming community, this hobby stands as a safe place and outlet for expressing oneself. 

“What Jalen touched on in this story is that it really was a lifeline for some kids and a lifestyle and it was a place of belonging for kids,” Stockinger said.

For Jalen especially, video games were as much of an after school activity similar to going to basketball practice. Whether it be the grassroots origins of the Melee community or the creativity that can be expressed within gaming, Sur has a lot to communicate within this film.

“I want the film to absolutely decimate that stigma about gaming being immature or gaming not being social,” Jalen said.

When it came to brainstorming during the writing process, Sassoon and Sur really channeled the idea that Melee has endured for so long and how its growth in the esports community reflected the coming-of-age story they wanted to tell. For that reason, “Disjoint” makes a strong effort to communicate how important stories like this can be.

“I hope that people can know that gaming can teach you how to be yourself,” Sassoon said. “It can teach you how to find something that you love and to apply it to real life.”

“Disjoint” was shot this past week and is now in the post-production process. While a release date has not been announced yet, a full trailer was released today.

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