Do you game? 40 years ago that question may have confused most people, if only for the grammatical nightmare it poses, but now in the 21st century we understand it to be call from one gamer to another in a cultural phenomenon that has taken hold since the later part of the previous century. This trend has attracted a great deal of interest and now executive producer Zach Braff has put together this insightful documentary, Video Games: The Movie, to explore how the craze began and how it has become an inexcusable part of our enduring culture.
The premise of the film is a simple one, a documentary that explores the multi-faceted history of the industry that followed on from its inception as narrated by Sean Astin of Lord of Rings fame. The concept is explored using a combination of amazing infographic-like text set against interviews from experts in the industry such as Rob Pardo – the CCO of Blizzard, and Reggie Fils-Aime – the President of Nintendo. The documentary goes further and also adds interviews from well known gamer celebrities such as Will Wheaton, Zach Braff and Donald Faison all of whom help to round off the experience by adding a more personal touch to the viewer.
Looking at the trailer we were anticipating that this would be something of a history lesson punctuated by clips of some of history’s most well known video games. However, this was not where the experience presented by this film ended. Indeed, this documentary did use this as a way to open the story they wanted to tell but also showing how culture has changed and been shaped by the new generations of gamers. This helps to flesh out the facts and figures we are shown earlier on to help give a more personal story showing how an amusement would go on to be one of the world’s biggest industries, spawning video game tournaments, MMORPG’s and some of the leading games which have become part of the public lexicon. It helps show the amazing way video games have developed since its humble beginnings to the powerhouse it has since become.
In terms of the geek factor on offer we have to admit that there is a lot of amazing things on offer that will appeal to gamers on multiple levels. Snippets of games are combined with interviews very well which will have everyone’s inner gamer geek feeling nostalgic and itching to turn on their console. The special insights provided by celebrities in the field help to add an extra level of nuance to Video Games: The Movie and give gamers a great deal of what they love. That said we have to acknowledge that if a viewer is not a big gamer then this may come across as something of a dry subject that could leave some viewers feeling cold.
Therein lies the fundamental issue which could plague a film like this. The documentary shows how the history of the industry has shaped our society and our interests, but gamers who love this series already know a great deal of information presented here. This presents the problem that if you already know how the history, then why would you want to watch a whole documentary showing it. However, watching the film as a gamer we have to admit that we were pulled in even knowing a lot of what was going on and we were still pleased with the end result. We just wouldn’t expect a documentary of this ones nature to be able to convert someone who isn’t already involved in this area. If however, there is even a slight interest in the video game industry then this film is essential viewing.
Altogether Video Games: The Movie is a well created documentary which combines a number of different elements which will please and thrill gamers from all walks of life. While it may not be recommended viewing for the uninitiated masses, it feels like it was lovingly crafted by industry leaders for their fans to show how their favourite games were born and how they continue to evolve in each new generation. This is a solid documentary that has a lot going for it, and we recommend it for any gamer looking to enjoy their interests in a new way.
Want a taste of things to come, take in the trailer below and see if this is the intellectual eye candy your inner gamer has been waiting for.