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Video Games: The Movie Review
The documentary, Video Games: the Movie, delves into the details of the video game industry from its incredible history, to what video games have become, and where it looks like video games are going in the future. The film is the result of a successful Kickstarter campaign by Jeremy Snead, and it was so successful in the fundraising (funded by 179%) that it was able to get Sean Astin to narrate and the rights to include music from numerous video game scores. I’m one of those weirdos who greatly enjoys documentaries, especially on this topic as they aren’t many on video games. While most of Video Games: the Movie covered what I already knew, it was still entertaining and fun to revisit the topic and learn other tidbits I was most certainly not aware of (like the origin of the Xbox’s name and development).
As expected, the film first covered the industry’s history, starting with discussions on who created the first video game. While many historians and gamers credit the launch of video games to Nolan Bushnell, the documentary named Steve Russell as the true father of video games, as he developed Spacewar! on PDP machines in 1962. Now without a doubt, Nolan Bushnell and Atari were responsible for bringing video games into households in the late 70s/early 80s, taking the idea behind the Magnavox Odyssey and creating the first Atari home console.
Mario and Luigi and fans.
CliffyB... And nothing. Just CliffyB.
I’d say the rest is history, but there is plenty within that history that I didn’t know, such as the first epidemic of shovelware, Nintendo’s original ideals with their first video games, and why games have evolved as they did. The advances in technology seems like the obvious answer, but tit’s only part of the reason.
I’ve seen a couple of other documentaries on video games, and they all simply covered the history, which is interesting enough, but I was pleased that this one explored other areas that will appeal to gamers. For example, the film studied one of the more popular arguments amongst critics right now, and that’s whether video games can be considered art. They also examined the argument that video games cause violence--to which Tommy Tallarico of Video Games Live gave the best quote of the entire movie: “Hitler didn’t play Crash Bandicoot.”
And of course, the documentary would have been complete without a discussion of the phenomenon of gaming communities, starting from the original LAN parties to MMOs. Naturally, the topic rolled into e-sports, which has really captured the world by storm. I know that if someone told me five or ten years ago millions of people would fly all over the world to watch their favorite e-sports team, I would have laughed in that person’s face. It’s absolutely astounding how this new culture has taken off, and the documentary would not have been complete with it.
By far, one of the most fun aspects of watching the film is picking out all of the different games used in the clips, from the opening credits to all of the various samples Snead chose to illustrate his points. My husband and I both would call out the names of the games we saw flitting across the screen, which would immediately prompt us to tell stories about our first experiences with that game or our favorite tales about it.
Simply put, Video Games: the Movie is by far, the best video games documentary I have seen, and yes, I have seen more than two. It’s the only one I’ve seen that covered the culture behind gaming, including communities, how friendships and relationships are formed, and e-sports, as well as the history behind the industry. It’s also the first one to speculate on the future of video games, from changes in storytelling to the potential impact of virtual reality. This is a film that both documentary fans and video game fans can equally enjoy, and it’s definitely one that gamers should not miss.
Video Games: the Movie will be available via digital download starting on July 15, 2014. Certain theaters in the US and Canada will also present the film later in July.
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