Non-fiction Weekend - Video Games: The Movie

Video Games: The Movie

For Non-fiction Weekend, Nate McKenzie swaps the computer screen for the TV screen and watches Video Games: The Movie...

For anyone who grew up playing video games Video Games: The Movie is necessary viewing. The documentary is a history lesson on the birth and growth of the video game movement. Narrated by Sean Astin, Video Games interviews industry elite and famous nerds about their experiences with video games and illustrates how a once esoteric experience blossomed into a mainstream powerhouse industry. Chris Hardwick, Alison Haislip, Chloe Dykstra, Zach Braff and, of course, Wil Wheaton all appear to share their memories of playing games as children.

The most notable appearance of a person from the industry elite is set-up by the question posed to the interviewees (and random game convention attendees), "Who is the father of video games?": Nolan Bushnell, the founder of Atari. Seeing Bushnell speak on who he personally was inspired by is a revelation for casual and serious gamers.

I was happy to see the inclusion of Ernest Cline in the discussions as well. As the author of Ready Player One - a fantasy novel set in the future that revolves around a virtual reality video game - Cline has a very unique vision for the future of video games. As a huge fan of the book (seriously, read it) I was happy to hear his take on video games as a fan and as a visionary.

Writer and Director Jeremy Snead does a terrific job of ushering the viewer through the timeline of video games progression. Although, after the initial A to Z, the narration tends to jump a bit around to different points to illustrate different virtues of the industry and points of interest. In the beginning the narration gets into facts and percentages relating to gaming, and a little bit later gets a bit technical while explaining how video games appear on a screen, but those facets are succinct and informative and the narrative gets right back into the philosophy of gaming.

Video Games: The Movie

Though the run-time is perhaps longer than need be, the 135 minutes is used to explore almost all manner of discussions involving the industry. The "holy war" between consoles, games as art, even the eternal debate over whether or not video games cause violence; all areas have their moment in a very thorough investigation. Anyone familiar with gaming also knows the story of the ill-fated E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial adventure game for Atari and Video Games; The Movie spends some time illustrating how that particular failure almost collapsed the entire industry.

When a quote from Gandhi came into focus on the screen at the beginning of the documentary I was put-off. I thought that the filmmaker was going to attempt an existential exploration via the doc medium. Another documentary, Indie Games did just that but toed the line expertly. In the end, Snead, and those interviewed, likewise did a virtuous job and really painted a comprehensive picture of the history, the culture, the impact, and the future of video games. Along with the myriad of clips from classic and modern games mixed perfectly with the iconic sounds from those games of the past, this documentary is as much pure entertainment as it is informative history lesson.

Image - IMDb.