Cinema-Maniac: Video Games: The Movie (2014) Review

When it comes to video games there’s various things I love about the industry from Atlus (specifically their Persona and Shin Megami Tensei series), Nintendo, Naughty Dog, and Hideo Kojima. There is also many things I absolutely loathe in the certain direction it’s taking from EA, Ubisoft, always online drm, and the pay to play model. It’s this general uncertainty about the industry that I rarely ever write about videogames or devote as much attention to them as I once used too. So when something simply called “Video Game: The Movie” is direct to the point of course I would see it since it’s history is one aspect I’ve held an interest towards. Sadly the film is only partially about videogames history which it does rather poorly in explaining certain contributions and when it comes right down to it this film just glorifies its culture.

Video Games: The Movie aims to educate audiences about how video games are made, marketed, and consumed by looking back at gaming history and culture through the eyes of game developers, publishers, and consumers. In the early goings of the documentary the slick plethora of animated infographics and an effective opening-credits sequence that details the evolution of games over time shows promise. Slowly explaining certain aspects like graphic bits and statistics on the average gamer. For the first eight minutes the presentation is slick and focused, but then as it progresses it’s made clear there’s no directed goal. This documentary biggest issue is in it structure. In the beginning the documentary looks at the history of videogames and makes it first fatal mistake of giving rushed summarization of significant contributions. In some cases overlooking some achievements from certain consoles. For example, it fails to mention the Sega’s Dreamcast contribution towards the industry for being the first home console to include a built-in modem, the first home console to support online gaming, and the first home console to support an MMORPG. If a non fully committed gamer like myself knows that fact without ever touching a Dreamcast console what makes you think this documentary will do a proper job of providing insight on videogames history. If removing quotes from Retamas Gandhi, Nicolas Tesla, and John F. Kennedy (who loved JFK: Reloaded) what the documentary aimed to achieve remains muddle. Over sighting important information causally in order to use to lesser effect later on. By not following a nonlinear format in its presentation of videogames history aspects of it will be loss to non-gamers coming across as shallow. How it presents it history will cause confusion in its constant jump from years to years. Poorly getting across what the technological differences from a Nintendo NES to a Sony’s Playstation among other things. The insights provided can be sometime insightful, but are too often glib and come at the expense of the film relaying the events at hand to the viewer. For example, you could come away from the section on game violence with no knowledge that the fight made it all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.

If the documentary aimed to be one thing there wouldn’t be this full length review criticizing it. Unfortunately since it attempts to highlight certain aspects of videogame culture its aimed is bigger than what it grasped. Once again the usage of it timeline does a disservice to the structure and the viewers. In one moment the documentary is addressing the media blaming video games for violence and the next it’s celebrating vudeogames. It’s emotion is all over the place without feeling connected to each other. Another issue is it priorities when it comes to who’s speaking on the subject. Someone important as Atari co-founder Nolan Bushnell whose contribution to videogames is very significant receives less screen time than actor Donald Faison who hasn’t contribute to videogames in any shape. All the interviews sadly focus more on big stars than actual known videgame developers. There are several montages of video game trailers and gameplay footage that can on for minutes which also constitute as bad transitions. If you happen to be interested in any of the games in the montages you won’t have their name listed anywhere in the film. If the director does anything correctly it is conveying the passion of the fans and game designers he interviewed. For many games are much more than just a hobby, and that love and enthusiasm shows through. However, that segment isn’t enough to make up for the rest of documentary that says “All area of gaming is great” in a propaganda manner. For non-gamers it’ll come across that way because the documentary is filled with nothing, but good words about video games therefore doing harm in not providing a fair view on the subject matter more negative aspects. Every area it wants to discuss on the subject either misses relaying information to the viewer or is sloppily delivered because of it poor choice of its own structure.

Video Games: The Movie is too glamorize in its poor representation of gaming culture that it’s slick production values make it come across as one giant commercial. The whole structure of the documentary is sloppy jumping from certain subjects and specific years that muddles it message. If one thing it does express correctly is conveying gamers passion for video games going beyond simply enjoying playing games and touching on the more social aspect of gaming. It’s just a shame that same passion wasn’t shared by its filmmakers to make an engaging film on the same subject matter these gamers care so much for.

4/10

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