Sunday, December 28, 2014

Video Games: The Movie (2014) Review:

A video game's basis goes back to technology. Technology is what got us to this point today. The internet and several other mediums are the very things that allow billions of people around the world to communicate the way we currently do. Just imagine how much slower the world would move without it. Not only this, but there would also be various other things missing as well. In this documentary, first time feature writer/director Jeremy Snead, gives us this intriguing movie about the history of video games, how they came to be, evolved and continue to endure today.

Looks retro to me!
Best known for playing Samwise 'Sam' Gamgee from The Lord of the Rings franchise, Sean Astin narrates the documentary through assorted lenses. Initially to brief their audience, Astin and Snead chuck out a bunch of statistical information about video games. Topics like what percentages of age groups play them, how many play between each gender and how many roughly per home. It's an efficient ice breaker to help their viewers understand just how significant video games are right now (of course those numbers will change over time). After this, the real captivating information begins to unfold starting from the beginning. Who invented the video game? It's interesting to know because for those who are in engineering, probably would not have much of a clue because video games are a marriage between science and art. Most of the time, engineering schools stick to the science and do not include the art.

The other subjects discussed are the types of roadblocks the gaming industry came across. One of the biggest issues mentioned was the video game crash after the release of Atari's E.T. in 1983, which also was covered by The Angry Video Game Nerd for anyone who follows Other problems such as the affects of simulated violence on children and the whole universal perspective of gamers as a community are also talked about; along with the possibility of future gaming in general. Plus, gaming as a culture has had a massive effect on how people live today as well. It may seem like there's not many, but there's more to it. The fact that there's an underground society that only casual gamers might not have even considered. Gaming has a big following - no doubt about that. These are just a few of several subtopics examined throughout the film's running time.

As an actual documentary, it's largely solid. The crew was able to get multiple interview snippets of various people who either worked on video games, actors or even the creators themselves. To name a few; Zach Braff, Cliff Bleszinski, Chloe Dykstra, Donald Faison, Chris Hardwick, Wil Wheaton, Max Landis (story writer to the cult film Chronicle (2012)) and Nolan Bushnell (creator of Atari). When it came to visuals, the majority of the film cuts to a time line with numerous icons that showcase the particular year, thus segueing into the next topic of discussion. That's not all though. The crew also likes to insert a diverse amount of video game clips from different eras and even home videos of people playing games or news anchors of different broadcasting stations. It gives it a very nostalgic feel.

The name of this guy is already mentioned...
The cinematography, also provided by writer/director Jeremy Snead, has the ability to show the culture of video games today. Examples like this are the conventions people attend, the massive competitions that take place in super stadiums and the atmosphere of which the culture has grown from. It's actually somewhat overwhelming because of how passionate these people really are. The only minor flaw to this documentary is Craig Richey's score. Viewers should be able to hear from time to time with its soft piano and occasional nostalgic 8-bit songs, but it gets overshadowed frequently. This is either due to the inclusion of contemporary music or just because it wasn't emphasized at the right time. This also isn't Richey's first composition so I wonder if he didn't think all that much effort was needed. Oh well, it's still very cool to watch.

This documentary pretty much covers all bases here on video games. Even though it's musical score isn't as effective as it could; the writer/director is able to give its viewers and fans the best information available about why gaming is so popular and how it became that popular.

Points Earned --> 9:10

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