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Video Games: The Movie

Score: 85%
Rating: Not Rated
Publisher: Anchor Bay Entertainment
Region: 1
Media: DVD/1
Running Time: 101 Mins.
Genre: Documentary/Historical
Audio: English Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles: Spanish, English SDH


  • Sean Astin Mashup
  • Why We Love Games

Videogames. They're everywhere these days, from bars, restaurants, coffee shops, schools, libraries and museums to videogame consoles in homes around the world and across the street - often with multiple consoles per house and, sometimes, per gamer. Mind you, if you need to travel from one of those locations to the next, there are portable gaming systems and a myriad of videogames available for your smart phone to keep you occupied during your trip. Yup, they're pretty much everywhere. Videogames.

Based on their prevalence, younger gamers may actually be confused as to why gaming is presented as being "nerdy" in various entertainment media, from movies to television shows and comic books. Video Games: The Movie offers a glimpse into the history of videogames, from the brainchild and diversion of engineers aiming to show what impressive things a new computer can do, through the growing pains when big business tried to use videogames as a way to "print money" at great costs to quality, and on up to present day, with some musing on where the cutting edge might take us in the future.

Video Games: The Movie, produced by Zach Braff and narrated by Sean Astin, presents musings, insights and first-hand accounts from various people in and around the videogame industry, including Nolan Bushnell, Al Alcorn, Peter Molyneux, Cliff Bleszinski, David Perry, Hideo Kojima, Kudo Tsunoda, Tommy Tallarico and many others, and gamer (and geek) icons such as Wil Wheaton, Zach Braff, Chris Hardwick, Sean Astin and Donald Faison.

I actually built and taught a class that covered the history of videogames at Louisiana State University and didn't see anything in Video Games: The Movie that directly disagreed* with my curriculum, but I found their presentation to be a bit confusing. Specifically, they use a timeline to provide context for the various things they talk about, but instead of showing everything they intend to show at a given point on the timeline and then advancing, you'll find yourself being whisked forward, passing up systems you may have wanted to hear about and then later, flying back along the timeline to the beginning to address a different aspect of the videogame industry.

While Video Games: The Movie is feature length, at times it felt like it was stretched to make it so, by the inclusion of filler. There are several video montages, for example, that merely show various videogame footage with music instead of the original audio. These sometimes seemed a bit forced and almost always seemed to run longer than necessary. Additionally, there are several places where old (read historic) commercials for games gone by are shown, to illustrate what videogame marketing at that time was like. These are interesting, have historical value and will probably be quite amusing to younger viewers. However, I would have probably preferred to see these as a special feature, where viewers could select and watch the ones they want. As it was, these seemed to slow down the video a bit.

Psibabe watched this movie with me and she didn't understand who the target market was; as she said, "Those that don't know the information won't care and those who care would already know." I see what she means, but I don't necessarily agree completely. There are some interesting anecdotes about the videogame industry shared in Video Games: The Movie and, even if you know a thing or two about the history of videogames, there's still likely to be a nugget here or there that is new to you. As for those who don't care... watching Video Games: The Movie might pique their interest. Either way, consider this to be the highlights... there are a lot more factoids and stories about the videogame industry that Video Games: The Movie doesn't tell.

If you're interested in the videogame industry, where it came from, what it's been through and where it's headed, Video Games: The Movie gives you a glimpse into the behind-the-scenes world of videogames and how they came to be. Then, if you discover you want to know even more... well, you'll have to check into some books or look around online. (You could start with some of the links, below.)

* While nothing was contrary to my research, there is a point in the video where they remark how fortuitous it was that technology seemed to advance at just the right speed to support the videogames that were growing more complex and realistic. In fact, this is because the videogame industry, itself, has been pushing the envelope, demanding higher definition graphics, more realistic physics simulation and more lifelike artificial intelligence. The research and development of these technologies is advancing because there is a known demand for the hardware to handle these requirements and to allow gamers to play the latest, extremely realistic games.

-Geck0, GameVortex Communications
AKA Robert Perkins

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