If you haven’t heard, Sony Pictures has acquired the rights to Console Wars, a book by author Blake Harris detailing the Sega/Nintendo console wars of the 90s, and plan on turning it into a major motion picture; set to be directed by Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg. While that sounds fun, the more intriguing part of the press release is the mention that Harris will also be working on a documentary on the same subject.
Quality video game documentaries are a rare beast in the world of filmmaking; a statistic made all the more obvious by the shockingly bad portrayal of video games and gamers in fictional films. Not only would an influx of well done video game documentaries help to curb that mass media image problem, but would also give gamers insightful looks into a variety of subjects within the industry, they may not otherwise be privy to.
Which got me thinking. What subjects within the world of video games would make the most interesting subject for major documentary films?
Well…quite a few to be honest. Thousands, in fact, if I had to venture a guess at the exact number.
But in the interest of brevity, here are five video game documentaries I would love to see.
Still Thinking: The Eternal Legacy of the Dreamcast
The Dreamcast is a unique piece of console history, that did a lot of things well. It had an incredible marketing campaign. It not only proposed the idea that consoles could achieve true online gaming capabilities, but accomplished that goal. A classic game was being released seemingly once a month for it. Technologically, it represented a significant leap from what came before it.
It did everything right…except succeed.
Still Thinking would chronicle the conception, release, initial success, downfall, and beloved legacy of the Sega Dreamcast, from the viewpoint of fans, developers, journalists and the team behind the system. Why did such a beloved system have such a short lifespan? What could have been done different? What do we have to learn from it? Why, after so many years, is it still one of the most admired consoles of all time?
From the sounds of it, if the new Sega/Nintendo documentary (or feature film equivalent) does mention the Dreamcast, it will likely be in passing. A more complete look at the little console that could would be appreciated.
1998: The Year that Changed Gaming
The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, Metal Gear Solid and Half-Life. They are the so-called “Holy Trinity” of 1998 video game releases, and are often cited as the reasons that year was so great.
In reality, they only scratch the surface.
Pokemon Red/Blue, Starcraft, Resident Evil 2…the list of games released in 1998 that would influence every year that followed is staggering. The Year that Changed Gaming could take a 30 for 30 documentary style approach that covers not only the wealth of individual releases that year, but the climate that led to so many great games being released in a short time span, and how they all impacted the future direction of the industry.
There’s an easy argument to be made about 1998 being the best year in gaming history. It would be fascinating to know more about why that is.
Who Made this Crap?: The Story of LJN
LJN was a toy company that decided to dabble into the world of video games. Due to their toy line connections, they were able to secure the rights to several of the most beloved properties from the collective childhood of gamers of that era.
And they were all terrible. Not just bad, but dreadful. Absolute crap.
Who Made this Crap? would not only let fans everywhere vent about the historically bad LJN games of the past, but would also take a look at what life was like in the studio at that time. After all, most villains have their own tale to tell, and surely working for LJN at that time wasn’t a concentrated effort to ruin our childhoods. Was it?
Not only would this be a fun trip into the darker parts of nostalgia, but would provide a rare inside look at how bad video games are made.
That Doggie in the Window: Resident Evil, and the Horror Game Uprising
Ok, I admit this entrant is purely due to fanboy love.
The effectiveness of the horror genre in the world of video games has always fascinated me. The release of Resident Evil clearly announced their collective ability to scare the wits out of us like few other things can, yet even the best horror game creators have had to struggle to not only craft their experiences, but to get those games to sell and achieve the respect they deserve.
A deeper look at the horror genre in gaming (especially as it concerns the influence and creative fallout of the Resident Evil series) may help the contributions of horror game developers finally achieve the same notoriety as some of the all-time great horror movies enjoy.
If nothing else, it would make a great watch around Halloween time.
Under the Bridge: The Lives of Video Game Trolls
They creep around multiplayer games, message boards and all corners of the online world dishing hate, ignorance, racism and outlandishly childish behavior on everyone they meet. Often cited as the very worst of the gaming community, they are collectively known as the trolls.
Whenever I encounter one of these cyber-bullies, I can’t help but wonder how someone gets to the point of acting the way they do. Are they themselves bullied in some way? Is it the result of some chemical imbalance? Are they really just evil, twisted little souls?
Most likely, the answer is a little bit of all that, and then some. That’s why a closer look at the lives of these trolls would not only provide some much needed insight into this sad human condition, but also take away some of the power they can have to disturb people of all ages through their actions.
Not a light topic by any means, but a very important one.