There’s a few things I love in life and that’s Video Games, Music, and Movies. Video Games and Music come hand in hand with some amazing sound tracks coming from some truly great games, what you don’t hear about very often are video game documentaries, there’s a fair few out there, but I’m going to write about just two.
This documentary follows a guy called Steve Wiebe (weeb, not weebie). Wiebe is an ordinary guy who likes to play Donkey Kong, he was laid off from Boeing and is now a Science teacher. Throughout the documentary you’ll hear people talk about how nice the guy is and how he always falls short in life instantly giving you a feel of empathy for the guy.
He acquires a Donkey Kong arcade cabinet and begins to master the game level by level, he’s truly amazing at this game and decides to challenge the high score set by Billy Mitchell (874,300).
After a long time filming his gameplay from over his shoulder he gets an impressive score of 1,006,600 and submits the tape to Twin Galaxies, an organisation formed by Walter Day to keep track of video game high scores in the US. Wiebe suddenly gains local fame from his high score and various news outlets want to talk to the new King of Kong.
As you’d expect Mitchell wasn’t happy about getting his score stamped on by a “normal” person and ends up getting his nose out of joint because his following of arcade nerd minions is slowly starting to peter.
Mitchell decides to send out one of his video game minions to investigate Wiebe and his machine. Unfortunately for Wiebe it turns out that the machine’s main board was provided by Roy Shildt – Mitchells Arch Nemesis who has since been out seeking revenge on Mitchell since he tarnished one of Shild’s scores in the past. This gives Mitchell the upper hand and causes Wiebe’s score to also be disregarded due to the by-chance association with Shildt.
The documentary then follows Wiebe’s journey to prove to Twin Galaxies and Billy Mitchell that his score was genuine by travelling to Funspot Arcade in New Hampshire in order to play the game and achieve the score live in front of Walter Day.
Wiebe achieves the score and it seems certain that Wiebe has the top spot once again until all of a sudden Mitchell sends one of his minions in to Funspot with a poor quality VHS showing him getting a higher score. Something that Mitchell often critisises throughout the documentary.
I’m not going to spoil the ending, you’re going to have to watch it yourself to see if he finally achieves the highest score ever on Donkey Kong. I really do think it’s worth watching though, it’s a brilliant insight into the clique that is the video game arcade world.
Indie Game: The Movie
This particular documentary follows a few developers during the final few months of developing their game up to the actual release date. I first decided to watch this because I was interested in how Indie Game developers work.
I was super surprised to find that the documentary follows two main games, the first is FEZ created by Polytron, it shows Phil Fish and his journey of creating the game, and showing off FEZ finally at PAX East, along with the troubles he faced to do so. The next made me smile from ear to ear, the documentary also follows Team Meat and their journey of finalising Super Meat Boy and publishing it to the Xbox Live Arcade.
There are several other developer interviews and a small portion talking about Braid and it’s developer Jonathan Blow and his thoughts on the game and the ideas behind the game.
This is a documentary that really needs to be watched, it’s a real eye opener to the troubles indie developers can run into, as well as the level of commitment they put into their games. It’s totally changed my outlook on Indie Developers and Indie Titles & hopefully it has the same effect on you too!
If you have a Netflix account both documentaries are available to watch on there, I certainly recommend it!
Finally I’d like to write a little about a new video game documentary that’s currently seeking funding on Kickstarter. From Bedroom to Billions is a two hour feature length documentary film telling the remarkable, true story of the British Video Games Industry from 1979 to the present day and how the creativity and vision of a relatively small number of individuals allowed the UK to play a key, pioneering role in the shaping of the billion dollar video games industry which today, dominates the modern world’s entertainment landscape.
The ‘From Bedrooms to Billions’ project went live on Kickstarter on Monday 25th February and has just 60 days to reach its funding goal of £18,000. Much like any other Kickstarter project there are some awesome things you can receive if you back the project; To help with their cause as well as having the option to simply order a copy of the film on digital download, DVD and Blu-ray, some of the most famous UK Video Games makers and musicians have donated and signed various items that are being offered as funding perks.