The gaming industry is a booming conglomerate of excited users, creative producers, and savvy marketing teams. A host of documentaries have been made showcasing the industry at large as well as focusing in on particular titles, consumer history, and/or underground subcultures.
For this list we have complied our recommendation for the top five must-see gaming industry documentaries available on DVD or the internet.
- 100 Yen: The Japanese Arcade Experience [68 min] (Strata Studios // 2013)
This film should be a foundational history lesson for any gaming industry personnel or enthusiast. Featuring interviews with gaming industry big shots like Taito, Daigo Umehara, and Clover-Tac, this documentary goes in-depth to cover the Japanese arcade phenomena.
Why this is a must-see: Provides a detailed historical overview of the arcade game explosion and pop culture in Japan — useful for those in game marketing, historical studies, or development of new gaming technology.
- Nintendo Entertainment System [10 min] (GameSpot Video Game History Month // 2011)
This compact and concise documentary explains the historical relationship between Atari and Nintendo, an overview of the 1980s gaming crash, the marketing strategies Nintendo used to gain retailer and consumer trust, and the subsequent rise of the Nintendo mainstream gaming culture.
Why this is a must-see: Showcasing a variety of 1980s Nintendo users, game history buffs, and game industry experts, this documentary gives immense insight to the excellent business marketing needed to reach a new, foreign, or burned-out consumer audience.
- Icons G4 – Electronic Arts, Parts 1 & 2 [11min, 11min] (G4 // 2011)
Originally filmed as part of G4’s “Icons” series, a TV show aimed at featuring visionary leaders, these two episodes focus on EA founder Trip Hawkins.
Why this is a must-see: Learn how EA made risky and innovative business decisions, for example regarding game distribution directly to retailers or treating developers as artists. Second, find out how this company effectively incorporated celebrity sports and powerful emotion into the gaming world.
- Thumb Candy – The History of Computer Games [48 min] (Channel 4 // 2011)
Ever wondered how we went so quickly from the simple graphics and “beep, beep” noises of the original computer games to the photorealistic versions of today? This chronologically presented documentary explains how.
Why this is a must-see: Though this film focuses on a past to present timeline, we think it’s also a useful tool to gain insight into the future of computer games as well. Just like the MIT student mentioned at the beginning, there are many talented individuals waiting for the opportunity to invent something new.
- Get Lamp (Director: Jason Scott // 2010)
This documentary focuses on a very particular sub-culture of gaming — the “computer adventure games” of the 1980s. This fascinating group of games leads users on an interactive story-telling journey similar to reading an adventure novel, except users get to input their own direction. And if you’ve never tried an interactive game like this, the DVD version of this film offers the option to try it straight from the DVD.
Why this is a must-see: Today’s loud, fast, and hyper-graphic games do appeal to a large mass of people, but are we missing something that the “computer adventure games” subculture hit on? Watch this documentary to make up your own mind.
What are your top must-see gaming industry documentaries? Tell us about them below!