The relationship between video games and movies has long been a rocky one. Video game adaptations of popular films are notoriously bad, with the history of film adaptations of video games faring little better. But in recent years, films which have foregone adaptation in favor have documentary retrospection have garnered respectable levels of acclaim. In 2007, The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters, a documentary about the two men at the heart of the world record score chase for the Donkey Kong arcade game, garnered notice from a number of critical associations; 2012 saw the timely investigation of independent game development with Indie Game: The Movie. Perhaps channelling the latter more than the former, the forthcoming Video Games: The Movie promises a look at the growing industry with a much wider scope, and has just secured theatrical distribution thanks to Variance Films (The Retrieval). Variance will put the film in theaters on July 18th alongside a VOD release.
Although it might be confused as a sequel of sorts just based on the title, Video Games: The Movie bears no relation to Indie Game: The Movie other than its overlapping subject matter. From its trailer (below) Video Games proposes to encompass the history of video games, including consoles, computers, and arcades, as well as the evolving competitive scene and the future of video games from both a technical and a social perspective.
Video Games: The Movie seems like a fairly massive undertaking, but it does have some assets in its corner. Narrating the film is Sean Astin (The Lord of the Rings), with Zach Braff and Cliff Bleszinsky, formerly of Epic Games and the lead designer of the immensely popular Gears of War trilogy, among its producers. Jeremy Snead is a first time feature director, but worked on last year’s One Direction doc and has ties to the game industry as well.
There’s definitely a passion for the subject matter evident in the trailer. What remains to be seen is if Video Games: The Movie can deliver the relational poignancy of its video game documentary predecessors.