"Video Games: The Movie": Get to Know the Biggest Branch of the Entertainment Industry

Jeremy Snead's documentary Video Games: The Movie is a look back at 40-odd years of video gaming history, and an apologia for a multibillion dollar industry that outgrosses both movies and music. An infodump of statistics early on addresses some of the thornier controversies: As a matter of fact, The Movie would have you know, women do play video games, and parents are aware of what their children are up to. It's never less than entertaining, though for a film that is so determined to convert nonbelievers, it occasionally gets heavy into jargon; a passing reference to "shovelware" is left undefined for those not fluent in gamer patois. (It's software with an emphasis on quantity over quality.) Video Games: The Movie is almost a testament to its own insufficiency as a documentary, in that it makes a strong case for the cultural importance of video games as an area of historical study and research, but it also demonstrates that it's too broad a topic for a single movie. Indeed, there are already many fine documentaries about more specific aspects — such as competitive gaming in The King of Kong, arcade culture in last year's overlooked The Space Invaders, or the rise and fall of the Atari 2600 in Once Upon Atari — but Video Games: The Movie is a decent starting point.

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