It seems that there has been an influx of video game themed documentaries being released recently. ‘Gameplay’, one of the newer submissions falling along these lines is easily one of the best. Rather than being a commercial for the industry or filling time with seemingly unrelated celebrity interviews (video games are cool because famous people play them!) the film undertakes the ambitious project of illustrating both the history and social changes of the videogame revolution.
Rather than settle for a straight documentary format with interviews and old footage, ‘Gameplay’ incorporates fun animations and gameplay to build upon a storytelling narration. The interviews and old footage are still here. It would be impossible to make a good documentary without them; but they are just two of many devices used by filmmakers to further the story. The people interviewed are the innovators who lived and worked the gaming revolution rather than just people who know the history or who currently work in the field.
This is both an informative and entertaining documentary. It starts at the beginning of the computer revolution and rockets into the future. Unlike other documentaries that have attempted similar projects ‘Gameplay’ starts at the very beginning rather than just picking up at an arbitrary point in time (Super Mario was not the first video game).
Beyond just looking at the history of gaming itself the film also situates the innovations within the context of their times. For example, space based video games became huge during the era of ‘Star Wars’ and other technologically advanced fantasy movies. The growth of what people saw in movies and began to imagine in their minds changed what people wanted to be able to do in videogames.
‘Gameplay’ is one of the best (if not the best) documentaries on the videogame revolution. It just hits the phenomenon from so many different angles and puts so much work and passion into its presentation. Also, it features a lot of old school videogame play AND commercials. This is definitely a movie to check out, learn a little something, and get nostalgic over.