The best video game documentaries to watch in 2023
Have you ever wondered how Sony ended up breaking into the video game business? Or maybe you’ve heard a rumor that Atari dumped thousands of game cartridges in the New Mexico desert. Or you may be curious as to who fact King Kong. These are just some of the questions answered in some of the best and most interesting video game documentaries you can watch right now.
It’s fun to get sucked into the glamor of marketing and the glamor of powerful consoles likeAnd Or in the hype about blockbuster releases. But video games have a long and storied history, and even the most casual gamer will find these tales of the industry compelling.
To discover the exciting story behind your favorite games and consoles, give your thumbs a break and check out these gaming-related movies.
Almost everyone agrees that King of Kong is awesome. The documentary is about a fight between Billy, a restaurant owner, and Steve, a science teacher, who compete over which of them is the best Donkey Kong player in the world. But this description does not explode in the intrigue, eccentricity and madness of this tale.
AAA games like Cyberpunk 2077 orinalantasy 7 Remake require a small army of developers as well as a nine-figure budget. Indie games are made for a lot less, usually less than a handful of people. Sometimes, only one person makes it.
Indie Game: The Movie shows the courage, dedication and perseverance required of indie developers. This award-winning documentary is available to rent or purchase on Amazon Prime Video.
Just as the dot-com bubble burst at the turn of the century, the video game market crashed in the early 1980s. There were many reasons, but many fingers point to ET on Atari, a historic commercial failure. Atari: Game Over is the story of the rise and fall of Atari, and it also investigates the story that Atari buried unsold copies of ET in the New Mexico desert. It’s available to buy or rent on YouTube.
Based on Blake J. Harris’s insightful 2014 book, this feature-length documentary delves into the hair-raising confrontation of the early ’90s when Sega challenged Nintendo’s grip on the gaming market. Sonic the Hedgehog battles against Mario, obnoxious ad fights are fought for your attention and things get bloody due to censorship vs. uncensored Mortal Kombat. It stirs up memories for anyone who has been there, or how it makes for an extraordinary tale for anyone who hasn’t.
Console Wars brings you a cast of colorful characters from the video game industry of yesteryear. Of particular note is former Sega of America CEO Tom Kalinski, who also masterminded the He-Man and Barbie revival for Mattel. or now, the only way to watch it is to subscribe to Paramount Plus, which starts at $5 per month.
If you are looking to delve into the history of video games in general, Six-part Netflix documentary A high score is the way to go. Each episode covers a specific element of the industry, such as the fall of Atari, the rise of Nintendo and the impact of Streetighter 2 on esports. The Sega Challenge segment has some crossover with Console Wars, providing a more rounded perspective on the story if you watch both.
High Score feels a bit unfocused at times, but it gives you a satisfying overview of how gaming has evolved since the 70s. All six episodes are now available on Netflix.
This feature-length documentary focuses on Sony’s 1994 entry into the video game market with its small gray PlayStation, one of the first consoles to have widespread appeal for adults. Big names from the brand’s 25-year history – like current PlayStation boss Jim Ryan, Metal Gear Solid mastermind Hideo Kojima, PS5 lead architect Mark Cerny and co-creator of Resident Evil Shinji Mikami Consider what big 3D games used to be, and marketing executives reveal how to make Sony’s console great.
The segments on PS2, PS3, and PS4 are much shorter, but give a nice overview of where the PS5 is establishing itself. It’s now available on streaming, Blu-ray, and DVD.