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Five Great Video Game Documentaries

While we all love to play video games, sometimes we forget how much goes into developing them, or just how large the cult following for some games may be. Luckily, a number of excellent video game documentaries exist to help educate us on the past, present, and future of gaming. Below are a few of our picks for the best documentaries out there about video games.

5. Tetris: From Russia with Love

One of the most recognized, beloved, and popular titles in gaming history is Tetris. This documentary follows the creation of the popular game in Russia in the 1980s, and how it became so popular. As addicting as the game itself, the film draws viewers in by introducing an excellent cast of characters who contributed to the game’s success. The film also features a tense, historical backdrop not found in many video game documentaries, as Tetris was created during the era of the Cold War. The tensions between the East and West come into play in the intriguing political and business aspects featured in the documentary. If you’re both a history geek and a gaming geek, this is one documentary you should definitely check out.

4. Second Skin

MMORPGs are beyond popular. Tens of millions of people engage in MMORPGs, but not many understand the impact these games have on the lives of some of these players. Enter Second Skin, a documentary that focuses on the lives of seven MMORPG players. The people featured in the documentary are addicted to popular MMORPGs, such as World of Warcraft and Everquest II. The film explores how the addictions to these games these players have transforms and affects their lives outside of the virtual world. The growing Chinese “gold farming” market is also examined. For anyone that is a fan of MMORPGs, check this one out—it's a major eye-opener.

3. Chasing Ghosts: Beyond the Arcade

For the nostalgic viewers, this documentary harkens back to the golden days of gaming in the arcade. The film follows Walter Day, who launched the Twin Galaxies International Scoreboard for gaming in 1982, and a number of now middle-aged gamers who appeared as video game champions in a LIFE magazine spread in 1982. The documentary focuses on the height of the arcade industry in the 80s, and its devastating collapse shortly thereafter. Whether you’re looking to relive your youth in the arcade, or want to learn about the scene for the first time, this is one documentary you shouldn’t miss.

2. The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters

This is one of the very best and most iconic documentaries ever made about video games and gaming. This one follows the story of Billy Mitchell, who, as some of you may know, holds the world record for the high score in Donkey Kong (arcade). Also featured in this documentary is the would-be usurper of Mitchell’s world record, Steve Wiebe. The “characters” are fantastic, and their story is surprisingly gripping. This documentary is actually worth watching even if you’re not into gaming.

1. Indie Game: The Movie

Here is a documentary that goes beyond gaming and dives into the increasingly popular indie video game development scene. The 2012 documentary focuses on the struggles of five independent game developers: Edmund McMillan and Tommy Refenes (Super Meat Boy); Phil Fish (Fez); and Jonathan Blow (Braid). The film received high critical praise, and has won multiple awards at various film festivals. This documentary shows how difficult and thankless the indie game development scene is, but more importantly, it shows the passion that these developers put into their games. If there is one film on this list you must watch, this is the one.

There you have it, our list of the five best video game documentaries. Do you have any you would like to see added to the list? Let us know in the comment section below!

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