Earlier this week, 343i studios released a ten-minute “documentary” about their under-the-radar game project Halo 4, the story of a giant green supersoldier and the hologram that loves him. Halos 1-3 are considered hard-to-find cult classics; even on eBay copies are scarce and rumors swirl of underground “Halo markets” where aficionados gather to buy up the rare and valuable DVDs. All of which is to say, this documentary, which with its subdued musical accompaniment and balanced perspective is most certainly a documentary, should be mana for fans, who hear almost nothing about the game.
It also got us thinking about other overlooked game documentaries, and so we put together a list of our five favorite non-fiction game movies, for your consideration, gentle reader:
1. Get Lamp (2010)
The initial wave of games for home computers in the early 1980s relied on one element to tell intricate and challenging stories: text. This documentary is a history of the so-called “computer adventure games”, or what we now call text adventures. Watch the whole thing, below:
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2. Chasing Ghosts: Beyond the Arcade (2007)
When the enormous Twin Galaxies Arcade was built in 1981, the tiny town of Ottumwa, Iowa turned into the center of the gaming world. This is the story of some of the gamers who came, saw, and competed to be the best in the world. You can stream it on Hulu.
3. Second Skin (2008)
This is the best documentary about massively multiplayer games and the people whose lives are changed by them, from those who develop debilitating addictions to couples who meet online, as avatars. The whole thing is below.
4. Tetris: From Russia with Love (2004)
An hour-long history of the most addictive game ever created. You can catch the whole thing on the BBC.
5. Indie Game: The Movie (2012)
This doc, released in January, explores independent game culture through the stories of three i games, Braid, Fez, and Super Meat Boy. It has a whopping 92 percent fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes. A trailer:
Did we forget any? (Other than King of Kong. We've all seen King of Kong.)