The most logical way to indulge your insatiable appetite for playing video games is to, well, play some video games. However, there are other ways to feed your need for video games!
One of the more enlightening ways to scratch the itch is watching video game documentaries. A good video game documentary not only provides you with a solid hour or two of entertainment, but also teaches you something you didn’t previously know.
And there are lots of quality video game documentaries out there, with most of them available to stream online or through a movie rental service. In this article, we’ve compiled a list of the best video game documentaries and where you can stream them!
1. King of Kong
King of Kong: A Fist Full of Quarters is probably the most famous video game documentary of them all. The film, which was directed by Seth Gordon, covers the story of Steve Wiebe as he tries to wrest the Donkey Kong high score from the previous record-holder Billy Mitchell.
The story was incredibly interesting when the film was made in 2007, but it’s even more enticing now with Billy Mitchell having all of his records stripped from him.
2. Double Fine Adventure
This is one of the most enthralling looks at what it takes to make a video game. The documentary came to be as part of Double Fine’s Kickstarter campaign for a new game. The game, which eventually became Broken Age, is a point-and-click adventure. And whether you like the genre or not this documentary is fascinating!
Double Fine Adventure is split up into 20 episodes. You can jump in and out without the same level of a commitment that a movie typically requires. However, your overall time commitment is going to be much longer, because each episode is between 30 and 40 minutes long.
So, kick back, relax, and get ready to watch the struggle of taking a video game from idea to reality while a dedicated community grows more and more impatient.
3. Free to Play: The Movie
This is my favorite documentary listed here, but as a dedicated player of Dota 2 I may be a little biased.
However, even if you’re not a Dota player, this documentary is still an entertaining look at what players at the highest levels go through to prepare for the most lucrative tournament in video games. It’s one of those documentaries where the subject matter isn’t that important—it’s a story about people.
Free to Play: The Movie follows the stories of three pro Dota 2 players as they get ready to compete for a $1 million prize pool (The international prize pools have grown substantially since then). If you’re curious to see behind the scenes of a major eSports event, this is definitely the documentary for you.
4. Indie Game: The Movie
This movie gives us an incredible sneak peak into the world of independent game development. It follows the creation of Super Meat Boy, FEZ, and Braid, all of which went on to be incredibly successful titles. Of course, that success didn’t come easily, and Indie Game: The Movie documents that struggle.
Indie Game: The Movie has won its fair share of awards and received praise from both video game journalists and other developers for the very real way in which it shows the struggle of creating video games. Even though it was released in 2012, it’s still highly watchable.
5. Naughty Dog 30th Anniversary Documentary
Naughty Dog is responsible for some of the most beloved video game franchises of all time, including The Last of Us, Uncharted, and Crash Bandicoot. The company was making games for the Apple II, and the legacy runs deep.
So when you get the chance to go behind the curtain and see how things are done at such a prolific and beloved developer, you should take the opportunity.
The documentary plays like a trip down memory lane, celebrating some of the accomplishments of the beloved studio. Any hardcore gaming fan will love all the interviews and information in this film.
Most importantly, Naughty Dog 30th Anniversary Documentary is entertaining while being informative, which is what truly separates a good documentary from a bad one.
Where to Stream It: YouTube
6. Minecraft: The Story of Mojang
Before Fortnite completely took over the world of video games, Minecraft captured the imagination of players of all ages. This interesting documentary covers the story of Mojang, the team behind Minecraft.
As you might expect, Markus “Notch” Persson, the well-known face of the company, is heavily featured in the film, and he’s quite the character.
The film starts just after Minecraft exploded onto the scene. You get the see the excitement of a developer realizing their creation is actually taking off in a big way. Not only does the documentary feature the creators of the game, but it actually shows the players too.
Plenty of popular Minecraft YouTubers are in the movie, so it hits on a rather diverse section of people.
7. Atari: Game Over
Is there a name more important to the rise (and fall and rise again) of video games than Atari? The Atari 2600 console truly put home gaming on the map, but that success didn’t come without some pretty serious issues.
Atari: Game Over recounts the rise and fall of one of the household names of video games, and it’s quite tragic. The fact that one company could achieve such success and then almost completely kill games is quite shocking.
The lens through which the story is told makes this movie stand out. The tale of Atari is interwoven with the tale of a crew attempting to dig up the site where Atari is thought to have thrown out numerous copies of E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial.
Production values on this documentary are top notch, as it started out as an Xbox Originals film and moved onto other platforms later. Atari: Game Over is worth watching even if you know the end result, as the history lesson is fascinating.
8. Video Games: The Movie
Rounding out this list is a very broad movie. Instead of focusing in on one specific company or story, this documentary attempts to tell the overarching story of video games and how they got to this point.
The film tells the story of gaming rising from a niche hobby to a gigantic business that is one of the most beloved forms of entertainment.
Video Games the Movie comes from the the minds of executive producer Zach Braff and CliffyB (aka Cliff Bleszinski, the name behind Unreal and Gears of War) and they really do a great job with the wide-reaching subject matter.
If you have a family who just doesn’t seem to “get” your gaming hobby, sit down and watch this with them and see if it helps them understand why games are a big deal.
You Are Now a Video Game Expert
If you take the time to kick back, relax, and watch all of these documentaries, you’ll know more about video games than most people. Even the so-called experts.
You’ll learn about esports, retro games, indie games, AAA development, and just about every other aspect of gaming. However, be aware that video games are addicting and you should leave your house occasionally.