It’s not easy to define innovation in the video game business. Developers and fans have very different ideas of what it is. So a few young filmmakers at Inaugural Films are embarking on a one-year quest to capture different views on innovation in Videogamer: The Film, An Innovative Documentary. They’re starting a Kickstarter campaign to raise $100,000 to cover the costs of travel and film production.
That’s a frugal budget, but the co-directors Josh Craig (right) and Jonathan Reynolds-Engel, and assistant director Shepherd Chou, are willing to put some sweat into this project. The idea came to them as they played games and heard a variety of views about what makes a game innovative.
“We love the gaming industry, the topic we’ve picked to cover, and have invested several hours a day” into planning the documentary, Craig said in an interview with GamesBeat. “We want to produce something that has been missing.”
Although games are a $67 billion worldwide business, I can’t say I’ve seen a definitive documentary on the subject. There’s Indie Game: The Movie, about indie game creation. Spencer Halpin’s Moral Kombat captured the debate on video game violence when it debuted in 2008. So the three-man team at Inaugural Films plans on diving deep into the subject matter of gaming innovation over a full year, interviewing developers, publishers, journalists, and players about what drives creativity in games. They expect to find some very different views of innovation that, when put together, will paint a mosaic of views about games.
Coincidentally, other film makes have launched a Kickstarter to make a film about the history of video games in the United Kingdom.
“We want to make the industry better,” Craig said. “We intend to travel around the world. We want to assist in revolutionizing the game industry.”
Engel said, “I’ve always been caught up in the culture of gaming. Even to the point where my first dream job was working at a GameStop. I think there is miscommunication between fans and developers.”
As the filmmakers did their research, the scope of their task got bigger and bigger. They decided to interview game journalists and critics because they often translate gaming to the masses and are keenly focused on innovation.
Craig has been trying to break into the gaming industry since 2008. He has worked on smaller game blogs. He has been to the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3), the Spike TV Video Game Awards (VGAs), PAX, and Machinima’s IGAs. He has directed several shorts and indie films and is a student in film at Georgia Perimeter College in Atlanta. During that time, he observed, “A lot of people want change, so that the industry can be more creative.”
He added, “We want to make a film that gets at the views of gamers and developers about how to do that. It is our way to break into this as a career.”
Reynolds-Engel [right] worked at a GameStop store and enjoyed talking with Craig about games. He is also an amateur filmmaker. To get pumped up for the film, he attended IGN’s Judgment Day event, the VGA’s red carpet, and Machinima’s IGAs. He interviewed Metal Gear creator Hideo Kojima; IGN staffers Peer Schneider, Talmedge Blevins, and Casey Lynch; Gearbox Software chief Randy Pitchford; and others. (Some snippets of the interviews are below).
Chou is also a game fan, a retail store manager and online reseller. He has attended game shows in Asia and brings a different perspective. The team plans to work on the film until the spring of 2014.
“One thing we want to do is plan out how the film works as a story,” Reynolds-Engel said. “The Kickstarter will help us do that.”