Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Two New Films About Video Game Controversies

Courtesy of Game Politics, news about two new documentary films examining videogame controversies (and specifically focused on the videogame violence debate) that are slowly circulating through the festival circuit. The first, directed by Danny Ledonne -- the maker of the controversial game Super Columbine Massacre RPG -- follows the controversy surrounding the game, in the wake of the Columbine massacre and the ensuing anti-game political climate. The film, Playing Columbine: A True Story of a Video Game Controversy, was screened at the GameCity festival in Nottingham. You can check out Ian Bogost's coverage of the film at Water Cooler Games, or an early review at Kotaku here. As Bogost writes:
The terrific irony is that Playing Columbine has an infinitely greater chance of getting picked up for broader distribution of some kind at a festival compared to the game. Of course, it also has an infinitely greater chance of actually getting shown at a festival in which it is accepted as a selection.

Meanwhile, the Kotaku posting questions the film's seeming self-centeredness:
In his latest work, Ledonne has created a documentary about the aftermath of his game about the aftermath of the massacre. Judging by the rather short trailer, it feels like the documentary is a little too much about Ledonne and not enough about the very real and complicated issues involving both the shooting and the idea of tacking serious subject matters with video games.

You can judge for yourself if/when the film comes your way. In the meantime, you can check out the trailer on Youtube.

The second film, Mortal Kombat by Spencer Halpin, is a much more inclusive look at the history and scope of videogame controversies. As Ledonne himself describes:
It seamlessly blends together the history of the medium, highlighting the colors and textures of early videogames, the controversy-sparking 16-bit era, and the graphical sophistication of the modern platforms… The film is a visual treat from first frame to last…

While the trailer for Mortal Kombat appears to build a case against videogame violence, Ledonne maintains that the film actually supplies a "summarily decisive blow to the anti-game critics of the world." You can also read a very early review by Bija Gutoff at Apple, and/or watch the very spiffy trailer on Youtube, while you wait for a screening/copy to make its way to your area. Note: When the trailer was originally launched online last year, it was met with a lot of criticism from the games community, for its apparent sensationalizing of the issues and anti-game stance. Ledonne's comments are thus important, as it indicates that the film paints quite a different portrait than what is seen in the trailer.

p.s. Those of you with an interest in finding good documentaries about videogame culture and issues might want to check out King of Kong.

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