I remember a time when gaming was seen as a pastime activity that kids did, parents didn’t understand it and nobody could play games, write about games or even make games and make good money off it, or so I was told. But here we are, 2014 and not only is gaming one of the biggest entertainment markets ever it is also a time where the triple A games get less exposure while the indie games are slowly but surely taking over. And with money in any kind of business there are bound to be documentaries coming out that addresses the subject, and there is nothing I enjoy more when I watch a documentary then when it is about my favourite activity, gaming. Pixel Poetry is one of the newest ones I have watched and I am here to tell you all about it
I can't remember the first gaming documentary I saw but I do remember the one that I got my wife to watch with me, which is huge seeing as she is a more causal/mobile gamer opposed to me, but the documentary was King of Kong which is still one of my favourite documentaries about games ever and if you haven’t seen it yet you should. Since then one of the most interesting one was Indie Game: The Movie which showed off a side of indie game development that I rarely got to see.
Pixel Poetry is the newest one I have watched which is being made by Richard James Cook and distributed by Devolver Film which you might know as Devolver Digital which is a game company responsible for games such as Serious Sam, Hotline Miami and Luftrausers to name a few. The games main focus is to address the question of video-games as an art form. And since the Indie games scene took off this has been a question that has plagued the minds of a lot of gamers, and that is what Pixel Poetry is here to show you.
My favourite part of the documentary is when it visits the old familiar argument that game violence is a horrible thing and it is corrupting the minds of our children only to slowly and clearly completely blows away those arguments and then moves on. This was a great way to address the topic yet not spend the entire movie dwelling on it as we all know, at least the ones that have played games for a few years, that this is far fetched from reality and video-games never makes you do anything but escape from reality and that is why we all love it. So kudos to the writers for addressing it yet not making a huge fuss about it.
Grand old man Adam Sessler is one of my favourite gaming journalists, have been and probably always will be simply because he never stops talking, meaning you can never shut him up, there isn’t a question about video-games that Mr. Sessler doesn’t have an answer to, and it clearly shows in this documentary just how much knowledge about our industry this man sits on. And the way he manages to calm his enthusiasm (which always clearly shines through whenever he speaks about games and if you have seen a interview with Mr. Sessler you know what I mean) enough to make the strongest and most valid points in my mind in this entire documentary.
And the documentary is filled with guest appearances from industry people such as Kellee Santiago, Warren Spector, Feargus Urqhart, Gordon Walton but I had trouble finding why they did not focus on their own products instead of speaking on the industry as a whole. And that was one of the main issues I had with this documentary, as it is a good documentary on the subject, it simply didn't manage to capture me or grab my attention, meaning I quickly forgot and had to watch it twice seeing as I was reviewing a lot of games while I was supposed to do this review. So I had to let it sit for a while before I started on it and by the time I started on it most of the things I had seen was gone and I had to re-watch it for this review. Which isn’t saying this is a bad documentary or that it was boring, it is just not enough specific content to keep me personally interested after I was done watching it.
I feel there was situations in the documentary where things could have been done a lot more differently which might have made the experience somewhat more interesting, like I previously mentioned, when you have industry professionals at your disposals I would personally have them speak on their product instead of speaking on the industry as a whole. And that might be an issue, if you make a documentary about a certain subject you would want to include people outside the circle of the subject you are currently writing about. In this case the subject is art in video games and I feel personally that you already need to be above average interested in the subject to get the full enjoyment out of this documentary which I feel personally kind of removes some of the idea of this being the opportunity to draw in a new and fresh audience that might not be interested in games but more in art and with this movie maybe could get into both. But hey, again what do I know right, I just love playing games and write about them.
All in all Pixel Poetry is a well-crafted documentary, it has interesting ideas, people and writers but my personal problems was with how they were all addressed and what wasn't addressed. I still suggest you check it out as you might have a totally different point of view on the documentary than I did and that is the entire point of a documentary isn’t it?