Have you ever wondered how Sony managed to break into the video game business? Or maybe you’ve heard the rumor that Atari dumped thousands of game cartridges in the New Mexico desert. Or you might be curious to know who it is real King of Kong is These are just some of the questions answered by some of the best and most interesting video game documentaries you can watch right now.
It’s fun to get caught up in the marketing glitz and glamor of powerful consoles likeand or in the buzz around blockbuster releases. But video games have a long and storied history, and even the most casual of gamers will find these stories about the industry compelling.
To discover the intriguing story behind your favorite games and consoles, take a break and check out these gaming movies.
Almost everyone agrees that King of Kong is great. The documentary follows the battle between Billy, a restaurant owner, and Steve, a science teacher, who compete to be the best Donkey Kong player in the world. But that description doesn’t do justice to the intrigue, eccentricity, and craziness of this story.
AAA games like Cyberpunk 2077 or Final Fantasy 7 Remake require a small army of developers plus a nine-figure budget. Indie games are made with much less, usually by less than a handful of people. Sometimes they are made by just one person.
Indie Game: The film shows the courage, dedication and persistence required of indie developers. This award-winning documentary is available to rent or purchase on Amazon Prime Video.
Just as the dot-com bubble burst at the turn of the century, the video game market collapsed in the early 1980s. There were many reasons, but many fingers point to Atari’s ET, a historic commercial failure. Atari: Game Over is the story of the rise and fall of Atari and also investigates the story that Atari buried unsold copies of ET in the New Mexico desert. Available for purchase or rental on YouTube.
Based on the insightful book by Blake J. Harris from 2014, this feature-length documentary dives into the astonishing clash of the early 1990s when Sega challenged Nintendo’s grip on the gaming market. Sonic the Hedgehog faced off against Mario, hideous ad battles fought for your attention, and things got bloody for censored vs. uncensored Mortal Kombat. They evoke memories for anyone who was there, or create an amazing tale for anyone who wasn’t.
Console Wars introduces you to a host of colorful figures from the video game industry of yesteryear. A particularly notable presence is former Sega of America CEO Tom Kalinske, who also oversaw the revival of He-Man and Barbie for Mattel. Currently, the only way to watch it is with a Paramount Plus subscription, which starts at $5 a month.
If you want to immerse yourself in the history of video games more generally, Netflix’s six-part documentary High Score is the way to go. Each episode covers a specific element of the industry, such as the fall of Atari, the rise of Nintendo, and Street Fighter 2’s impact on esports. The Sega Challenge segment has some crossover with Console Wars, providing a more rounded perspective on the story if you watch both.
High Score feels a little unfocused at times, but it gives you a satisfying overall look at the evolution of gaming since the 1970s. All six episodes are now available on Netflix.
This feature-length documentary focuses on Sony’s 1994 entry into the video game market with the little gray PlayStation, one of the first consoles with widespread adult appeal. Big names from the brand’s 25-year history – such as current PlayStation boss Jim Ryan, Metal Gear Solid head Hideo Kojima, PS5 lead architect Mark Cerny and Resident Evil co-creator Shinji Mikami – weigh in on just how big a deal 3D games have been , and marketing execs reveal how they make Sony’s console cool.
The PS2, PS3, and PS4 segments are much shorter, but offer a nice overview as the PS5 establishes itself. It’s now available for streaming, Blu-ray and DVD.