I´ve seen pretty much of all of the bakers dozen of game documentaries made in the past several years, Playing Columbine was my favorite not because I have a brief appearance but because it got a broad variety of voices together and examined games both "Serious" and "punk", and lots of other games that can be described with adjectives that need quotations around them. Moral Kombat I wasn´t too impressed with, but Danny Ledonne (Playing Columbine´s director/Micheal Moore) had a different opinion. To my feeble judgement, its a sad comment on the film medium´s apprehension of games that the best documentaries I can point to are so incestuously featured. Fortunately I just got a new high water mark.
This episode of German/French documentary series, english title "Into The Night" features the meeting of my two favorite game designers, Jason Rohrer and Chris Crawford. Having seen the whole thing I can say that the quality of ideas, the way their conversations are framed, and the humanity between them really brings the whole ivory tower aspects of game design down to earth. If the object of these documentaries is to bridge games as a high to the wider world of New York Times reading film goers, then this is perhaps the most effective. Its primary audience will be Europeans when it airs on July 2nd, and for that it will probably get further than it would if it aired in the States. For you folks, the proverbial choir, I have the above teaser clip. In two weeks they´ll provide an online streaming version we´ll have that in tow.
Basically the first half gives you a concentrated dose of Play This Thing!-esque critique, but its delivered by a grizzled old vet and an optimistic tall guy instead of... a grizzled old vet and an optimistic medium-height guy. They tear into PixelJunk Eden and the general spectacle of GDC and then talk about each others work. I´ve known Chris since 2005 and have tried to say "hey, this is kind of neat" over and over, consistently getting "I´ve seen all this before" kind of answers - so for Chris to praise Jason´s work is a truly high complement.
The second half of the episode involves them discussing their evolution as designers and what their current aspirations are. Chris inadvertently paints a sympathetic portrait of himself where, even if you think Storytron is junk, still evokes a sense that this guy has had the will to try for his personal Everest, and that deserves some respect. Jason plays a more subdued counter-point, and typical of a youngster, makes the case for month-long projects instead of decade long ones.
Highly recommended for all students of game design, indie developers, wanna-be auteurs and already auteurs, and also for mainstream developers who think Chris Crawford is an old bastard.