14 of the best gaming films to be watching right now
© Linsey Wojteczko/Red Bull Content Pool
These free and fascinating documentaries are just a click away and ready to take you on deep dive of every aspect of gaming culture.
Much as we’d like to, it's not possible to play video games at every hour of the day. Occasionally you need a bit of a rest period – and you’d be wise to fill it with one of these binge-worthy documentaries.
So, we've raided the archive of Red Bull TV for a list of films which put gaming at the forefront. Best of all, you don’t even need to leave this page to find them.
1. Game Loading
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Going behind the scenes with indie developers across the globe, this eye-opening documentary delves deep into the real life stories at the heart of some of these unique titles, including That Dragon, Cancer, an immersive title by Ryan and Amy Green retelling their four-year-old’s son battle with cancer with a point and click adventure game to capture their highs and lows. It also covers the darker side of the industry, too, including nefarious tactics deployed by 'cloners' who steal entire games before developers have even had a chance to copyright.
2. Against the Odds
Against the Odds
Charting the biggest fairytale in esports history, Against the Odds is an all-access look at how Team OG came back from rock bottom to win The International 18. Going into the event with a team who had never played together, including a former coach drafted in at the last minute, and given no chance by casters and fans alike, this ragtag Dota 2 outfit went on to lift the biggest prize of all in stunning fashion, defying expectations while having fun along the way. Good luck removing that smile that's set to be plastered on your face.
3. The Ripple Effect
You might not know the name, but you’ll have felt the influence of Nolan Bushnell, founder of Atari and gaming arcade deity. Part of Red Bull’s Ripple Effect series, which examines entrepreneurs who changed youth culture forever, this episode sits down with the great man himself to chat about how he combined his amusement park background with electronics expertise to create Pong. Yes, Pong! Revisiting his humble beginnings, then Pongmania, before his departure from the company and the ill-fated gaming crash of 1983, it should be mandatory viewing for any pop culture nerd.
4. Esports Unfold
Get to know the real JerAx
You watch them on Twitch, sure, but how much do you truly know about your favourite gamers? This glossy production provides an inside look at the lives and backstories of the biggest names in esports away from the packed arenas, spending time with the stars in their home environments alongside those closest to them. Interviewees so far include OG’s Topson and JerAx and former FIFA world champion Agge. Sumptuously shot, the episodes are mini masterpieces in themelves.
5. Wreck or Get Rekt
Wreck or Get Rekt
If you thought the trash-talk between the characters of Street Fighter was a little close to the bone, try the verbal sparring between Americans ThatDemoGuy and Quinton, two rival fighting game players who compete for ultimate bragging rights in this film and aren't shy in expressing it. A world away from the packed arenas of Red Bull Kumite, their matchups take place in closeted if boisterous backrooms, taking the game right back to its arcade roots.
6. Diggin' in the Carts
The rise of VGM
In case you’ve been living in a cave blissfully unaware of Guile’s Theme by Yoko Shimomura (an absolute banger), you’ll know that no nation has had a bigger impact on video game music than Japan. Comprised of six short but sweet episodes, this series is a love letter to the country and its influence on VGM, speaking to some great minds about the games, genres, audiences and technology of old that have shaped how we play. It’s 8-bit special.
7. The Art of Street Fighting
The Art of Street Fighting
Another one for the Capcom heads, The Art of Street Fighting is a riveting film about the biggest players on today's Street Fighter V scene. Speaking to the likes of Luffy, Xiao Hai, Tokido, Gamerbee, and of course the Beast himself, Diago, as they gear up for Red Bull Kumite, it lays bare mental and physical hardships, fractious rivalries, insider slights (see: NuckleDu’s teabagging) and precisely what goes into being one of the world’s elite.
8. Conquest Road Trip
Sometimes it’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey. So, to tie in with Red Bull Conquest, America’s foremost regional fighting game series, pro gamers Anakin and Snake Eyez embarked on a road trip to a bunch of US cities, stopping off at local fighting game communities along the way and meeting with gamers on the ground. And no, they didn't encounter any bison...
Challenges and gaming go hand in hand all right, but what about when those challenges that happen away from the screen? In 2015, Leffen, a Swedish Super Smash Bros. Melee professional, was denied entry to the US after authorities claimed the game wasn’t an official sport. Then number two in the world, it was a monumental setback for his career. The second season of Cultivation follows Leffen’s long road back to regaining his seat at the game’s biggest table.
10. Gaming The Real World
Gaming the Real World
Can Minecraft change the world? That’s the main question of this fiercely intelligent documentary examining how a crop of visionary gamers and developers are using the video game to make an impact in real cities. Transforming previously inhabitable areas and shaping streets of the future, it proves just how valuable game development can be. Trust us, you’ll dig it.
Co-creator of Doom making games for his kids? Check. Arcade archaeologists blowing the cobwebs off vintage hardware? You bet. Collaboration between a celebrated erotica author and an indie developer? Yep, that's covered. No matter the gaming subculture, if it's quirky and interesting it's likely been unearthed by the makers of Screenland for this spectacularly moreish nine-part series.
12. Part of the Game
Such is the way online technology has connected the gaming world – or homogenised, depending how you look at it – it’s too easy to lose sight of gaming communities and tribes within specific cities and the role the industry plays on a societal level. This series packs a suitcase and heads for destinations across the world including São Paulo and Istanbul to see which games thrive in certain areas and what impact games have. A powerful reminder of the physical connection that games give us.
Dan, the gamer with a bionic arm
Look beneath the billion dollar franchises and glitzy world of esports and you can uncover a raft of true life gaming heroes. Just take Daniel Melville, a gamer with a prosthetic arm inspired by a character from Deus Ex; or Mia Stellberg, a sports psychologist who helps pro gamers deal with mental pressure in order to perform at their best. Both of these figures have been profiled brilliantly for this mini doc series Prism, available now.
Behind the scenes of Cuphead
From why the world fell in love with the achingly beautiful Monument Valley, to exploring super progressive values behind indie studio Motion Twin, makers of platformer Dead Cells, this six-episode series reveals the lengths developers go to for their craft, finding those who’ve sacrificed for their art and why it matters. It'll give you a newfound respect for the humble pixel.