I just watched The Video Game Revolution on PBS. It has a nice overview of the history of video games, and interviews on a wide range of topics with a host of gaming luminaries: Shigeru Miyamoto, Sid Meier, Seamus Blackley, Will Wright, Nolan Bushnell, Henry Jenkins, etc.

Maybe I’m overly sensitive today because I’m taking a class on television at the U of M (and spent the weekend reading about suture this, shot selection that, male gaze the other), but I found myself being annoyed with a lot of the editing choices the producers made. In one scene, an interviewee talks about how the attendees of a LAN-gaming convention aren’t just a bunch of “pasty white guys wearing black clothing;” while he speaks, shots flow by of convention attendees entering the hall, almost all of whom are… pasty white guys wearing black clothing. In another segment, Megan Gaiser of Her Interactive discusses making games for girls and women that don’t just fall into the binary opposition of Barbie/Quake, but her remarks are bracketed by a mother-daughter “girl’s night” where they bake cookies in between games and the mothers extoll the virtues of drinking milk. The chapter on the Columbine-Doom controversy gives time to both anti-violence advocates and defenders of gaming, but backs their debate with a montage of glassy-eyed boys playing various light-gun games.

Despite the mixed messages sent by some of the editing, the documentary as a whole is still a very good survey of the gaming landscape. It’s awfully easy to quibble about specifics in a broad piece like this (choices of representative games, no mention of the retro gaming, indie gaming, or game studies scenes), but all in all they do a good job of covering the major areas. It’s worth watching if you’ve got a couple of hours free (or skimming if you’ve got less).