The best video game documentaries to watch in 2023

The best video game documentaries to watch in 2023

The best video game documentaries to watch in 2023

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Have you ever wondered how Sony ended up breaking into the video game industry? 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 the real The 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 like the PlayStation 5 and Xbox series X or in the hype around hit releases. But video games have a long and storied history, and even the most casual gamer will find these industry histories fascinating.

To discover the fascinating history of your favorite games and consoles, sit back and watch these gaming-related movies.

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Almost everyone agrees that King of Kong is awesome. The documentary is about a battle between Billy, a restaurant owner, and Steve, a science teacher, who compete to see which of them is the best Donkey Kong player in the world. But this description does not ignore the intrigue, the eccentricity and the madness of this tale.

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AAA games like Cyberpunk 2077 or Final Fantasy 7 Remake require a small army of developers and a nine-figure budget. Indie games are made with a lot less, usually by less than a few people. Sometimes they are made by one person.

Indie Game: The Movie shows the courage, dedication and perseverance required of indie developers. This award-winning documentary is available to rent or purchase on Amazon Prime Video.

Just as the dotcom bubble burst at the turn of the century, the video game market crashed in the early 80s. There were many causes, but many fingers point to ET on the Atari, a historic business flop . Atari: Game Over is the story of the rise and fall of Atari, and it also investigates the story that Atari buried unsold copies of ET in the New Mexico desert. It is available for purchase or rental on YouTube.


Based on the insightful 2014 book by Blake J. Harris, this feature-length documentary delves into the jaw-dropping showdown of the early ’90s when Sega challenged Nintendo’s stranglehold on the gaming market. Sonic the Hedgehog went up against Mario, heinous publicity battles have been fought for your attention, and things have gotten bloody about censored versus uncensored Mortal Kombat. They awaken memories for all those who were there, or the ingredients of an extraordinary story for those who were not there.

Console Wars introduces you to a host of colorful characters from the video game industry of yesteryear. A particularly notable presence is former Sega of America CEO Tom Kalinske, who also orchestrated the revival of He-Man and Barbie for Mattel. Right now, the only way to watch it is with a Paramount Plus subscription, which starts at $5 a month.


If you’re looking to delve into gaming history more broadly, the six-part Netflix 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 influence on esports. Sega’s challenge segment has some crossover with Console Wars, offering a more complete perspective on the story if you watch both.

High Score feels a bit fuzzy at times, but gives you a satisfying overall look at how the game has developed since the ’70s. All six episodes are available now on Netflix.


This feature-length documentary focuses on Sony’s entry into the video game market in 1994 with its small gray PlayStation, one of the first consoles to widely appeal to adults. Big names from the brand’s 25-year history – like current PlayStation boss Jim Ryan, Metal Gear Solid mastermind Hideo Kojima, PS5 lead architect Mark Cerny and Resident Evil co-creator Shinji Mikami – weigh how important 3D gaming was, and marketers reveal how they make Sony’s console cool.

The segments on PS2, PS3 and PS4 are much shorter, but offer a nice look as the PS5 takes hold. It is now available on streaming, Blu-ray and DVD.


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