The 10 Best Video Game Documentaries (According To Rotten Tomatoes)

Video games have quite a few documentaries, but which are the best? We go to Rotten Tomatoes for the answers so let's look at these movies.

Whilst there has been considerable debate, it's difficult to argue sensibly against video games being art. Much like movies or TV shows, video games are lovingly crafted experiences brought to life by the efforts and skills of all kinds of artists: storytellers, designers, programmers, musicians and more.

As a result, the way all of these collaborations and component parts come together is truly fascinating and well worth exploring in-depth, but there's more to video games than just the craft. There are the human stories, the player rivalries, the cultural movements, the trailblazers and the obsessives.

To celebrate, and with a little help from Rotten Tomatoes, we count down the best documentaries which focus on the phenomenon of the video game industry. Just to be clear, we're going by the overall percentage from combining audience and critics scores.

Related: Lost To Time: 10 Popular Arcade Games That Were Never Ported To Consoles

10 GTFO: Get The F&#% Out, 2015 (70%)

Over the years, gaming has been considered a mostly male pursuit. The games are predominantly led by male protagonists, their representations of women are typically unrealistic and they're marketed directly at a majority male audience.

After watching a clip of rampant sexism in competitive gaming, director Shannon Sun-Higginson set out to explore the experience of women in the games industry and expose the shamefully sexist attitudes, discrimination and outright abuse that continues to this day.

GTFO is a much-needed wake-up call for the industry and consumers alike but, perhaps ironically, the views of a male-dominated audience appear to still be reflected in the criminally low audience 38%.

9 The Lost Arcade, 2015 (71%)

Video game arcades. Remember them? Before the advent of home consoles, they were the only way to play the latest video game releases and for a long time afterwards still held the best versions of many games.

The Lost Arcade focusses on Chinatown Fair; one of the oldest video game arcades in New York City. The arcade, located in NYC's Chinatown, became a haven for a community of fans of classic fighting games and when news broke of its impending closure, The Lost Arcade hit Kickstarter to preserve its history.

The documentary explores the stories of the people who worked there and gamed there, how it enriched their lives and how Chinatown Fair survived its own demise to re-open and remain popular to this day.

8 Life 2.0, 2011 (72.5%)

If you could live a virtual second life, would you? And how would you choose to live it? Life 2.0 follows people doing just that, choosing to live out alternative lives within a game.

Linden Lab's Second Life is not really a game in the traditional sense, it's more of a 3D life simulator where you can explore, socialize, build and trade and the documentary explores the lives of some of the residents of this virtual world, both on and offline, and how these separate lives affect one another.

How does spending most of your time in a virtual world affect your life, your relationships and even your sanity, back in the physical world?

Related: 10 Best Online Life Simulation Games

7 Free to Play, 2014 (76%)

Free To Play is a documentary film from Valve, famous as the creators of Half-Life and for building the extremely popular games store and online service: Steam.

One of Valve's most popular franchises is Defence of the Ancients (DotA) a free to play multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) game that originally started as a mod for Warcraft III.

Free to Play follows three DotA gamers as they compete in the International, a competition that will net the winning team a cool $1 million US dollars. The film explores how their daily lives and those of their families are affected by their ambitions to be full-time professional gamers.

A fascinating look at what it takes to be a professional gamer.

Related: 10 Best Free Sandbox Games You Should Be Playing

6 Thank You For Playing, 2016 (79.5%)

If your child was diagnosed with terminal cancer, how would you cope? In the case of Ryan and Amy Green, when their son Joel was diagnosed at 12 months old, they decided to create a video game to convey their feelings and experiences to others.

Thank You for Playing documents the development process of the game that became That Dragon, Cancer and how its focus changed during Joel's illness and following his death in 2014.

Following the Greens through this difficult period is heartbreaking but it's also life-affirming to see how misfortune and grief can be used as motivation to create something for good and to help others cope and understand.

5 Man vs. Snake: The Long and Twisted Tale of Nibbler, 2015 (Critics: 89%, Audience: 75%, Overall: 82%)

Nibbler, released in 1982, is an arcade game that tasks the player with guiding an object munching snake around a maze. With every object munched, the snake increases in length and if it munches its own body it's game over. It's a style of game re-popularised in the 90s' when a version of the game was released on Nokia mobile phones.

Man vs Snake follows Tim McVey who recorded a score of over a billion points on a Nibbler arcade machine back in 1984, becoming a legend in the process. Many years later, an Italian man claims to have beaten McVey's score a few months after his initial record was set and so, despite the challenger's score not being officially recognized, Tim sets out to beat it.

This documentary is a fun and compelling exploration of the legendary status afforded to those early record-breakers in video games.

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4 Ecstasy of Order: The Tetris Masters, 2011 (89%)

In 2010 the Classic World Tetris Championship was held in Los Angeles, California. It was a chance for the greatest Tetris champions from across the world to meet and compete for the accolade of the greatest Tetris player in the world.

Ecstacy of Order documents the origins and worldwide popularity of the famous shape-rotating puzzle game and features interviews with the original developer and the players determined to become the best of the best.

3 Minecraft: The Story of Mojang, 2012 (90%)

If you've never heard of Minecraft, where have you been hiding? What started as a novel idea and modest creation of a single indie developer in 2009 has now become a behemoth of a franchise that shows no signs of losing popularity any time soon.

The Story of Mojang tells the tale of the early years of Minecraft's development following the expansion from one-man-band, Marcus "Notch" Persson, to fully-fledged game development studio.

Featuring loads of interviews with developers, industry figureheads and journalists, The Story of Mojang shows that with a great idea, a great deal of hard work and a little bit of luck, the chance for huge success is truly out there.

Related: 10 Things That Make No Sense About Minecraft

2 Indie Game: The Movie, 2012 92.5%

Indie Game: The Movie, as the name suggests, shines its light on the development of games by small independent developers. In particular, the film focusses on the two-man development team of Super Meat Boy (Edmund McMillen and Tommy Refenes) and the solo developers of Braid (Jonathan Blow) and Fez (Phil Fish).

Indie Game gives a unique insight into the ideas behind these games and how the developers inject their personalities, likes, hates and fears into their games. It also follows the struggles of small game developers, from financial insecurity to relationship breakdowns to health problems resulting from the dreaded crunch.

If you ever wondered what it takes for your favorite indie games to make it onto your PC or games console, Indie Game: The Movie is the perfect documentary for you and guaranteed to open your eyes.

1 The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters, 2007  (94.5%)

A Fistful of Quarters tells the story of newcomer Steve Wiebe as he breaks long-standing champion Billy Mitchell's high score in Donkey Kong. It also delves somewhat into the history of Twin Galaxies, the official keeper of video game records.

It's a fascinating film that takes a look at some of the most influential and notorious personalities of the scene and uncovers the lengths some people are willing to go to, to protect their records and their infamy.

The story this documentary tells is intriguing, baffling, frustrating and funny, but most of all it's essential viewing. If you ask anyone what the best video game documentary is, it's a pretty safe bet that they'll say The King of Kong.

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