It’s no surprise that Hollywood is infatuated with casinos and gaming. For decades the glitz, the glamour, and opulence have attracted audiences in great numbers. Conversely, in our review of Mississippi Grind the film shows how there is a darker human side to casinos and gaming. With that in mind, let’s explore four documentaries that discuss the world’s obsession with gaming.
Bingo! The Documentary (1999)
John Jeffcoat’s film is an exploration of the bingo subculture that exists in the US and the UK. It shows the eccentric yet tightly-knit people who play and how it has found its way into halls, churches and community centres. Bingo! also traces the game’s earliest history into the modern era and its evolution. Flickside reveals that it is now played in alternative bars in New York as well as in raves in Liverpool and the rest of the UK. In fact, the UK has a favourite version of the game, which is slightly different to the standard form of bingo. Foxy Bingo details how 90-ball is the UK’s favourite version of the game and how it has been played since the 1960s in halls across the country. Through the film, Jeffcoat studies how bingo created such a distinct culture and how by creating a community around it has remained popular after all these years.
The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters (2007)
The King of Kong was included in the list of Best Movies of 2007 and garnered critical acclaim like no other video game movie to date. Director Seth Gordon’s documentary focuses on one of gaming’s most intense high-score rivalries, which is centred on one of history’s most notoriously difficult video game: the classic Donkey Kong arcade game. It’s a David vs. Goliath epic, in which Steve Wiebe faces off against the bully of the arcade era, Billy Mitchell. Their lifelong quest and obsession to get the highest score ever on the old arcade platformer is shown in gritty detail and is captivating whether you’re a video gamer or not.
Ka-Ching! Pokie Nation (2015)
Released four years ago, Mitzi Goldman’s film looks at the poker machines found in casinos, clubs and pubs around Australia. The award-winning documentary looks at these machines as the modern-day equivalent of the Trojan Horse. A master of disguise which has been quietly infiltrated into the community since the 1950s and has embedded itself into the social structure. Goldman claims Australia has more pokie machines and a higher spend per capita than anywhere else in the world and how these machines have been targeted at the poorest Australians. The film hopes to change public awareness around pokie machines and change legislation related to their proliferation.
Breaking Point (Team Liquid) (2016)
Arguably the most controversial of eSports documentaries of all time, Damian Estradas’ documentary was entirely produced and made by Team Liquid. It is a look at the rising eSports culture and the highs and lows of this intense industry. The film follows the chaos and problems that plagued the team’s League of Legends roster, and how their performance suffers as a result of bad management, egos and poor results. Centring on the team’s star players, Joshua “Dardoch” Hartnett and Chase “Piglet” Gwang-jin and their eventual fall from grace, viewers are walked through the team’s complete breakdown. It eventually meant the collapse of League of Legend’s most promising stories. While the two have moved on since, the film still stands as the best and most poignant eSports documentaries ever made.