Over a year ago, we interviewed documentarian Jeanette Garcia about her plans to write, produce, and premiere World 1-1, a film focused on the history and development of video games. In October 2013, the project was in its Kickstarter stages and no one [read: I] was really sure whether it would ultimately reach its funding goal. Now, Garcia and co-producer Daryl Rodriguez have seen this dream come to fruition. They have premiered their captivating and informative documentary in San Francisco and Miami and are launching digital distribution on January 15, 2015.
The film, mostly comprised of interviews with some of the biggest names and personas in video game history, takes the audience in the beginning from the development of computers during World War II, through the rise and fall of Atari in the 1970s and 1980s, and finally to the end, in which the film hints at the subject matter of its sequel — the dawn of Nintendo. It features extended interviews with people I previously did not know existed and now I am really interested in learning more about, people like Nolan Bushnell, Steve Mayer, and Al Alcorn — founding members of Atari — and a number of other scholars and video game designers and developers who were part of the advent of video games.
Aside from the impressive camera and audio work, mainly attributable to Daryl Rodriguez, what struck me most about the film is that in it, Garcia and Rodriguez were able to take a topic (the history, development, marketing, and distribution of video games) that might not appeal to very many, and make it compelling and interesting for a wide swath of people. Garcia and Rodriguez were able to do this because they captured a story not just about video games, but a story of technology and the integral role played by video games in making people around the world comfortable with the practice of having computerized technology in their homes and in their hands, long before the home computer or the cell phone became ubiquitous. They were able to weave into their film the story of the corporatization of a company and the ramifications that come as a result of installing a rigid organizational model and out-of-touch executives.
Garcia and Rodriguez traveled around the country interviewing and researching for the film; they captured over 40 hours of footage that had to be edited down into a two-hour cut. They quit jobs for this and worked hundreds of hours putting this documentary together. But even the viewer who does not feel such extensive devotion (or any devotion, for that matter) to video games can still enjoy, learn from, and become invested in this film.
Five stars for World 1-1, and infinity stars to Jeanette Garcia and Daryl Rodriguez for this impressive first film, one that we hope will be the first of many.
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