I recently watched two series of documentaries on video games, The Video Game Revolution by PBS and Gamer Revolution by CBC. Both covered the current hot topics, like violence, virtual communities and military recruitment. But the viewpoints were quite different.
For instance, I can’t recall anyone mentioning sex in the PBS one in more than a passing mention. Yet the CBC one had a whole big section on it, talking about the sex RPGs out there in the States and how it’s revolutionizing how people are exploring their sexuality.
The biggest most glaring difference, however, was their take on the same story about one gamer called Neverdie in an MMO called Entropia Universe. The PBS story covered how this man, a single father, mortgaged his home, risking his financial future, and implicitly that of his son’s as well, to purchase virtual property in this game. Luckily, the go on, people are renting space in his new property and he’s come out on top, an instant millionaire. Rags to riches, against all odds, risky undertakings. Seemed to imply to me that maybe his wife left him because he was being so wanton with the family money.
Well, CBC told that story and a bit more. They show a heart-breaking shot of the father and the kid sitting at the table eating, this little 4-year-old saying repeatedly “Why did mommy die? Why did mommy die?” Turns out there’s more to the story. The husband adored his wife. They gamed in that virtual world together. He adored his gamer chick so much that he wrote a song about how awesome it was to have a gamer chick and that went on to become a hit song in their virtual universe. Everyone knew he was the artist and she was his muse. They were celebrities! Then one day she dies. And he talks about how hard it was for him to return to that world and break the news to their virtual, but oh so real, friends.
I found it really surprising that PBS skipped that part. They really stuck to the meat and potatoes of the gaming news. Sure they crammed a lot in and had some awesome industry interviews. But they seemed to miss out on the heart of the story. CBC really showed the Canadian-ness of their production, by not covering nearly as much, but going into each story much more in-depth and making the people much more real.
It’s a gaming revolution right now, sure, both agree on that. But I agree with CBC, it’s about more than just 1s and 0s, about more than hotshot industry insiders. It’s about the people playing the games and living out the stories.