Rachel Alvis, Bryce Bates, Benjamin Baker, Alex Garfield, Sundance DiGiovanni
WRITTEN AND DIRECTED BY
Greg "Idra" Fields is set up early on in Mary Ratliff's documentary Good Game to be sort of the bad boy of the world we're about to experience, that of Starcraft 2 and the competitive empire created around it. Whether he earns that sort of designation or not, Fields is certainly one of the most compelling and talented figures to compete in esports.
Conceived and directed by Mary Ratliff, Good Game follows the Evil Geniuses, a Starcraft 2 Squad, over the course of several months between 2011 - 2012, a time period when Starcraft 2 was at the top of the heap and such gaming was filled with warranted hype, niche' celebs, and enough cash to support both leagues and championship competitions around the world. The Evil Geniuses were both one of the most heavily sponsored teams and widely regarded as one of the most media friendly. Fields was a part of the Evil Geniuses, at least until he was quoted in a post to fans saying "“You’re all a bunch of fucks, it just so happens I get paid to treat you like it” and was subsequently let go by the team.
The film, more than anything, is a gift to Starcraft 2 players and/or anyone involved in esports. Ratliff, perhaps wisely, remains faithful to the scne in terms of visuals and language and, as a result, my gut tells me that anyone outside the gaming community is going to spend more than a few of the film's 73 minutes a bit confused.
Ratliff does a nice job of giving equal opportunity to the various characters involved in the EG team, though I found myself at times hoping for less balance and more compelling stories. While Good Game kicks off rather compellingly with Fields, though the attention it gives him is rather sketchy over the course of the film. The same is true for Alex Garfield, EG's owner and one of the film's more natural speakers, but whom we don't see nearly often enough over the course of the film.
The list goes on and on.
This doesn't mean, not by any stretch, that Ratliff is unsuccessful with Good Game, though it probably does speak to the difficulty of creating a compelling and entertaining film set within the world of esports. There are scenes that work wonders, especially those involving actual gaming, and fans of the gaming community may just marvel at how much things have changed in just a few years. I found myself absolutely captivated at the culture of Starcraft 2. I wanted more of Chris "Huk" Loranger, a former Fields rival turned teammate who made for quite the involving character. I wanted more gaming, less extraneous information and far less in the way of silly comments from proud parents.
Good Game has been picked up by Devolver Digital for a VOD distribution and is also available on DVD from Nine Hour Films. While it likely won't prove to be compelling cinema for those unfamiliar with the world of esports, Good Game will likely excite and entertain the hundreds of thousands of gamers worldwide. For more information on the film, visit the Good Game website linked to in the credits.
Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic