Let’s face it: representations of gamers and game culture in popular media have never been exactly...flattering. From films to television and pretty much everything in between, the stereotype of the “typical gamer” is of some slacker loser, rotting away, friendless and penniless, on his parents’ couch.

But if you know anything about gaming and game culture, then you know that image isn’t just wrong—it’s offensive. So if you want to see media that gets game culture right, then you’re probably going to need to ditch the pop culture references and turn to documentaries. 

In this article, we’ll introduce you to some of the best gaming documentaries ever made and what they reveal about game culture and those who live it!

Minecraft: The Story of Mojang

Minecraft: The Story of Mojang is a behind-the-scenes coming of age story of one of the most popular—and profitable—video games of all time. It chronicles the evolution of the game from the initial spark of an idea to industry blockbuster, underscoring the hours of blood, sweat, and tears it took to get there.

But the success story told in Minecraft is also the success story of the industry itself. It illuminates the fact that gaming does not mean resigning yourself to a life without direction, success, or cash. In fact, gaming is rapidly becoming one of the most lucrative segments of the vast entertainment industry, with eSports in particular poised to draw bigger audiences and higher revenues than either the NFL or MLB!

Thank You For Playing

Thank You For Playing is a rare jewel of a find, one that powerfully depicts a father’s efforts to cope as his young son battled cancer in the only way a game-developer dad has—by building a video game that allowed others to learn about the experience via vignettes, activities, and narrations.

If you’re looking to find the heart in the industry, this documentary is the place to go—gaming isn’t just about the head and hands. For example, gaming technologies are increasingly being used in health counseling and therapeutics to help patients suffering from a host of debilitating mental and physical illnesses, ranging from depression and PTSD to traumatic brain injuries and mobility impairments.

The Lost Arcade

The Lost Arcade is a fun and exciting romp through the arcade culture of the 1980s, and it can be awesome viewing for anyone who wants to know more about the origins of today’s video game culture or simply the various communities that seem to spring up around gaming.

This is also must-see viewing to get you in the spirit for your own first gaming convention and you want to get a feel for where it all started and how!

Free To Play

Free to Play isn’t just about games and how they are developed and marketed. Above all, it’s about professional gamers and their competitive lives. It’s the story of three working-class competitors all vying for the same $1 million purse and the chance to change their lives.

Best of all, Free to Play is not only a fascinating story, but it’s also perfect viewing for your next game night. Watching how the best of the best compete might just bring your next home tourney to a whole new level!

Getting in on the Action

Now that you and your crew have loaded up some rocking documentaries on the game culture you know and love, maybe it’s time you get back in on the action yourselves! Following your documentary film fest with a game fest can make for one unforgettable weekend!

But you need to plan it right: games ain’t cheap. Anyone who’s been gaming for more than a minute knows that all too well. Nevertheless, you can still have a gaming blowout without blowing your budget. There are all kinds of tricks you can use to keep your gaming library on point and still keep the lights on and snacks on the table. Look for online games and game streaming subscriptions, and don’t forget to check into retailer discounts and promotions! 

If you and your gang are going to be doing some heavy gaming, though, you need to make sure you’re protected. Wrist supports can help protect your hands across those long gaming sessions, while blue light blockers will keep those peepers in prime gaming conditions!

The Takeaway

Gamers and game culture are widely misunderstood and misrepresented in popular culture. However, there is a virtual library of documentaries out there that get the gaming world right, from chronicling the rise of the arcade to tracing the evolution of a blockbuster industry to thoughtfully exploring the healing powers of gaming. So the next time you and your fellow gamers get together, why not make it a movie night as well? No matter your particular interest, there’s a gaming documentary made for you!