It turns out that the recently released BBC Docudrama, Gamechangers, is actually pretty horrible. I haven't watched it myself but after reading a review I found online, I'm not sure I even want to watch it for myself. Here's a quote from the review:
The film’s portrayal of the battle between infamous moral crusader Jack Thompson and Rockstar Games from around 2002-2008 attempts to humanise the games industry, to an extent, but it still just can’t let go of the notion that games are dangerous.
That last part is the problem for me. While, yeah, sure, it can be argued that violent video games might have an effect on young people; it can also be argued that any form of violent media can have the same influence on them.
Keza MacDonald gives an in-depth review/synopsis of the movie in her review (linked above) and it seems like they make a villain out of Sam Houser. And I'm not sure that should be the case. A lot of games we play today have been influenced by the open-world game type of Grand Theft Auto. One (mostly non-violent) game that comes to mind is Minecraft. I'm unsure if something like that would have existed if there wasn't a precedent set by Houser and Rockstar Games that open-world games can exist.
Even if they still wanted to go down the route of painting Houser as somewhat of a bad guy, it seems they didn't care to round him out in the writing. There was an opportunity here to show the importance of the game within the realm of the games industry. Yes, the was a controversy -- there's no denying that -- but making video games the sole reason behind one person's violent actions and telling that particular story is pretty, well, irresponsible.
I had spent most of my academic career writing, analyzing, and criticizing video games as a form of art. As something that is just as important as film, television, or literature. There's something completely disheartening about all of this. It seems we (and I do mean, we, all of us) cannot get past this idea that games are not art. The number of voices of people screaming for games to be considered an art form are outnumbered by those who think it's a waste of time as well as those within the community who put more value in exclusivity than being wholly inclusive.
As much as I love video games and everything surrounding it. I also hate them. This is one of the reasons why. For a movie called Gamechangers, it does not change anything. It reinforces stereotypes and keeps people (like me) who love video games stuck sitting at the kid's table.