For some, gaming represents no more than a pleasant diversion. But the truly devoted gamers highlighted in the documentary More Than a Game live for the thrill of competition. They are the masters of their domain, and they enjoy a tremendous sense of self-respect and achievement with every win. They inhabit a fascinating underworld that teeters on the edge of becoming a mainstream phenomenon, and their success is entirely dependent upon their strength of coordination, concentration and character.
It all started with the release of Street Fighter, an inventive and addicting multi-character fighting game designed by Capcom. This hugely influential release gained worldwide popularity with each new iteration. Before long, it birthed a global movement where enthusiastic players could join together for tournament play. The Evolution Championship Series, or EVO, serves as the central setting for More Than a Game, but the film also provides an intimate look at the daily lives of the players, particularly two previous champions as they prepare to compete in defense of their title.
What's the difference between a casual player and a tournament player? "Mental health," answers interview subject and former Capcom game designer Seth Killian. Gaming is more than a hobby for these top-tier competitive players; it's a profession. Much like professional athletes, they hone their considerable skills through a strictly disciplined practice regimen, and they feel an enormous sense of responsibility to their sponsors, home countries and adoring fans.
They travel the globe to participate in various qualifying tournaments, and make oftentimes humorous and unconvincing attempts at trash talking their opponents like joystick warriors on a pixelated battle field. They are prideful, determined, obsessive and mentally acute. In this world of competitive play, the games that many look upon as frivolous entertainments take on nearly mythological proportions. Street Fighter becomes an extension of each player's public persona and personal identity.
Game play can be serious business. Directed by Thomas Hewett and Jack Abbot, More Than a Game is an infectiously fun and stimulating peek inside a culture where even the most awkward of geeks can experience the intoxicating swoon of world championship victory.