Thursday, July 9, 2020

Gamemaster Review: Indie Board Game The Movie

Release date: July 7, 2020
Running time: 97 minutes
Starring: Alex Yeager, Jason Serrato, Nashra Balagamwala

Gamemaster is a documentary that takes a deep dive into the world of the board game industry and the creators behind popular games.  The board game industry has experienced a sort of renaissance in the last couple of years, and this documentary highlights the gains it has made, some of its prolific creators, and also the culture and conventions that are big in the industry.  

You can't watch this movie without thinking about one of my favorite documentaries of all time, Indie Game: the Movie.  Gamemaster has a lot of similarities with that film.  It takes a look at a fast growing entertainment product in the middle of a renaissance.  It also documents independent creators at a time when they are enjoying increased access to the market and new avenues for distribution.  The film takes a very big picture view.  Gamemaster doesn't just focus on games; large chunks of the documentary are dedicated to the business of board games and the surrounding culture.  There is a lot of very interesting information about how a board game gets made, what business decisions need to happen to bring a board game to market, balancing your vision with the realities of the industry and your market, and also some of the benefits and pitfalls of running a family business.  It really is a great primer for anyone interested in a creative endeavor and should not be missed simply because it focuses on board games.

Additionally, one major positive difference from Indie Game: the Movie is the diverse viewpoints that are heard in Gamemaster.  As much as I love Indie Game and the developers that they chose (who all very much deserved to be in the film), they were all white males.  Gamemaster, on the other hand, has viewpoints from white males, women, and diverse individuals to give a much broader view of independent gaming.  The cast of characters really make this a strong documentary.  Many of the subjects highlighted in these independent games directly relate to the diverse experiences and upbringings of their creators.  There is a Pakistani woman making a board game about arranged marriages, or a Latino man making a board game about minority culture in the cities.  It is a welcome addition and great to see so many views in one documentary.  I really enjoyed a contrasting story between two different family-owned board game companies, and the different experiences that their families had.  And the documentary is not only focused on North America.  As the board game business is a global business, the documentary highlights creators, stories, and conferences from Europe and abroad.  This documentary gives a full picture of the Board game industry and the current renaissance occurring in it.  Viewers should not pass their turn to check out this fantastic documentary.  

Gamemaster is a comprehensive, entertaining documentary about the growing board game industry, with diverse viewpoints and a wonderful cast of characters who rolled the dice on the indie board game scene. 

Watch it.
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