Production Company: Cinetic Media
Director: Patrick Creadon
Running Time: 94 minutes
Release Date: Tuesday July 21, 2015
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Remember those endless nights playing Mario Kart when you would have tournaments until 2AM? Do you recall how it felt, beating your friends and knowing you were the best? What if I told you people are actually getting paid (yes,paid) for doing that very same thing with their favorite games? In All Work All Play: The Pursuit of eSports Glory (All Work All Play), we see the world of electronic sports (eSports) from professional gamers who travel around the world to play in tournaments. You also meet the people who set up these tournaments to sold out sports arenas, as well as the commentators who announce play by plays as if they were covering a traditional sports event.
All Work All Play shows gaming in a new light, showcasing a phenomenon that is the sport of the future. This film shows a broad view of eSports as Michal Blicharz, Product Manager for Intel Extreme Masters (IEM), talks about his experience in the culture of eSports—how it started and how he, and others, are trying to bring eSports to mainstream audiences. The film shows Blicharz setting up the IEM World Championship Series—for San Jose, CA and Shenzhen, China—and the struggles he has to go through to keep eSports alive. We get a glimpse into the life of multiple teams that are preparing for the League of Legends tournaments. You get a taste of the life of a pro gamer and the gaming industry as a whole.
All Work All Play is a satisfying introduction into the world of eSports. I was impressed to see a film that speaks to mass audiences about the world of pro gaming and is just as compelling to non-gamers. Usually, documentaries on this particular subject aren’t able to hold the interest of an audience member who doesn’t follow eSports; however, All Work All Play keeps the discussion intriguing. Having grown up with the 90s Nintendo™ and Sega™ games, the thing with eSports currently is that it doesn’t involve your garden-variety games people of my generation grew up with. Today’s eSports tend to have newer, complicated, real time strategy (RTS) games that take an enormous amount of research, studying dozens of YouTube videos, and hours of playtime to even get a grasp of how the games work. So you can appreciate the difficulty filmmakers had when tapping into this subject matter. Nevertheless, All Work All Play adeptly explains the game League of Legends—the primary game featured in the documentary, and currently the most watched eSports game in the world—while keeping the audience engaged during the tournaments. As you continue watching the documentary, it gets to the point where you start rooting for a team, which is pretty remarkable in the span of an hour and a half.
With All Work All Play, you’re not just getting the gaming community for face value. This film isn’t looking at these players in disbelief of their lifestyle choices. All Work All Play gives you a better understanding of the fascination surrounding eSports with Peter Creadon’s admirable production. The documentary provides a visceral look at the people in the professional gaming industry, making the film that much more enjoyable. Creadon shows us these gamers are normal people who simply want to do what they love, and after watching the film, I appreciate them more for it.
All Work All Play also focuses on the impact eSports has in our culture today. My favorite thing from the film is the analogy and parallel eSports has with athletic sports. For instance, there are students getting sports scholarships to play League of Legends at colleges; the country of Korea has multiple TV channels dedicated to eSports (like ESPN); and fans are flocking to see their favorite players at tournaments. You also see the hard work these pro gamers put in. They leave their hometowns to play for a team, practicing 12-15 hours a day, and then play with thousands of spectators watching; the massive amount of pressure to perform can be intense. It might not be an athletic sport, but it’s not much different. All Work All Play conveys this aspect very well.
If you’re not a gamer, you are still able to enjoy the film almost on the same level as a gamer would. All Work All Play isn’t the end all to be all on the subject of eSports, but audiences will have a better appreciation for the sport. It gives you a better understanding of how many people are able to watch gaming channels for hours on end, or go to national gaming events. You may or may not be influenced to start watching eSports after viewing this film, but you’ll probably be less likely to snicker at the thought of people tuning into it. Then again, you might be motivated to become a pro gamer yourself. If so, dust off your game cartridge and get your Nintendo™ on. With enough practice, you might just become good enough to make some big bucks. Although, you may have to say goodbye to your social life.
For more information on All Work All Play, visit the movie’s website at http://www.esportsincinema.com.
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All photos © 2015 Cinetic Media. All Rights Reserved.
© 2015, Nick Polizzi. All rights reserved.
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