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Beyond the Game (2008)

6.4
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Ratings: 6.4/10 from 218 users  
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Documentary about Worldchampionship 2007 WarcraftIII players, leading roles for Dutch player "Grubby" and Chinese player "Sky".

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Documentary about Worldchampionship 2007 WarcraftIII players, leading roles for Dutch player "Grubby" and Chinese player "Sky".

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19 March 2009 (Netherlands)  »

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Meandering but thought provoking
17 February 2011 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

I suppose the most obvious comparison to draw here would be to 'King of Kong', and in doing so 'Beyond the Game' holds up well; it's nowhere near as highly edited and dramatized, the people are not turned into caricatures, and overall it feels less obviously manipulative. Both Sky and Grubby have redeeming qualities (the documentary doesn't take sides), and a lot of the scenes feel far more genuine. That's not to say 'Beyond the Game' isn't guilty of cheese, as evidenced especially by its far too common lingering close ups, and random footage of Arthas, the hero of Warcraft 3, running around aimlessly in the snow while melancholy music plays in the background. I'm not sure what those sections are supposed to convey.

Its biggest weakness is that 'Beyond the Game' oftentimes feels unsure of itself. The title suggests that the game itself is not the object of the documentary, but rather Sky and Grubby themselves, in which case I feel like I still don't know enough, especially about Grubby. Sky's life, as revealed through interviews with his parents and shots of their hometown, and also interviews with his city friends, manages to cast light on some of the bigger aspects of Chinese culture, and he almost becomes emblematic of disaffected youth. On the other hand, Grubby's mum likes making him sandwiches, and his Asian girlfriend is not only a stunning former model, but a gamer; the tenderest scenes between the two come from discussing Warcraft tactics.

I'd recommend 'Beyond the Game' to video gamers and non-video gamers alike; it provides a rare, if shallow, insight into e-sports industry, but more than that it is a fascinating, if underdeveloped, exploration of the kind of obsessives who play a game as a profession.


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