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Beyond the Game (2008)

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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Insight into electronic sports
9 November 2011 | by See all my reviews

The film follows Warcraft III players Grubby-4K from Holland and SKY from China as they prepare for and play in the 2007 WGC championship. A tiny bit is about retired player Madfrog. The documentary, however, does not linger on the personal lives of the players so much and almost not at all on the game of Warcraft; instead it tries to convey the feel of the lives of the people involved. I think that is a refreshing, albeit impractical, perspective in a movie: you get to feel inside their world, without having to actually know any of it. In that sense, this is a movie made for non gamer audiences.

Three main highlights of the documentary felt worth discussing. The first was the comparison between the two players. Li Xiaofeng (SKY) is a country boy, with peasant parents beating him with sticks for playing instead of trying to be a doctor and then laughingly admit it on tape. That glimpse into rural China is the second thing that caught my eye. SKY admits in the very beginning that he doesn't think he is very smart, but he works a lot on practicing 12 hours a day. Grubby is a Dutch player who values creativity and his parents are irrelevant to his career choice. Much more important is his Singaporean model and fellow gamer girlfriend. So it's like a battle between genius and persistence.

The third point is the actual championship, where two young guys that live for the game they play are isolated in booths playing on the computer, while an entire building filled with light and reporters and cameras and people and commentators and so on and so on is built around them, like a giant leech. The ending, displaying the results of the next year's WGC and the fact that Madfrog is working as a guard in a prison, drives this point even further. These are sportsmen, just like any others, their blood sucked by the industry, then discarded when they are not fit enough to be superstars.

Bottom line: nice insight in the lives of professional computer game players, a recommendation for gamers, non gamers and parents alike. Not perfect, but a good documentary regardless.

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