Stephanie Beth’s 2013 feature doco, Us And The Games Industry, heads to UK and US screens early next month and gets a release on Valve’s Steam platform.
In the US, the film will have a run at The Arena in Los Angeles in August, not far from where it had its world premiere at Dances With Films in June last year.
In the UK, Us And The Games Industry has recently been invited to screen at the UK’s biggest UK competition event for indie games, Dare to be Digital. The event runs in Dundee, where Ninja Kiwi has its European studio (fka Digital Goldfish).
Closer to home, the film had a special pre-conference screening at last year’s NZ Game Developers Conference before appearing in the NZIFF. It’s also been screened recently in Toronto as part of TIFF’s year-round Higher Learning programme.
Shot over three years in the USA and in Copenhagen, Us and the Game Industry explores computer game development, focusing around US game developer thatgamecompany as the team built, completed and released Journey, a networked PS3 game.
Last year, Journey took five wins from eight nominations at the Video Game BAFTAS. It won for Artistic Achievement, Audio Achievement, Game Design, Online – Multiplayer, Original Music. The game also received a Grammy nomination in the Best Score Soundtrack For Visual Media category – the first game score to be nominated for the award.
While the PS3 has since been replaced by the PS4 Beth’s film explores less temporary ideas around the themes of creativity and its application, and the influence of existing story-telling forms and structures (including those drawn from film), in game development.
Us and the Game Industry trailer
Beth became involved with the world of game development through her son, who created the artwork for a game. She discovered an ecosystem which piqued her interest: “somewhere where systems and structures were in place where art and industry was discussed and shared”, as she told Flicks ahead of the film’s NZIFF outing last year.
Us and the Game Industry was shot in various US cities with members of the team working on or around the development and release of Journey. While there are plenty of blockbuster game titles and franchises built for consoles, Beth’s interest was in exploring a development process where the creators were driven by their own explorations of creativity more than by the deadlines of a publisher’s marketing department.
For the LA screenings, Beth has confirmed game designers Tracy Fullerton and Margaret Robertson for the Q&A alongside Journey developers Jenova Chen and Jason Rohrer. Fullerton is Director of the University of Southern California’s Game Innovation Lab, and presented the Breaking the Mold: Experiments in Evolving Game Narrative session at this year’s GDC.
Robertson has worked with brands, broadcasters and film studios to develop their game strategies, and was part of the team that built the Channel 4‘s BAFTA and Emmy-award winning educational game slate.
Us and the Game Industry will be released on Steam on 26 July (US date). Other NZ content on Steam includes Grinding Gear Games’ Path of Exile and former Weta staff Michael Asquith & Ben Stenbeck’s Zombie Movie.