Rise of the Video Game

TV review by
Melissa Camacho, Common Sense Media
Rise of the Video Game TV Poster Image
Docu covers games' evolution; some strong images.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.

Positive Messages

Some minimal discussion of how video games have impacted children (including discussion of adverse affects).

Violence

Several of the featured games include shooting, explosions, murder, and/or some kind of battle. The images are shown for illustrative purposes.

Sex

Some video game images show women in tight/suggestive clothing.

Language

"Damn" is audible. Words like "ass" and "s--t" are bleeped.

Consumerism

Features now-defunct game brands like Atari and Magnavox as well as contemporary names like PlayStation; lots of games are mentioned by name, starting with Pong and Pac-Man and moving all the way up to World of Warcraft.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Alcohol very occasionally visible.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this documentary series about the history and evolution of video games includes clips from many of the games it discusses, some of which feature violent and disturbing images. The images are shown to illustrate the industry's major technology and content advancements, but they may be inappropriate or even frightening for younger viewers (though plenty of kids may not even be interested in the series). There's also a bit of strong language, though anything stronger than "damn" and "hell" is bleeped.

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What's the story?

RISE OF THE VIDEO GAME is a five-part documentary series that chronicles the history and evolution of video games and their impact around -- and on -- the world. From Pong to PlayStation, each episode shows how computer technology has transformed over the years to create what is now a major force in entertainment media. The series also demonstrates how major historical events like the Cold War and the Space Race have impacted the game industry, and some of the business' movers and shakers are introduced.

Is it any good?

The series is informative, looking at the overall social influences that have inspired major advances in game technology and content. It also provides some interesting examples of how the creative process works and discusses the medium as an avenue for creative expression. Different points of view are presented about the tensions between corporate culture and the creative teams behind the games.

But the show's focus is really on the evolutionary and revolutionary role that video games continue to play in our lives -- even for those who don't play them. That, plus a bit of iffy language and some fairly graphic footage from the games being discussed, makes Rise of the Video Game a bit strong for younger kids (though chances are they won't be that excited about watching a documentary anyway). But avid teen and adult gamers may find it compelling viewing.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the role that video games have played in popular culture throughout the last 50 years. Can parents (or even grandparents) remember when they played their first video game? Can you? How have games changed over the years? Is it for the better? Why or why not? Families can also talk about violent media content. Why is violent behavior included in TV shows and video games? Is this content harmful? What other potential effects can playing video games have? Are there benefits to playing them?

TV details

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