Video Game Documentary “Critical///Path” Looks to Examine the Art of Gaming

In 1954, director François Truffaut wrote a piece called “A Certain Tendency in French Cinema.” It was there he posed the ground-breaking theory that a film director could become an auteur. Essentially, Truffaut was trying to tell people that a true director created a film with complete artistic control, much in the same way that an author creates their stories. If this doesn’t sound mind blowing, you must remember that the film industry at this point was still largely under the thumb of the studio system. It was still strictly show business, and there was little mention regarding the higher idea of the art of filmmaking. Truffant openly challenged this idea with an essay, and then spent a career backing it up with works like the film “Breathless,” a movie so dynamic in its presentation and style, that those who “got” it, didn’t hesitate to call it art.

Of course, Truffaut wasn’t the first director to create auteur works of film. Instead, he was just the one to really stand back and look at this ability that a director had over his work, and lend a name to it. Jean Renoir, for example, had been creating “ahead of their time” works of auteur filmmaking all throughout the ’30s. Furthermore, Truffaut certainly wasn’t the last auteur as men like Alfred Hitchcock, Martin Scorsese, and countless others since proved that a good director really does craft a film, and is able to transcend the idea of movies as mere industry in doing so.

I mention this because the truth is that up until this point, there are very few people who openly use the word auteur when talking about game developers. Fortunately, for anyone truly interested in the gaming industry, filmmaker David Grabias does use that word. Specifically, he says, “There are plenty of people who are known, but they aren’t necessarily known as auteurs. Within every studio there’s always one or two people who are really visionaries.”

Even more fortunate is that David is currently working on a series that looks to express and exhibit that very belief called “Critical///Path.”

Details are slowly emerging about the project, which has apparently been in the works for two years and is a culmination of over 30 hours worth of interviews with some of the leading minds in the gaming industry. Produced by Artifact Studios, “Critical///Path” will feature interviews with gaming developers that include Cliff Bleszinski, John Carmack, Hideo Kojima, Sid Meir, Will Wright and more. Each installment will showcase individual developers covering topics that range from industry specific subjects such as “First-Person vs Third-Person” to broader ideas like “Bonding Through Adversity.” Style-wise, the series is being compared by some to “Inside the Actor’s Studio.”

I love this concept, and the roll call of talent on hand so far is pretty incredible. What I especially love is that, unlike other video game documentaries and similar works, this isn’t a defense of the industry as much as it’s a celebration and exploration of it. When people like the developers mentioned are approached to defend the gaming industry (which happens far too often), they are naturally going to let their passion overwhelm them and come out with closed fists and defensive minds. An open forum like this instead allows them to take that same passion and come out with open arms, allowing anyone with a true interest into the artistic side of gaming, an unprecedented chance to gain an honest look at the processes and ideas that fuel it.

Besides, of course, providing these developers their deserved levels of exposure, that’s the other function I hope this series will ultimately serve. Because much like the film industry at the time of “A Certain Tendency in French Cinema,” the seeds for a true artistic evolution in gaming are well sewn. Really all we need is for everyone in the industry, from developers to fans, to enter the mindset that such a revolution is possible, because it’s already happening.


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