The past few years have seen an unexpected phenomenon: the rise of eSports. To non-gamers, the thought of watching someone else play a video game seems absurd, but for eSports enthusiasts, it’s no different than watching football or soccer. A new documentary, All Work, All Play: The Pursuit of eSports Glory offers viewers an entertaining and accessible profile of both the quickly-expanding realm of eSports, and the star players within it.
All Work, All Play: The Pursuit of eSports Glory, a product of husband and wife team Patrick Creadon and Christine O’Malley, was shown at a preview screening last month at the Electronic Entertainment Expo in L.A. It covers season 9 of the Intel Extreme Masters tournament which involves a number of popular competitive games like Starcraft II and League of legends. Creadon’s documentary stars eSports stars like and Korean team GE Tigers, American underdog teams, Cloud Nine and Team Solomid, and Managing Director of Pro Gaming at Turtle Entertainment, Michal Blicharz; by focusing on them, it gives what’s usually seen as a niche entertainment, mass appeal.
One side of the film shows teams preparing for competition, many of them doing so while living together in sloppy bachelor pad splendor. In living rooms packed with PCs and among soda cans and pizza boxes, these young guys eat, sleep, and breathe League of Legends, practicing and strategizing for up to sixteen hours a day. The camaraderie among them is palpable, and you can’t help but pull for them when the time comes to compete.
The other part of the documentary examines the complex preparation required to put on a world-class eSports tournament through the eyes of eSports director, Michal Blicharz. Once a competitive gamer himself, Blicharz is a charismatic man with a real passion for eSports. The film follows him to his home town in Poland where as a teenager, he held video game competitions with his friends, and humanizes him further by showing him at home with his wife and child. The financial risks of putting on an eSports event are huge, and by the time the Intel Extreme Masters arrive, you’re pulling for him as well.
Aside from personalizing its subject by focusing on specific people, the film does an excellent job of breaking eSports down for the non-video gaming audience. Even if they don’t play football or baseball, most people understand enough about those sports to enjoy watching them; eSports doesn’t have that advantage. All Work, All Play addresses that issue with custom animations to explain League of Legends in a way everyone can understand, and this does a lot to make watching the competition interesting for non-players.
Overall, All Work, All Play does a great job of presenting worthwhile information to video game insiders, while providing easy entry into eSports for non-video gaming audiences. The film will be playing at 1,900 theaters across the U.S. this summer, and is well worth the time and money to see.
All Work, All Play: The Pursuit of eSports Glory opens July 21. To find theaters near you, visit the film’s official website.