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Hot Docs 2017 Review: Living The Game

There’s a bigger picture to everything, even competitive gaming.

Living the Game captures the lives of a handful of professional gamers on their road to the 2015 Capcom Cup, a coveted championship in the world of Esports with a grand prize of $120 000. Among them are Momochi and Umehara, two competitors at the top of their game but walking two very different roads. Momochi, while highly disciplined and focused, seems to allude true greatness, often times at the hands of Umehara, or as Momochi refers to him “the Wall”. Umehara is something of an enigma. This is a constant in his playing style and personality. He’s the Golden Boy of the Esports world, and has been for over a decade, but his success has brought him a lot more than money. Now, Umehara sits in  a world where the question “what’s next” plagues him, while Momochi is blind to do to his focus.

The film doesn’t do anything new in regards to documentary work. There is little effort done to push the presentation, and while the score stood out, everything else seemed to just be there. At times Living the Game even feels a little fractured as players are brought into the fold, developed, and never heard from until the finale. However, where Living the Game excelled was finding the story. This documentary is not about gaming, it’s a story about drive, desire, and life. Here lies the true wonder of this film. The road to the cup is not a straight one, and as we watch these them push towards their goal, we slowly see how their success, or lack of, is affecting their life in the present and potentially their future.
While it doesn’t push the envelope, Living the Game presents you with a layered story that might engage you more emotionally than you expected.

Andrew Hamilton

Andrew Hamilton is a Toronto based filmmaker and creative mad man. Legend has it that he spent most of his childhood locked away in a cell beta testing Netflix.