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Original article by Jenni-Maarit Koponen. Translation by Heikki Kareranta
The Name of the Game documentary film follows Housemarque’s game development process which also includes partying and financial difficulties
A few years ago, the Finnish game industry pioneer, Housemarque, teamed up with the legendary old-school game designer, Eugene Jarvis, to create Nex Machina. The initial idea was to capture some making-of footage as marketing material. However, the game development process started to look so eventful that the end result was the 97- minute long documentary film ‘The Name of the Game’ which covers the ups and downs of the company.
According to director Paul J. Vogel, “The movie is about people who follow their dreams and give everything they’ve got to the project. The story has that child-like passion. These are people who, in a way, refuse to grow up. This is something many can relate to.”
Vogel and co-director Jarno Elonen focused on following the game director, the head of marketing and the community manager. The cameras captured not only creativity and success but also financial troubles, mistakes, and layoffs.
“We were lucky that we were able to capture the good times and the bad times. We were allowed to show everything that was happening.”, according to Vogel.
Comedy and rock n’ roll
In addition to Nex Machina, Housemarque’s latest video games are, Matterfall, Alienation, and Reosgun. During the development of Nex Machina, the company was able to carry out their creative passion but the funding and marketing side of things create problems. The Name of the Game is a comedic film that is easy to follow even without any background knowledge about the industry. The film’s elements and dramatic formula bears a resemblance to band documentaries.
“The film has that old-school rock n’ roll flavor. There are situations where people celebrate, but beneath the surface, there’s this constant feeling of uncertainty. Usually, the media doesn’t really show the risks and uncertainty that revolves around the video game industry. People’s jobs are in jeopardy if a project fails financially.”, Vogel says.
Elonen adds that “Usually, the media only shows the success of Finnish games. That type of coverage can easily create a distorted image of the industry.”
Director studies in a prestigious school in the US
Elonen works in the video game industry while Vogel is a passionate gamer. Vogel studies at one of the most prestigious film schools in the world in Los Angeles. Famous directors, such as George Lucas and Ron Howard have also studied in USC SCA.
“The school has been a great experience. I feel like I’m going to Disneyland every day. I’ve gotten a lot of feedback on this particular project from friends at school but from professors as well. For example, our documentary professor has won three Oscars.”, Vogel says.
The spoken language is English, and the primary focus is to release the film in the United States.
“We are discussing wide-scale distribution with American partners, the main focus is in streaming services. “, Vogel concludes.