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Are you feeling burned out on TV? Maybe you’ve watched Breaking Bad all the way through again or you’re on yet another rewatch of Game of Thrones. No matter what, remember that there is more to TV than just fiction.
Documentaties are great, and if you think they’re all about history or nature you couldn’t be more wrong. These nine documentaries will help you learn a little something while keeping in touch with your geeky side at the same time.
1. Indie Game: The Movie
The critically acclaimed Indie Game: The Movie follows Tommy Refenes and Edward McMullen as they work on their then unreleased Super Meat Boy as well as Phil Fish, who is hard at work on Fez. The movie also visits Jonathan Blow, who at the time had just had massive success with his game Braid.
The movie was shot before both Super Meat Boy and Fez were released and were successful, while Blow would have a second major success with The Witness. This movie is worth seeing for a glimpse at the developers before their games were successful, but would be just as watchable even if they weren’t.
2. Haunters: The Art of the Scare
Horror simulations are sort of haunted houses, only with the knob dialed up to 11 and then ripped of. Haunters: The Art of the Scare takes you into that world, talking with the people behind these simulations and exploring why people are drawn to them.
You won’t want to watch this one around kids or the faint of heart. As I write this, Halloween is just around the corner, but this is worth a watch any time of the year.
3. The Toys That Made Us
The Toys That Made Us is the only documentary we’re looking at here that is a series, not a movie. Across the series’ two seasons, episodes touch on Star Wars toys, Barbie, G.I. Joe, LEGO, Hello Kitty, and other franchises.
If you feel like your childhood was shaped in part by the toys you had around, this one isn’t to be missed.
4. American Scary
Focusing on old-school horror hosts, American Scary dives deep into hosts like Zacherley, Vampira, Ghoulardi, and dozens of others. It even stops in with semi-related shows like Mystery Science Theater 3000 to see how they were influenced by the late night horror movie companions of an early time.
If the only horror movie host you’re aware of is Elvira, this is a great way to step back to a time when you were stuck watching what was on TV. At least you had these hosts to keep you company.
5. Playing Hard
Another documentary about what goes into creating the video games we love, Playing Hard focuses on just one game, Ubisoft’s For Honor. By focusing on just one project, it’s able to spend more time getting to know the creators.
That said, this is a big game. The creators behind the documentary obviously couldn’t talk to everyone involved in making it. Still, it’s worth a watch, especially for fans of the game.
6. Back in Time
Whether the Back to the Future franchise is one of your favorites or just something you watch occasionally, it’s probably affected your life somehow. You’re not alone in that either, which is exactly what this documentary is about.
Back in Time is ostensibly about the movies, but it’s more about the impact that the franchise has had on its fans. This movie is packed with interview footage with the cast and crew behind the movies that even casual fans will love.
7. Enter the Anime
If you’ve seen any of the anime-related articles on the site, like the one that covers the eternal battle between fans of subbed and dubbed anime, you may wonder what the deal is. If you’re looking for an overall introduction to anime, Enter the Anime will do the trick.
This documentary interviews notable figures behind some of the genre’s hits and is well worth watching even if you’re not a fan of anime. Even better, it’s less than an hour long so you don’t need to set a ton of time aside.
8. Star Wars: Empire of Dreams
Star Wars: Empire of Dreams is about the making of the three original Star Wars movies. From that sentence alone, you probably already know if you’re interested in it or not. If you live and breathe Star Wars, you’ll absolutely want to see this, even if you’ve already seen all the making-of featurettes.
Behind the scenes footage, interviews with cast and crew, and plenty of never-before-seen content make this worth a watch for any fan of the first three movies.
9. Atari: Game Over
Maybe you’ve heard the story about E.T. Not the movie, the game, which was famously so bad that thousands of copies were buried in the desert in New Mexico. The filmmakers behind Atari: Game Over set out to see if these cartridges were in fact there, and made a movie about their quest.
This quickly became a geek gathering, with fans swarming the landfill on the day of the dig. As a result, the movie is as much a celebration of geek culture as it is a documentary about a legendarily bad game.