Have you ever wondered what it takes to be the very best at playing a video game? Well, a few talented fans of Nintendo’s massively popular Pokemon franchise are leveraging the power of Kickstarter to crowdfund “To Be The Very Best,” a feature-length documentary about the game’s most elite players.
In project lead Wolfe Glick’s own words, “To Be The Very Best” aims to capture the action and excitement of the annual Pokemon Video Game World Championships, “from the roar of the crowd, the elation of victory, and the heartbreak of defeat to what draws us back to the event each year,” to share with other Pokemon fans around the world.
We had a chance to speak with Glick about the documentary, the Pokemon community, and what make the franchise such a massive, multigenerational sensation.
E3 Insider: How did the project come about?
Wolfe Glick: The idea for the project came about after the 2014 Pokemon Video Game World Championships, when I started toying with the idea of a documentary for competitive Pokemon. Our goal in making this documentary is to challenge some of the stereotypes associated with the traditional idea of a gamer by showcasing a unique and vibrant subculture featuring passionate individuals and intense competition.
E3 Insider: What is the Pokemon Video Game Championship Series like? What makes it such a special subject for a project like this?
Wolfe Glick: The official championships are a completely unique environment, unlike any other [event] I've been to. On the one side, you have the extremely tense competition as players struggle to outmaneuver their opponents and manage luck-based elements, in addition to fatigue. And on the other hand, you have this incredible, palpable sense of community where players go on to cheer for their friends after they are knocked out, and enjoy the company of peers who they only see for a few days out of each year.
E3 Insider: Why do you think Pokemon has such everlasting appeal? The franchise is almost 20 years old, and at this point it's captivated several generations of children and adults alike.
Wolfe Glick: I think Pokemon has something special about it that's created such a passionate and enthusiastic fanbase. I'm not sure if it's the concept or the game itself, but I love that Pokemon always surprises me in showing me something else I can enjoy -- the most recent of which has been the lasting friendships I've formed because of the competitions.
E3 Insider: In your experience, what differentiates the Pokemon competitive scene from other such scenes for games like Street Fighter and League of Legends?
Wolfe Glick: Pokemon has a few distinct differences from other major e-sports. The first major one in my mind is that the prize pools are very different: While some professional gamers are able to support themselves from their gaming, Pokemon players treat the game as a hobby, because they have to. Also, Pokemon requires all mental skill and no physical skill or muscle memory, so players are able to practice less because they can do so while still remaining competitive.
To learn more about “To Be The Very Best” or show your support, head to the documentary’s official Kickstarter project page.