HIGH SCORE Is Entertaining, but Not Suitable for Young Viewers

Screenshot via HIGH SCORE /Netflix (Official Trailer) on YouTube

HIGH SCORE Is Entertaining, but Not Suitable for Young Viewers

By Ashley Ausburn, contributing writer

HIGH SCORES is a six-part documentary series about the history of the video game industry and how it got started. And although the series is informative and entertaining, certain episodes contain content that is not suitable for younger viewers.

The series explores the evolution of video games from Space Invaders to Mortal Combat and all the areas of the business that are involved. Game developers, art directors, game play councilors, Esports players, game championship winners, and CEOs of Nintendo, Atari, and SEGA are among those interviewed in HIGH SCORE, and each person shares their experience and how it affected the evolution of video games. Each episode focuses on different topics, starting with the beginning of arcade games and the first game console for home use, and ending with the evolution of modern video games and introduction of Esports games.

HIGH SCORE has a light moral worldview, exploring the video game industry through a positive and informational lens. The series shows the benefits of hard work, believing in yourself, and working together. The overall tone is optimistic and leaves viewers with a hopeful feeling for all the possibilities yet to come.

There’s no sexual content or nudity in HIGH SCORE. The show contains two references to drug use but doesn’t show any substance abuse or explicit content. One of these instances is when the narrator talks about “rumors of pot smoking in the halls” and the second instance is when a game designer said that he went to the “mushroom kingdom,” and a computer screen with mushrooms and psychedelic colors is shown before the designer clarifies he meant the video game world of Mario. The language used is clean except for two instances where the words “butt” and “hell” are used.

There’s mild violence in HIGH SCORE. The first four episodes refrain from any graphic violence, except for the basic shooting and punching that comes with old arcade game play, but the fifth episode centers on the introduction of graphic and violent video games into the industry. The episode starts with a disclaimer of violent video games, and centers on how these changed the industry, showing clips of violence ranging from martial arts games that show blood and fighting to first person shooter games and scenes from Night Trap, where the enemies use a drill to drain their victims of blood. None of the violence shown is exceedingly bloody or graphic, but could be disturbing to viewers who are averse to violence.

HIGH SCORE does contain mentions of homosexuality. A transgender woman shares her experience winning the first-ever video game tournament. In episode four, HIGH SCORE shares the story of a gay video game designer who moved to San Francisco in the 1980s during the AIDS epidemic and created the first game that features LGBTQIA+ character. The game, called Gay Blade, casts a vocal anti-LGBTQIA+ preacher as the final boss battle, is discussed in length in this episode. Additionally, episode five includes a Harvard grad sharing his experience as a gay black man in the video game industry.

The soundtrack for HIGH SCORE does a fantastic job of evoking emotion and complimenting the cinematography and visual effects. Since this series focuses on video games, the visual effects and graphics added feel right at home and draw viewers into the virtual world of video games. Transition sequences and professional introductions before interviews are comical and compelling, and all the episodes have a continuous, cohesive feel. Each episode is well-written, exploring their individual topics in-depth, resulting in well-rounded episodes that don’t leave the viewers with any questions or loose ends. One of the key factors that makes HIGH SCORE interesting to watch is that it draws information and experiences from people that viewers would not automatically think of when they hear “video games,” going beyond company CEOs and game designers to feature Esports team leaders, video game counselors, and sound effect creators.

HIGH SCORE is well-written and informative, giving viewers an entertaining look into how one of the most popular industries came to be. While this series might not be suitable for younger viewers, it does a great job entertaining an older audience.

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