Hot Docs 2018: ‘Playing Hard’

Playing Hard (DIR. Jean-Simon Chartier)

Jean-Simon Chartier’s behind-the-scenes glimpse into the world of video game development is engrossing, informative, and unexpectedly full of tension and drama.

Playing Hard follows the Montreal subsidiary of game publisher Ubisoft as it develops For Honor.  The game’s evolution is tracked as it’s pitched, developed, marketed, and refined ahead of its release.  At the center of the film is Jason VandenBerghe, the eccentric and endearing visionary behind For Honor’s story, who’s spent over a decade thinking about this game and trying to make it a reality.

For 4+ years, the team in Montreal struggles to collaborate, hire enough staff to meet approaching deadlines, and make the tough decisions as pressure mounts.  The stress of it all inevitably begins to take its toll on management, and so surprisingly, this film does not lack emotion.

While certainly a good fit for those already familiar with the world of gaming, a novice to the scene won’t be lost since the film does a good job of filling in the less obvious gaps.  That said, the focus of this doc is less the game itself, and more the nature of the creative process in a competitive, cutthroat industry.

Playing Hard is an engaging, well-paced film that offers valuable insight into how collaborative art meets the realities of business in modern times.

– Jessica Goddard 

Catch Playing Hard at Toronto’s Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival on:

Thursday, May 3 at 2:45 p.m. @ Scotiabank Theatre

Friday, May 4 at 8:15 p.m. @ Scotiabank Theatre


Click here for more festival details and to buy tickets.

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