In a world of experts in a subject directly related to technology, it’s a relief to see that no one writes any equations on windows.
How much is enough? How much fame or notoriety do you want? What would satisfy you?
Some people wouldn’t know, but Bryan Sanders (Brian Bernys) does. He spends all day trying to be the very best, and stoically bends and breaks the rules and people around him in order to achieve his goal.
And, that goal, like anything else in life, has a price.
In a twist of fate, Bryan Sanders, whose surname means “helper of mankind”, does the exact opposite and demands mankind help him instead. Specifically, Bryan wants his closest friend Scott (Jacob Alberella) to help him break back into the world of competitive gaming, or eSports.
And, because Bryan is charismatic and captivating, Scott agrees. There are others along the way, but the main story is in what Bryan’s demands do to the friendship he has with Scott.
Scott always seems so earnest in his efforts to help others around him. He helps his friends. He helps people at work. He’s the kind of guy that puts others first. Bryan recognizes Scott’s good nature and takes advantage of it, while also protecting Scott from others who would do the same. Bryan cares about his friend, but has tunnel-vision. So, when a love-interest threatens to distract Scott, Bryan is going to do what he thinks is right for his personal goal. The results are of course disastrous and for you to find out.
Bryan’s blind ambition, blind to the cost of what would make someone great, is almost childlike in the sense that he doesn’t understand why others around him aren’t or won’t do the same.
Bryan paces his basement deliberately and relentlessly while giving an inspirational speech to nameless gamers who will help him achieve his dream and then ultimately themselves be forgotten (by both Bryan and the audience).
Do they know this going into it? Do they think they might have the same shot at what Bryan is aiming for? The film doesn’t ask these questions, because it is as focused on Bryan and his goal as he is.
In his personal life, Brian has everything he could possibly want -a significant other, a best friend, a good job, a nice house- but they don’t register on Bryan’s personal scoreboard. So when he loses some of these things, we wonder if he will miss them, or if he will convince himself that it was all worth it in the end.
Game Changers is smart, because it doesn’t make us hate Bryan. He is not a villain. As selfish as the character might be at times, we see him working toward his goal the entire film. There’s no denying earned it. There is even a moment in the film where it is illustrated that drive and ambition are just as important as talent.
Bryan recruits Cameron, a young gamer who stands out because of his skill. However, Cameron is lazy in tortoise and the hare kind of way. Cameron is the hare in this case, and almost drags the entire team down with him. The film uses this storyline to demonstrate that one cannot rely on talent alone. One must be focused, and that is Bryan’s biggest virtue and fault.
Can we get what we want from life without losing some things, relationships, or people along the way? Director Rob Imbs doesn’t know, but he does want to show us a story about someone who asked.
Nevertheless, Game Changers doesn’t forget to have fun. After all, the movie is set to a backdrop of video games, which is an entertainment industry. There’s plenty to get nostalgic over, and a number of laughs to be had.
It even had me dig in the back of my closet to break out some of the games I had since forgotten. The strength of Game Changers is in the way it engages in a story that could happen to anyone, and contours the world of competitive gaming on top of that story. It is the art film about competitive gaming no body new they wanted, and in that respect makes it unique.