An award-winning movie from the festival circuits, Iyi Oyun/ Good Game: The Beginning is scheduled for a global release on Netflix today, Saturday, October 3, 2020. It chronicles the lesser known world of eSports, which is a fast-growing genre of sports competition using video games. Unbeknownst to many, eSports is about to make its world debut on the Olympic stage to be held in Paris, 2024. In 2020, Intel was to host a World Open challenge for eSports as a lead up to the Tokyo Olympics, which is now postponed due to the COVID pandemic. Given the maturing attention and commercial endeavors in eSports as an athletic enterprise, it is particularly amazing that the Turkish production from 2018 happens to be the world’s first feature film on this rapidly evolving sports industry.
Cenk (Mert Yazicioglu) is a recent high school graduate and an extremely skilled video gamer. He works part-time at a gaming house to support his single mother and sister. He also plays the famous video game ‘League of Legends‘ as a booster (playing for other people) to make some extra money. One day, Ada (Afra Saracoglu), manager of a newly formed pro eSport team “The Odd Five”, discovers him and offers him a spot.
Cenk decides to join the team owned by a former pro gamer Ruzgar (Kerem Bursin), and embarks on a journey in the professional gaming world. He will face tough challenges and adventures to play in the season tournament finals with his teammates Batu, Naz, JJ, Aslan and their mysterious coach Ozer (Yigit Kirazci). They will be up against archrivals under the leadership of Arda (Hakan Kurtas), who shares a murky history with Ozer and Ruzgar as former teammates in an award-winning eSports team.
‘Good Game’s storyline is constructed on a very emotional, multi layered, well-written hero’s journey. We follow Cenk’s, our protagonist, struggle in life after losing his father in five different layers: The struggle for winning the biggest video game tournament in the country, the struggle for being a real team player, the struggle for love, the struggle against his mother who doesn’t want him to play videogames and, the most difficult of them all, the struggle of being on a self-deterministic path in life.
With stunning visuals that capture the best of Turkish storytelling with expansive shots of locations, vivid colors and layered relationship dynamics, Good Game delivers as a perfect family friendly, feel good movie that explores themes of acceptance, friendship, family bonds and team spirit while overcoming life challenges. It connects the virtual and real world seamlessly, opening the doorways into the world of eSports, the mind-set of its passionate fans and a peek into the future career path of ‘athletes’. It is only the beginning of a new era in a virtual world.
ABOUT eSPORTS & PRODUCTION OF THE FILM
eSports started out of Korea and is projected to become a $1.6 billion industry by 2023 (source: statista). It is the world’s fastest growing spectator sport, representing millions of fans, fierce competitions, mind blowing transfer fees, sharp, fast and talented young gamers, universities that give big scholarships to these gamers, highly skilled, experienced and expert coaches, tough trainings that can last 18 hours, physical and emotional breakdowns, tears, successes, losses, shattered dreams, hope and adrenaline rushing real time Sports.
In 2017, its tournaments and live streams drew approximately 258 million unique visitors. 2017 League of Legends tournament filled up the huge Beijing National Stadium. With hotbed industries in China and the United States, there is no shortage of prize money available to eSports gaming participants, with single-game cash earnings up to $200,000. Some high-level competitions, like Dota 2 International, earns $10 million to the competition’s winning team (source: thestreet.com).
Given its exponential worldwide growth, it is phenomenal that the first eSports themed feature film comes from a visionary and entrepreneurial group from Istanbul, Turkey. Award winning, global film director Umut Aral, partnered with producers Alper Caglar, Doruk Acar and Hakan Bas, decided to expose this mysterious and exciting world to the masses and show the reality of eSports to a wide audience from today’s youth to older generations.
An accomplishment on its own, this is also the first movie team to secure exclusive rights from Riot Games to feature game screens and displays of LOL ‘League of Legends’ – the world’s most played eSports game. Other top eSports games include Counter Strike: Global Offensive and Fortnite, the latter being a name more familiar with the North American audience.
Adding on to its firsts, the soundtrack of the film includes the song “Sirens” by Kaan featuring Snoop Dogg which is exclusively played in IYI OYUN/GOOD GAME, and original score by award winning composers of Netflix Original Series ‘The Protector’: FFW Creative Audio Istanbul.
The movie has already garnered more than 15 wins and nominations across various film festivals around the globe, including a Best Family Film nomination at the San Diego International Kids Film Festival and a special Jury Award at WorldFest Houston. You can check out the complete list of the movie’s wins and nominations here, where the movie has received accolades in countries such as USA, India, Bhutan, Lebanon, Australia, some Balkan countries and more.
VISION TO REALITY
“The future has several names. For the weak, it is impossible; for the fainthearted, it is unknown; but for the valiant, it is ideal.” – Victor Hugo
Director Umut Aral says, “As a director, in my career I always tried to be part of pioneering and leading projects for trying new boundaries. I worked with the newly released cameras and equipment, and did the first 360-degree videos, hologram, interactive videos that opened up doors to new techniques and technology in filming industry. I always kept projects open to trying new visual effects and editing techniques. As a result, I was excited and interested in the ‘Good Game: The Beginning’ project.
I believe Good Game is a strong candidate to be a game-changer in the world cinema. It creates a new genre, and a great opportunity to start shaping the stories of the near future.”
The team’s pioneering vision is already playing out in the real world arena of eSports, as mentioned in the opening paragraph. It is also translating into the media industry as there are producers such as Eric Barmack, former head of Internationals at Netflix and currently CEO of his own company Wild Sheep, who is also investing in adapting Japanese video games. Much like the Good Game team and how they leveraged the LOL brand, Mr. Barmack also plans to leverage existing brands with deep appeal among the target demographics.
Good Game has set important precedence and the local team is proud of the watershed moment they have been a part of. With the Netflix streaming, the movie will now become globally accessible, allowing a cinematic expression of an engaged group of gamers who have more to them than just being addicts of the screen. For those of you who have access, we highly recommend you giving it a try!
Good game features popular actors Mert Yazicioglu (plays Sinan in Love 101 on Netflix), his current real life girlfriend Afra Saracoglu (from Ogretmen) whom he met on the sets of this movie, and a short appearance from Kerem Bursin (currently the star of Sen Cal Kapimi). Here is a really fun photoshoot for the poster for the movie. From the wardrobe, it seems Kerem’s Ruzgar and his Serkan in Sen Cal Kapimi share a similarly severe character!
Here’s another fun promotional event Mert and Afra participated in, sharing fun details about themselves!
‘A film for youth made by the youth.’ – Attila Dorsay
‘Good Game is a film about being a good sportsmen and a team member’ – Mehmet Açar
‘Good Game is going to overcome the parent’s prejudice of video games are bad for the health’ – Mehmet Açar
‘If you want to have fun go and watch Good Game.’ – Mert Tanöz
‘The title reflects the gaming competition. A child would enjoy the gaming aspects of the film. Vocabulary and concepts are suitable for the target audience. This is a professional made film, so everything is up to par: clarity, quality, sounds, visuals, lighting, locale, sound track, attire. Keep in mind that there is some fairly aggressive behavior shown, but not unrealistic and there are no graphic instances violence. I believe the target audience will enjoy this film, as it will keep them entertained throughout the film without any lags. They will enjoy the gaming aspect of this film a lot. I do find that the storyline this follows is a bit of typical of a “themed formula.” However, so are many major motion pictures from major producers. I am happy to recommend it for the KIDS FIRST! Film Festival for ages 12 to 18, as well as adults and give it 4 out of 5 stars.’
Reviewed by Kimberly M., KIDS FIRST! Juror and Julie S., KIDS FIRST! Juror / USA
‘This would be our first E-sport narrative film which is so timely since it’s popularity is growing so quickly. Your actors really did a great job all around. The production value was top notch with exceptional editing. The sound score was also well matched to the emotional range of the story. Great job!’
Eric Bilodeau – Artistic Director Providence Children’s Film Festival / USA
Article Copyright (c) North America TEN & mh musings/ [@entrespire, twitter]
Special thanks to Director Umut Aral for providing valuable information about the production
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