Netflix's High Score Reveals the ‘Golden Age’ of Video Games

Updated: 23 Aug 2020 12:59 PM PDT

A Six Episode Docuseries Every Gamer Can Appreciate

Netflix-High-Score Netflix's High Score | Credit: Netflix

Netflix's High Score is an informative and friendly documentary that covers the world of video gaming from its arcade roots through the fight between Nintendo and SEGA in the 1990s. A fantastic show that spends much of its time looking back at how things used to be, it also helps to shed light on how the present world of gaming owes quite a bit to its roots. The series aims to be a casual-friendly look at a history that isn't often examined outside of its fandom.


High Score has an audience in mind and it's not necessarily the one that most might assume. While the show definitely pays a fair bit of lip-service to the hardcore gaming crowd, this series seems tailor-made for those who are familiar with video games as a concept but who have never dug too deep into the history of the topic. This is a show for those who can look back on the earlier days of gaming fondly enough to recall what it was like to stand in front of an arcade machine, but it's not necessarily geared towards those who remember the names of every programmer who brought those games to life.

Hitting the High Points

Netflix-High-Score Netflix's High Score | Credit: Netflix

While there have been plenty of documentaries that have focused on various aspects of the gaming industry, High Score stands apart by taking a bird's eye view of "the golden age" of gaming. Each episode of High Score takes a look at one specific corner of the gaming world beginning with the advent of video games, going through the first major bust in the industry, then looking at how video games came back as consumer products through the transition into 3D games both in the console space and on PCs.

High Score stands apart by taking a bird's eye view of "the golden age" of gaming.

The scope of High Score covers less than a quarter of a century and even within that space, it sticks to the bigger stories. The names of the companies highlighted here are all fairly well-known by anyone with a cursory knowledge of the field and the games featured are the all-time greatest hits. There's still plenty to see in each episode, of course, but there's not much time spent going into the greater scope of what was going on in the world of consumer electronics at the time.

Hidden History

Netflix-High-Score Netflix's High Score | Credit: Netflix

While the show might be about the big guns in gaming, it does a fantastic job of pulling back the curtain on some of those games. While some of these stories are certainly well-known to hardcore players, there are plenty of peeks behind the scenes that are sure to interest everyone. From getting to see some of the design journals behind the oldest arcade games to getting first-hand accounts of what it was like to participate in the earliest console wars, there's a lot of history that just hasn't been covered in depth here. This may not be a show about minutiae, but there is still plenty to discover within the bounds of the show.

Featured Players

Netflix-High-Score Netflix's High Score | Credit: Netflix

The other major thing that the show brings to the table is the people behind the video games. While there are certainly some major designers interviewed here, there are also interviews with people that don't normally spend a lot of time in front of the camera in gamer-centered media. That means that while you certainly get interviews with project directors and programmers, you also get to see the point of view of company PR people and those who had to go through the laborious process of actually selling these games. These featured players all do a great job of bringing their parts of the story to life.

Definitely a Speed Run

Netflix-High-Score Netflix's High Score | Credit: Netflix

If there's one major complaint about the series, it's that it moves just a little too quickly in some parts. There are definitely stories within the show that could use a little more room to breathe, but the format of the series makes it hard to slow down and concentrate on the narratives that surround single games in most cases. It's probably a testament to the strength of the show overall that its biggest weakness is that it leaves viewers wanting to know more about its chosen subject matter.


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