New Doc To Explore Chicago Origins Of 'Mortal Kombat' And Other Gaming Classics

By Justin Freeman in Arts & Entertainment on Jul 29, 2015 3:10PM


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Chicago has an impressive history of video games that isn’t too well known, and a documentary looking for funding on Kickstarter is now seeking to remedy this.

You may recognize the name Midway Games. They started out making pinball machines, but they’re probably best known for the games they developed during their heyday in the '90s, before going out of business in 2009. They’re the ones behind Mortal Kombat, NBA Jam, Cruis’n USA, Tapper and many other games that we remember skipping 9th period math class to play at the seedy local arcade—where also we first discovered the existence of drugs and house music.

The documentary has a working title of Insert Coin: Inside Midway’s '90s Revolution and is seeking $75,000. As of this writing, the film has raised almost $40,000, and there are 20 days left on its Kickstarter campaign.

The documentary is being produced by Josh Tsui, who was at Midway during their glory days working as an developer for games such as WWF Wrestlemania: The Arcade Game, NHL 2-on-2 Open Ice Challenge and of course Mortal Kombat. Nowadays, Tsui is the President of Robomodo, which is a small collective of video game developers based in the West Loop who are currently working on Tony Hawk Pro Skater 5.

Back in 2012, Polygon did a longform interview with Tsui about what it was like working at Midway, which we assume helped inspire this documentary.

“Midway back in the day was like the Wild West - there just were no rules," Tsui says. "There were no producers; there was nothing. The teams were like, 'Here's five guys—go make a game and we'll see you in a year.' It was very successful because of that. Everyone felt very responsible for their product."

From the looks of the trailer, it appears that the documentary will focus on the development and social impact of the games as well as the company culture that made Midway infamous throughout the '90s.

Tsui plans to use the money to subsidize travel costs and hire a film crew. The documentary has an estimated release date of May 2017. Check out the trailer below.