Making the Grades
Release Date: Airs on NBC, Friday, December 2 at 8/7central.
Choice may seem like a personal thing but the truth is there are very few of our decisions that don’t affect other people. Unfortunately Zach Taylor (Titus Makin Jr.) finds himself right in the middle of some very difficult choices with big consequences for those around him.
Having earned a prestigious scholarship to pursue a degree in video game design at the Digital Institute of Game Design, Zach arrives at school and is matched with three other students for the “freshman project”, an exercise designed to weed out at least half of the class before Christmas. Zach’s teammates include two bickering buddies, Phillip Reese (Nathan Kress) and Donald Wallace (Adam Cagley). The guys also convince Sara Ramirez (Dana De La Garza) to join them as the group’s project leader. Their assignment is to produce a playable video game for an end of the semester competition.
Staying focused on the work at hand takes a toll on the teens who are constantly slogging away at creating new characters, developing story lines and refining the dynamics of the game. But Zach faces another distraction. Finances aren’t going well for his widowed father and the freshman worries he won’t have a home to go back to if things don’t improve for his dad’s business. An opportunity to send home some cash arises when the young student is approached by one of the college administrators, Marcus Bentton (Tom Nowicki). Despite the school’s policy against students taking on consulting work during their first semester, Marcus offers Zach a job testing video games for an unnamed developer. However to maintain his campus status, Zach has to keep his job secret from his group members and the other academic advisors.
Before long, Zach’s teammates notice a distinct decline in his ability to keep up his end of the assignments. His lack of effort worries them since a failure for the team means they all go home at the end of the project. Finally in an effort to protect themselves from flunking out, Sara kicks Zach out of the group. And Professor Abbie Lambert (Lea Thompson) puts him on academic probation when his extracurricular work activities come to light. Facing the possibility of expulsion, Zach takes a trip home to get some advice from his father.
Ironically Zach’s team is creating a game where the avatars must make choices. By involving the entire student body in the dilemmas through social networking, Zach, Sara, Phillip and Donald hope to show the consequences just one person’s decision can have on others. Unfortunately Zach doesn’t initially see the connection between his decision and the impact it has on his classmates, his father and his scholastic future.
Pressured to achieve academic, financial, social or prestigious success, many of these characters in this movie buckle under the stress. Yet with few content concerns other than some manipulative and underhanded actions by a person in authority,Game of Your Life reinforces the idea that the choices we make in society are more closely connected than we may care to admit.
Discussion Ideas After The Movie
Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about Game of Your Life.
Although Zach is making a game about choices he doesn’t see the connection in his own life. Why is it sometimes easier to see faults in others than in ourselves? Is he justified in his reasons for taking on the extra work at school? What impact does his commitment to Marcus have on his team?
What does he learn about loyalty from his father and his father’s friends? How does his own teammates display loyalty and forgiveness? How do Donald and Phillip express their friendship?
What drives Marcus Bentton’s decisions? How does the desire to be acclaimed color people’s actions? How is this pressure evident in academic, career, financial and social arenas?
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