So I took home Gamer on DVD and it got me thinking about something. I’ve always loved when movie directors try to portray games on the silver screen – either it’s a bunch of brain-dead kids waving disconnected Dreamcast controllers around while Atari 2600 sound effects play, or it’s some hilarious hyper-advanced technology that only exists in Kotaku’s wet dreams. But every once in a while, they get it right. What follows are some of my favorite video game moments in movie history.
The Wrestler – The scene where Randy “The Ram” Robinson gets one of the neighborhood kids in to play Wrestle Jam ’88 is amazing on a number of levels. While they could have taken a shortcut, the producers actually hired a motion graphics team to produce a completely playable game that pits The Ram against his arch-foe The Ayatollah. It even has a custom chiptune title theme!
Nightmares – This post-Creepshow horror anthology is totally 80s, and is one of the only movies to deal with the rabid anti-gaming hysteria of the decade. Emilio Estevez plays J.J. Cooney, a decent teenage kid obsessed with a game called Bishop Of Battle, a pretty awesome wire-frame Berzerk clone with a seriously complicated control scheme. Of course, since this is an 80s horror movie, the game comes to life at the end and sucks J.J’s last quarter, as it were.
Reign Over Me – You know, the serious Adam Sandler movie about 9-11. Yeah. As much of a weird idea as this film is, it does do one thing right: when Adam Sandler’s character Charlie is seen losing himself in video games, he plays Fumito Ueda’s masterpiece Shadow Of The Colossus, a morally complex game that has the player bringing down massive part-stone, part-flesh beasts. A rare occurrence of a game’s symbolism being used to mirror the film’s.
The 40 Year Old Virgin – Trash talk is such an essential part of gaming, and no movie has ever done it as well as this one. Seth Rogen and Paul Rudd get their Mortal Kombat 4 on and as they’re doling out the fatalities, they also let loose a stream of hilarious verbal invective that cracks me up every time I watch it.
Night Of The Comet – This cult classic ostensibly tells the tale of a mysterious comet that turns most of the Earth’s population into zombies, but I love it for lead valley girl Reggie’s obsession with the 1981 Atari classic Tempest. Even with the dead walking the world, Reggie takes the time to dominate the high score table.
The Last Starfighter – Man, I loved this movie growing up. Alex Rogan is so good at imaginary arcade game Starfighter that he’s whisked off to fight an intergalactic war against the Ko-Dan Empire. And isn’t that everybody’s fantasy, really – that someday we’ll be called upon to use all of our hard-earned Halo skills and frag for real? And not in Iraq? Oh, a man can dream.