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access_time June 9, 2013 at 11:21 PM in Culture by Tony

Video Games Pwn: 10 TV and Movie References

It’s a big world out there, and for the more casual readers out there…what brought you here anyways? No really, you’re probably wondering what all the hubbub is concerning us gamers. Hmm. Yeah, hubbub. Anyways, this significance built up around video games doesn’t make us crazy! You probably didn’t notice, but aside from all the adaptations back and forth between video games and TV and movies, video games have been frankly featured and displayed on that media. Here’s some of the most clever, or funny, references and features of video games in entertainment!


1.)    Galaga in Avengers


Well, this goes without saying. Pretty much everyone agrees RDJ’s line was some form of genius, especially considering the slick irony of an impending alien invasion being the climax of the superhero melting pot. We’ll see something like this again lower along the list. Comical, brief, and otherwise insignificant, it’s a neat reference that everyone knows.


2.)    Fight Night Round 2 in Entourage


How many of you watched this show? It’s a dramedy about four friends who live the fast-life in Hollywood’s film industry thanks to the looks of one of them. It ran for eight seasons, and although it takes a couple episodes to pick up in the first season, it develops into a full-blown comedic gem. The fighting game mentioned here was the feature of a gigantic competition expo, which one of the main characters is going to enter to win loads of cash. He’s built up as really good at the game throughout the episode, but loses to a badmouthing ten-year-old all in a matter of about five seconds.


3.)    Frogger in Seinfeld


I haven’t seen this show since I was 13, which is coincidental, because that’s what channel it was on when I watched it. Anyways, this particular episode featured the short bald guy with glasses. What was his name? Eh. Who cares. And that’s the point! The character believes in this particular episode that his only memory of him will be the high score on an Arcade Frogger system. Which, unfortunately, is in a business all set to go under. The episode culminates in the character enacting a real-life Frogger to save the system. He’s about to eat it when Seinfeld saves him, but the system dies. The episode is one of Seinfeld’s few worth mentioning again, anywhere. That was some great comedy.


4.)    Time Splitters 2 in Shaun of the Dead


Do you like Shaun of the Dead? If not, who are you and what are you doing here reading my article. Go watch it. A gigantic and utterly successful straight-up spoof of zombie movies, this horror classic uses this particular video game in a joke—as they usually are, when featuring in movies. Of course, in places like Lawnmower Man and City Hunter, they’re either laughable or just plain embarrassing to look at.

Anyways, in the film, it’s used twice. Once, to emphasize how busy Shaun is (“player two has left the game”), and secondly to build up tension with music from the game. It’s a hilarious movie, and I don’t think Simon Pegg will ever match the standards he set for himself again.


5.)    Wipeout in Hackers


Angelina Jolie playing the prototype of Wipeout? Pretty weird. But the scene also ends with a cheesy if not decent punch-line, “I guess I’m on top”, when he beats Jolie’s record. I’ll be the first to admit that the movie wasn’t particularly funny or clever, its techno-babble is wholly ridiculous even to casual viewers, and the plot is a terrible attempt at a slice of cyberpunk. Thus Jolie’s makeup. But I do believe that Wipeout was a fun game back then, and worth at least a mention here, if not an overly acclaiming one.


6.)    Chess in 2001: A Space Odyssey/The Thing


Chess is its own language. Like mathematics, or music, it has its own set of rules through which one can communicate. The former deals with a killer AI and the latter with an 80s comp that has pitifully ancient pixels. In 2001 the chess game is used to foreshadow HAL’s (the AI’s) darker intentions. It deliberately tests Dave’s intelligence, and essentially lies to him, concerning a set of moves that could postpone checkmate. This kind of video game use is beyond clever, and not for the naked eye.

The latter is once again used as a joke. Anyone can get frustrated with a computer chess game, depending on the varying levels of difficulty opposing, and in The Thing Kurt Russel realizes since he can’t flip the digital board over in anger, it’d be much easier to just toss a few ice cubes into the computer.


7.)    Xbox in The Island


Ah-hah! You didn’t see this one coming, did you? I guess that’s because the characters aren’t actually using a real video game. But they are indeed using Xbox, which I’m sure paid through the nose and the roof and all that so they could be the only video game system in the future. Oh, movie product placement. It’s cheap and truthful all at once.

Here we have the Xbox imply that the two protagonists are kept fit, and have the combat training necessary to complete the journey and survive in the second half of the film. Which makes a lot more sense than two clones who have never seen real day surviving for no good reason than they’re supposed to, because, well, they’re main characters.


8.)    Missile Command/After Burner in Terminator 2


Again, here we have what I was talking about underneath Avengers. Whereas Galaga’s aliens theme was used to reflect the plot of that movie, here we have Missile Command humorously match the future of humanity according to T2’s plot: nuclear disaster. It’s clever, funny, and a part of a fantastic action sequence at the mall. By the way, when I was a kid, I used to go to that mall. How epic it was to see it in one of the greatest Action and Science-Fiction blockbusters of all time!


9.)    “Crack Shot” in Back to the Future II


Unrelated entirely to the plot of the second installment, it makes all the difference in the third one. The Back to the Future trilogy is one of a very few film trilogies in which every single film is great. Sure, part 2 could have used some polishing on those first twenty minutes, but it quickly becomes as much a classic as the rest after that. Anyhow, the fictitious “Crack Shot” video game sets up the protagonist Marty as a great draw with good aim—something he’ll need later on in the Old West, the background for part III.


10.)      World of Warcraft in Zombieland


This was just plain funny. Jesse Eisenberg is great at playing characters with no backbone, and in establishing his loner behavior we see him drinking mountain dew with no hands with an open pizza box nearby as he plays WoW, one of the most popular pc games out there. If you couldn’t tell from the title, it’s a movie about zombies, and I think it’s neat that our hero happens to be a WoW addict who survives the zombie apocalypse.


  • Tony June 17, 2013 at 10:23 AM

    Oh, and did I mention “The Perfect Score”? One of the characters has this great piece of dialogue about how much he loves video games. Turns out he doesn’t want to Make video games, he actually wants to Be Blanka from SF.

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