Videogame Skills Lead To Real Life Skills
Hollywood has shown us that videogames are more than just games; they are training equipment for heroes. The leader of the human resistance against murderous machines, John Connor, can be seen developing his war skills on a Missile Command arcade cab in Terminator 2: Judgement Day (1991). That kid could also hack a cash machine with a stolen card and an Atari, so he was always destined for greatness. In The Last Starfighter (1984), aliens acknowledged the correlation between gaming ability and real life ability by using an arcade game as a recruitment device for finding the best gunners throughout the galaxy. Military aircrew applicants these days need to pass computer-based aptitude tests of hand-eye co-ordination, multi-tasking and reaction speeds, so perhaps the writers were ahead of their time. Too bad they couldn't write aliens that don't come off as irritating Star Wars rejects who happened to wander onto the lowest budget sci-fi set in Hollywood...
Skills you have learned through gaming can also get you out of some rather hairy situations. In Tenacious D In The Pick of Destiny (2006), Kyle utilises hours of playing a racing game to successfully complete a high speed chase with the cops, and, even more ridiculously, in Snakes On A Plane (2006), the plane in question is landed by a guy whose only flying experience is on Playstation 2 flight simulators. To quote the film, “All praises to the Playstation”. Marty McFly was a pot shot at Wild Gunman in Back To The Future Part 2 (1989), and these skills won him a gun on a real shooting gallery in Back To The Future Part 3 (1990). He may have been ridiculed by local children for using his hands to play an arcade machine (“That's like a baby's toy”), but that just goes to show that kids these days (or in 2015) don't know they're born. More realistically, in Shaun of The Dead (2004), Simon Pegg and Nick Frost utilise their FPS teamwork to fend off a zombie attack in the local pub. It doesn’t take them long to find out that real life marksmanship bears little resemblance to the home console experience.
Games Based on Movies Generally Suck
Most gamers should be able to relate to the feeling of getting the game adaptation of the latest big film and being fairly disappointed when it doesn't live up to the expectations set by the movie. Children are especially vulnerable to this sad phenomenon, as they are less likely to read reviews, and more likely to buy something based on the movie character shown on the box. These are games like Back To The Future on the NES, which is like a Paperboy clone, but without any of the fun, and without anything that actually resembled anything in the movie. The problem is that these games are often rushed out to meet a movie release date, and they generally fail to recreate the vibe of the movies they are based on. Like the Friday The 13th (NES) game that failed to scare or be fun to play. Or the Atari 2600 E.T. game that was so unplayable that it has been blamed, by some, for the videogame crash of 1983.
There are exceptions to every rule however, and some movie licenses have resulted in brilliant games being produced, such as Goldeneye (N64) and The Chronicles of Riddick games (PS3, Xbox 360, PC). With adequate time and budgets given to designers of movie game licenses, tragic wastes like E.T., Jaws Unleashed and Enter The Matrix could be avoided in future.
Movies Based on Games Generally Suck
For some reason, when a film studio buys the rights to convert a videogame into a movie, they feel the need to change everything about the original property, often for the worse. Epic storylines get compressed, characters' stories get changed, and fans get angry. Producers realise that by casting a big star in a recognised title, big money can be made. Even better if it is a female star, who is willing to wear her characters' trademark sexy outfit. Examples include Angelina Jolie in the Tomb Raider films (2001, 2003), Milla Jovovich in the Resident Evil series (2002, 2004, 2007) and most of the cast of D.O.A. (2006).
Low budgets, poor writing and bad casting - apart from Bob Hoskins as Mario in Super Mario Bros (1993); that was pure genius - have left us with a buttload of movies that generally suck. Not much more needs to be said about the standard of these films... if you need further evidence then take a look at the following list of some more terrible movies (in my opinion) based on games:
Double Dragon (1994)
Street Fighter (1994)
Mortal Kombat (1995)
Mortal Kombat Anihilation (1997)
House of The Dead (2003)
Alone In The Dark (2005)
Max Payne (2008)
Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun Li (2009)
As previously mentioned, there are exceptions to every rule, but finding examples here is tricky to say the least! Announced upcoming movies based on games include popular franchises like Uncharted and Assassin’s Creed – let’s just hope Uwe Boll, director of House of The Dead, Alone In The Dark and Bloodrayne, isn’t allowed near either of them.
Games Have Practical Applications In Everyday Life
How many times have you been trying to control the Statue of Liberty, but not had a clue how to get her moving? The answer was finally revealed in Ghostbusters 2 (1989): use a Nintendo Advantage joystick. Who knew that Lady Liberty had built-in NES ports? Sometimes you just need to fool a criminal into thinking that you're holding a bomb detonator in your hand. In this kind of situation, K-9 (1989) shows us that a Nintendo Game & Watch will do nicely. That is until the game ends and the constant beeps turn into manic computerised laughter! Other times you get digitised, sucked into a giant computer and forced to compete in gladiatorial games against software programs. Tron (1982) showed us that in order to deal with this ever-increasing problem, you basically need the knowledge that can only be gained by programming all these games to begin with. If you didn't program them, unlucky.
Child Gamers Are Brilliant/Geniuses While Adult Gamers Are Immature/Undeveloped
Kids in movies can always beat adults at videogames, FACT. They also often have amazing computing skills in general. The little girl in Jurassic Park (1993) managed to learn the Park's IT system in roughly 2 minutes. This is fully believable though, as earlier on in the movie she claimed to be a hacker. She was good, but Hollywood's greatest hacker will always be David Lightman, played by Matthew Broderick in Wargames (1983). Lightman was not only a computer whiz, he was funny too (when challenged by his irritable science teacher, “Alright Lightman, maybe you could tell us who first suggested the idea of reproduction without sex”, David replies, “Um... Your wife?”). Unfortunately, while his computer hacking skills allowed him to sample new video games early and change his school grades, they also allowed him to inadvertently trigger a countdown to “Global Thermonuclear War”. Not so smart after all.
Probably the best example of videogame mastery by a child is in the film/Nintendo advert, The Wizard (1989). Jimmy Woods has the amazing ability to be awesome at videogames (“You scored 50,000 points on Double Dragon?!”), so his brother decides to abduct him and run away across America to compete in a games contest. Along the way his Dad is converted to (Nintendo) videogames, they meet the only kid in the world to ever enjoy his Nintendo Powerglove, and many Nintendo games get played and namechecked in the script. While the movie crashed and burned at the box office, Nintendo laughed all the way to the bank.
Kids are allowed to play videogames, but Hollywood hasn't been too friendly on adult gamers over the years. From 40 year old man-child Dale Doback playing Guitar Hero in Step Brothers (2008), to the 40 year old virgin playing in his gamers' chair in, um, The 40 Year Old Virgin (2005), adult gamers are generally either undeveloped or immature, and usually male. Older gamers seem to cling to their retro games, like Mickey Rourke's character Randy “The Ram” Robinson in The Wrestler (2008), who still plays against a local kid at an old NES wrestling game (created specifically for the movie), despite the child's obvious boredom with the 1980s technology. And who could forget the sight of Steve Wiebe in The King of Kong (2007), sat at his Donkey Kong arcade cab in his garage, on the verge of breaking the high score record, while all his toddler son can do is scream “Stop playing Donkey Konggg!” and tell him to come wipe his butt. Kids!
Videogames WILL Make You Kill
Spike Lee's drug crime drama, Clockers (1995), shows a young boy growing up in a New Jersey project, playing a virtual reality-esque game called Gangsta. The boy ends up shooting the local psychopath, possibly due to the environment he grew up in, but definitely due to the violent videogame. Just like in Juice (1992), when a game of Street Fighter early in the movie clearly inspires Tupac's character, Bishop, to become a homicidal maniac. The alternate ending where Tupac hurricane-kicks Omar Epps off the roof to his death has yet to be included in the DVD. Boyz 'N' The Hood (1991) is a movie chock-full of gun crime and gang related murders, all of which is a direct result of the scene where Nintendo's Duck Hunt, a game which shamelessly promoted gun use and duck murder, is being played.
WARNING: Strong language, violence towards wildfowl, and a jheri curl feature below:
Alternatively, Videogames Will Kill You
This article wouldn't be complete without mentioning that classic horror movie, Stay Alive (2006). Featuring an idiotic plot about a cursed underground survival horror game that somehow kills its players in the same way they die in the game, it is more of a comedy than a horror. Unfortunately for the makers of the film, this is completely unintentional. Viewers waiting for the Frankie Muniz death scene will be left unfulfilled, as he somehow survives, despite dying in the game. A low budget, poor acting and lame computer effects make this one of those films that is almost so bad it's good. Almost. Full review coming soon!
My name is Iain and my addiction is making pixel bead art. My main inspirations are comics, video games and movies.