10 Video Games Played In Movies

One thing that sets video games apart from other forms of media is how relatively new it is. Video games rose to prominence in the 70s, which isn’t that long ago historically. However, video games have appeared in numerous films, even in its infancy as a medium.



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They can be quite important in the story, a one-off use for humor, or as a way to immerse the viewer in the world if the movie takes place in another country. Even in movies where video games are a common element, there’s usually one big game used for an important moment.

10 TimeSplitters 2: Shaun Of The Dead

Timesplitters 2 wild west level

The first installment of Edgar Wright’s Cornetto trilogy was the 2004 horror comedy classic Shaun of the Dead. It had plenty of pop culture references, including an infamous record-tossing scene, but it also had a video game appearance. The video game showcased is TimeSplitters 2, and it’s quite an interesting choice when you think about it.

Shaun of the Dead was filmed in England and made by England filmmakers, so it makes sense to use a game by England developers. Free Radical Design was made up of a lot of former Rare developers and is appropriately in the same country. Since Shaun of the Dead was a relatively small film while in production, it was wise to use a local developer’s game for budget reasons.

9 Doom 2: Grosse Pointe Blank

One of the opening areas of Vivisection filled with monsters in Doom 2 No Rest For The Living.

One of the most fascinating video game appearances has to be Doom 2 in the 1997 film Grosse Pointe Blank. First off, Doom 2 appears as an arcade machine, and the production designers did a good job of making it look like a legitimate cabinet.

Doom 2 was never in the arcades, but funny enough, id Software’s follow-up title, Quake was. In 1998, Quake was released in arcades, and the machine would actually give out tickets. Since this movie was released in ’97, the filmmakers were just one year off from making the scene 100 percent authentic.

8 Fortnite: Avenger’s Endgame

Fortnite promo art showing Spider-Man slongside other Fortnite skins above the game's map which has distict areas mashed into one playfield.

With Fortnite being one of the biggest games in 2019, you can easily see an appearance coming up in one of the most anticipated films in recent times. Fortnite does indeed appear in Avengers: Endgame, being played by some of Thor’s friends.

It’s interesting that despite half of all life being gone, Fortnite is still a massively popular game with a big community. It adds a bit to the world-building, although the way the game’s used is rather cliche with the trash talk. You’ve definitely seen this type of scene before in other films.

7 Wild Gunman: Back To The Future Part 2

Two cowboys in the desert, each with a speech bubble saying

In terms of iconic video game scenes, especially out of 80s cinema, one has to be the 80s cafe from Back to the Future Part 2. Nintendo’s Wild Gunman is the big video game to appear here, and it’s a short but iconic and funny scene.

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Marty boots up the game and quickly shoots all three enemies in a slick fashion. However, the kids watching deliver the iconic line, “You mean you have to use your hands. That’s like a baby’s toy.” It’s a great scene and remembered more than the game itself.

6 Adventure: Ready Player One

The famous Easter Egg in Adventure with the developer credit.

A common legend in video games is that Adventure for the Atari 2600 was the first instance of an Easter egg. Hidden, tucked away, is the developer Warren Robinett’s credit, as it was against the policy at the time to give public credit to individual game devs.

To be fair, when the Ready Player One novel was released in 2011, there weren’t any earlier Easter eggs discovered at that point. When the movie was released in 2018, however, the fact was simply not true anymore, as an earlier egg was found the year prior. Still, Adventure is pretty important to the story’s climax and to certain themes. Hence, it’s understandable why it was left in.

5 Super Mario Bros 3: The Wizard

Super Mario Bros 3 NES: Mario Next To A Giant Goomba and Piranha Plant In Giant Land

Games are often announced at video game showcases, but it’s surprising looking back that Super Mario Bros 3 got announced in North America in a movie. It sounds weird today, but in a world where the internet hasn’t taken hold yet, the climax of 1989’s The Wizard was incredibly effective.

The film itself is a cheesy, lovable bad flick that’s nostalgic for many, but the climax was legitimately hype back in the day. The final round of the Video Armageddon tournament is playing a brand new game, Super Mario Bros. 3. While incredibly unrealistic today that a tournament would end with a game nobody’s practiced for, this finale was worth the ticket price for many back then.

4 Double Dragon: Double Dragon

double dragon arcade billy jimmy marian

There are plenty of bad video game movies, but for the Double Dragon film, one of the only notable things about it is that the game itself appears in it. In the film’s climax, out of nowhere, the actual Double Dragon arcade cabinet shows up.

It isn’t well hidden either and appears quite prominently. The House of the Dead movie also has the game itself in it, but not in the actual film’s universe. Game footage just appears during transitions. This is a complete time paradox going on here, and it’s wild to see.

3 Gears Of War: The Hurt Locker

Gears Of War Shot Of Marcus Holding Lancer

Academy Award-winning picture The Hurt Locker takes place in the second year of the Iraq War. This fact is important as it doesn’t really match up with the video game that appears in it. In the film, you see soldiers playing Gears of War on an Xbox 360.

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Since Gears of War 1 launched in November 2006, the film’s two years off here. It is realistic, though, for soldiers to play games since certain devices are often used with a video game controller.

2 Street Fighter: It – Chapter Two

Retsu divekicks toward Ryu in front of a temple in Street Fighter 1.

It: Chapter Two is filled with flashback sequences. Not as many as a standard Saw film, but still a lot. During Richie’s flashbacks, you see him playing Street Fighter 1 in the arcades. The kids’ portion of the modern It series takes place in the late 80s, so the filmmakers couldn’t use the actual popular fighting game Street Fighter 2, as it launched in ’91.

This is a bit immersion-breaking if you know video game history, as Street Fighter 1 was not a popular game at all. So much so many didn’t even know or heard of the first game when the second title exploded in popularity and sparked the 90s fighting game boom. A game like Double Dragon would have been a better fit.

1 Pop’n Music: Lost In Translation

Mimi and Honey face off in an arcade playthrough of Pop'n Music Fever.

With Lost in Translation taking place in Japan, you really have to maximize the setting here to keep in the realism but also the various themes. There are not many games that better showcase a Japanese environment than Pop’n Music. A rhythm game with a unique whack-a-mole-style control scheme, it’s among the genre’s best.

Chances are you likely haven’t heard of this series, and that’s why using it in the movie is so effective. Pop’n is huge in Japan, and because it’s pretty obscure outside of that country, it helps the immersion and important themes.

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