Released in 1998, WarGames pays homage to the traditional video games you probably grew up with. The scene: a bored teen stumbles into the Pentagon’s (yes, the same one that got bombed in 13 years later) high-level computer system, called NORAD. Same teen starts what he thinks is a fictional game of nuclear war with other countries…except it’s not. The result is a ready-for-takeoff missile that’s aimed at Russia and the greater UN. The kid’s girlfriend ends up helping him try to save the day, which tells us that teen love is basically the best thing ever. But you already kind of knew that anyway.
An age-old classic featuring Dan Shor, David Warner and other actors that, if you were born in the 90s, you probably don’t recognize, 1982 Tron leaves a little to be desired, but it’s worth a watch and a space on your DVD rack. A religious gamer and also creator of games, creates a virtual world where he battles himself – then somehow beams himself into the computerized world. Tron is Flynn’s simultaneous struggle to get out and battle his own mind in the process.
If the fact that it’s an award-winning children’s book-turned-movie doesn’t make you want to see this, Robin Williams, Kirsten Dunst and Bonnie Hunt as stars just might. When a kid named Alan Parrish comes across a board game, he doesn’t quite realize its potential to transport him into the imaginary world he’s staring down at. Now in the game, he stays in the jungles of Jumanji for more than 20 years until he’s freed from the game by two more oblivious children.
Fully grown, Alan (as played by Williams), works with his friends, Sarah and Judy (Hunt and Dunst) to outplay the game and its powers. A comedic flick that’ll take you back to days of kickball and magic that almost feels real.
Indie Game: The movie
A Sundance award-winner, Indie Game: The Movie features the underdogs of the gaming industry in unexpected ways. We never really stop to think about them, the developers who translate ideas into virtual reality, but they’re the ones who take gaming to a whole other level (pun intended). Teaser: they’re surprisingly vulnerable and charismatic on-screen. At least, we didn’t expect that. Good for watching on a lazy Saturday, but you may want to sneak in a round of Game of Thrones afterward.
Think of Battle Royale as the early 21st century Hunger Games. This movie isn’t as much about gaming as we think of it now as it is a horrific reality struggle – so steer clear if you don’t like violence. A group of Japanese ninth-grade students are forced into what the government calls a Battle Royale. Each teenager gets a bag with the necessities: food, water and a random weapon. They also get three days to kill each other. The story also focuses less on society, as with the Hunger Games’ series. This one focuses on a few students in particular: an overly-hyper Kiriyama, or sexually oriented Mistuko.
Scott Pilgrim vs. The World
Based on a comic book by Canadian cartoonist Bryan Lee, Scott Pilgrim vs. The World details the real-world problems of our friend Scott. Pilgrim’s a part-time band geek and professional slacker who meets the girl of his dreams. To secure her, though, he’s gotta defeat not one, but 7 evil exes in mortal combat. The film relies mainly on video game tropes and 90s nostalgia. An urban fantasy that bends the laws of physics to create a world where Kung Fu rock battles are possible, and vegan skateboarders do exist…and must be taken down. Entertainment Weekly calls this one a ‘true original’. May the best man gamerwin.