Joystick Nation

19-Jun-07 5:22 PM by
Filed under Films; Comments Off on Joystick Nation

Considering the name for this site is derived from another, Gamebits, it's not surprising that I find the union of movies and games to have powerful potential. Even abominable amalgams such as the Bob Hoskins/Dennis Hopper vehicle Super Mario Bros. has its value — such as making Mortal Kombat look good. (MK is by far the best video game based on a movie, for whatever that's worth.)

But not everyone feels their beloved medium of electronic entertainment has been fairly or even effectively represented on the silver screen. Gaming site has a feature on the "Seven stupidest videogame scenes in movies". What films employ gaming to the worst effect? Jackie Chan's Rumble in the Bronx earns this tongue-lashing: "When people complain about the way videogames are shown in movies, this is exactly what they're talking about: blank stare, madly waggling thumbs and atonal bloops and bleeps that haven't been used as game audio since 1976." I can certainly agree that the portrayal of games as a killing simulator used to breed the next generation of soldiers was not what we needed to avoid a moral panic.

Yet I persist in believing that even the bad can be good. The Wizard, Tobey Maguire's silver screen debut (it's true!), inspired legions of loser gamers, dreaming of being popular and successful — especially at next year's Nintendo World Championships. It didn't matter that The Wizard had such cornball lines as, "I love the Power Glove. It's so bad." And the scene where Christian Slater wakes up to find his father, Beau Bridges, has overnight become a Nintendo geek is every boy's dream come true. Finally! My parents can relate to me! (Even Mr. Bridges' jerky controller motions closely approximate my own paternal unit's efforts to play Tetris.)

But what about the cameos? Gamesradar has completely overlooked some classic films. In Terminator 2, moments before he first encounters the T-1000, young John Connor is playing Missile Command — a foreshadowing of the apocalyptic Judgment Day he then sets out to avert. If that isn't masterful, I don't know what is.

Surely there are even more blessed unions I'm missing. What are your favorite spottings of games on screen?

(Note: Gamesradar's article is the closest I've ever come to seeing an Uwe Boll film. Even that was too much. Pardon me while I find a red-hot poker with which to extinguish my eyes…)