This will be less of a review and more of an analysis. If you haven’t seen Wargames, you need to watch it. This movie is a classic for a reason. The cast is great, and the story is fun. Best of all? You can watch it for free on YouTube! Don’t waste your time on the sequel. It’s not bad, but it isn’t anything special.
I’ve been watching a few movies from the ’80s and something that stood out to me this time around was the use of video games. WarGames hinges on the idea that computer games can be used for learning. The first time we are introduced to Matthew, the main character, he is playing at an arcade. Matthew was looking up unreleased games when he found the AI that sets the plot in motion. Video games were also a subtle way to show character traits. Matthew playing video games is a way to show that he was intelligent and good with computers. Video games in these movies are a test of skill, but they are also a call to action. Look at movies like Tron or The Last Starfighter where video games start the plot. They are also an integral part of their storytelling.
Video games still play a big part in cinema today, although they have become less of a novelty. Gaming has become such a big part of our culture that it is embedded itself in our language. You hear it when people use words like “Epic” or “Noob” in their daily conversation. The morphology of words has shifted to cater to gamers. You watch movies like Free Guy that are loaded with gaming references, and we understand these references because they are so integrated into our culture. Things like the Fortnite dances or the Zelda shield don’t need context. There are Twitch streamers who share the same screen as big named actors. Gaming in movies has taken on a lot more roles and has helped tell a lot more stories. It is interesting to see where it all started and how much it has grown. That is if you ignore the commercial aspect of it.
Anyways, go watch Wargames!