For people who are into video games, seeing them portrayed in popular culture can often be quite amusing for how it might fail to convey what the experience is actually like. Whether this means the game just gets a few minor details wrong compared to its real-world counterpart, or whether it’s getting the terminology all wrong – it can be frustrating.

However, as these can sometimes only be fleeting cameos, it’s also interesting to look at depictions of fictional games – often when they are the focus of the entire film. While it’s difficult to compare with the real deal, there is still a parallel to be drawn between how the characters interact with that game and the state of gaming in the real world.


The primary example of online games found in some films might be the ones that they make up themselves. The recent Jumanji series might highlight this best of all, taking the board game from the original film and morphing it into an online game for modern times. This allows it to adapt to a more modern audience, being something potentially more familiar, but also allows the vernacular to adjust – making room for jokes and references that simply weren’t possible before, like the avatars not corresponding to the player.

Of course, a lot of the time, the game in this context functionally serves no purpose other than to be a setting – and it’s only connected to the concept of video games through dialogue and premise.

Gaming in the Background

A lot of the time, though, the games aren’t the focus of the film itself. These might be incidental scenes – small scenes or cutaways that involve online games for the sake of set dressing or a quick joke, or it might be something that’s more essential to the plot.

The former example of this is becoming more common, once again, due to online games simply being a relatable and accessible hook for modern audiences. For example, physical casinos might make for impressive movie settings, but with online casinos being as popular as they are with the variety of games and security assurances that modern platforms provide, it might be more common to see people playing online blackjack than going out to spin roulette tables.

References to Real-World Games

Another route that films often go down is what most people might recognize through Ready Player One. In this instance, while the film carves out its own narrative path, using original plot components found in the book that it’s adapted from, a lot of its identity comes from recognition from real video games.

Another example of this might be found through direct video game adaptations. Most recently, the Super Mario Bros. Movie is not only an adaptation of that world and characters, but it also uses that opportunity to make explicit references to games like Mario Kart and Super Smash Bros., popular online games that a wealth of audiences are going to recognize outside of who the film is primarily targeting.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.