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The Classification of Gaming in TV/Movies

The burden of knowledge is a hefty one, acting as both a gift and a curse. The gift part arising in meaningful conversations on video games, and the curse part arises when I am forced to witness an actor/actress pretending to be immersed in a video game. Be it television or movies, when filmmakers depict gaming, be it playing or showcasing the actual gameplay...it always comes off as hilarious.

To be fair, not everyone is well versed in how to handle a controller and I have even been in situations where I handed one to a non-gamer only to have them stare as if I just asked them to solve a nine sided Rubix cube. I also understand the idea of copyrighting and licensing not allowing access to certain sounds or visuals. Regardless, the performances are quite entertaining, and I've come to categorize these appearances accordingly:

The Button Masher

The most notable, obvious, and bothersome method actors use when pretending they are engrossed in a game...the button masher. Much like Super Smash Brother's Crazy Hand, these individuals will smash every movable surface on a controller to simulate the sensation of playing. Because we all know that when we want to conquer a castle or tackle a large boss, the best method is to just hit as many of those pretty buttons as possible for the best result. While I am sure I have used this method multiple times on Street Fighter...it still didn't help.

The cherry on top is the patented "controller shake" of physically moving the entire controller up and down, as if the momentum from your efforts will transfer to the game and improve your movement speed. This transferred from movies to my brother who at the time attempted turning his controller during Mario Kart, as if the sudden shift will help him not fall off of Rainbow Road.

The Future of Gaming

Movies seem to have it pegged on what video games will be like in the future. Most depict us hopping into a virtual reality field and physically duking it out or in the extreme case, hopping into a convict and fighting your way through other convicts (Gamer from 2009). The 2005 film The Island was the first to predict the full potential of the Kinect! Look at all those Xbox stickers on the walls! You don't think Microsoft was watching this and...no, that's crazy talk. Still, the thought of being able to virtually kick the crap out of a few siblings on Christmas would be a neat thing, but I am still weighing the pros and cons of not having a controller...

What Console is That?

We are quite familiar with our brands of console and what franchise belongs where...but not everyone agrees. Here we see Jesse from AMC's Breaking Bad playing what we know to be Rage....with a light gun. Unless there was a Wii accessory I was not aware of, this is news to me! Oftentimes there will be an actor playing Uncharted on an Xbox or Gears of War on the PS3. It's a small thing, but enough to bug me for the next ten minutes or until a plot hole in a movie shifts my frustration elsewhere....

The New IP

Similar to the "What Console is That" method, the New IP takes a system and throws a game in there that does not even exist. Here we see Spike Lee trying to convey the negative stereotypes that exist in most violent games these days, and the portrayal itself is an interesting one. I don't remember losing points in GTA for "losing my ride" and I certainly don't remember having the ability to shove a grenade in a dead man's mouth. It's a shocking portrayal that does not do gaming justice, but the real crime here was the gameplay...

The Over-actor

Most prominent in commercials, this is when people play a game in a way that no sane person would ever strive to recreate. With the slew of dance titles on the market, the Wii takes the cake on this one. They always portray a group of incredibly good looking friends getting together, being cheered on by spectators in the background. The commercial would be more accurate if they portrayed the dancer as the most intoxicated of the group with limited hand/eye coordination, a group of people staring in fear from the couch, and a couple arguing in the background because the boyfriend is clearly not paying attention to her tonight. But hey, you're trying to sell a product, so it's totally understandable...just know we find it funny.

As time goes on this trend may end up passing and Hollywood will gain a better understanding of how games work and what they are all about, but for every handful of failures we still manage to get a gem:

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