How Hollywood Gets Video Gaming Wrong

by Dan Ryckert on Oct 04, 2012 at 11:04 AM

This morning, I received a press release regarding an upcoming movie titled Noobz. A few things can be surmised from that title. You know that it's going to contain teabagging jokes, plenty of talk about "pwning," and most likely a douchey antagonist who derides the gamers for not knowing how to have sexual intercourse with ladies. After seeing the trailer below, I feel extremely confident about my predictions.

The sad thing is, the movie will probably be closer to gamer culture than most other Hollywood depictions of our industry. It's got Adam Sessler, a nod to Billy Mitchell and The King of Kong, and a legit video game franchise (Gears of War) as the focal point of the movie's competition. Unfortunately, the "pwn" talk, sexual immaturity, and annoying man-child stereotypes are also true in more cases than adult gamers would like to admit. When the atrocious-looking Noobz is a more faithful nod to gaming culture than other shows and movies, that's an issue. Let's look at some examples of Hollywood proving that they don't understand our industry.

Sound Effects

One of my biggest pet peeves is the way TV shows think video game sound effects sound like. It's 2012, and you'll frequently see shots of kids playing an offscreen game. Gaming often features Hollywood-caliber soundtracks at this point, but every game apparently sounds like Donkey Kong on Atari 2600 according to television producers. Look at the My NHL commercial above. These dudes are clearly playing an Xbox 360 hockey game, and it's emitting laser sound effects.


At Least Get The Controller Right

Above is a memorable scene from 2005's The 40 Year-Old Virgin. It features Paul Rudd and Seth Rogen playing Mortal Kombat: Deception. In a rare move by Hollywood, this scene actually includes the correct sound effects. Despite this, they got a similarly-fundamental detail completely wrong. Deception came out on Playstation 2, GameCube, and the original Xbox, Looking at the clip, you'll see Seth Rogen playing with a Nintendo 64 controller and Paul Rudd awkwardly fondling what could very well be a flight stick or something. There are clearly people on the crew and in the cast that have played video games before. Is it that difficult for a prop person to get the right controller?


Game Gear Requires Games

Above is a shot from Rumble in the Bronx, a 1995 Jackie Chan vehicle. Just look at it.


"A 10-Meg Pipe"

This one is so bad, it almost seems like the NCIS writers are intentionally trolling gamers. The line "You hold the high score in virtually every massively-multiplayer online role-playing game" is perfect.


That's How Computers Work

This clip from NBC's Life tasks a gaming savant with beating the dreaded level 10 of Prince of Persia: The Two Thrones (even though that's not how that game works at all) in order to unlock files on a PC. Virus protection would be so much cooler if that's really how computers worked.


Note: This next clip features a spoiler from season 4 of Breaking Bad.

Meth Cooks Get Exclusive Peripherals

Breaking Bad is an incredibly well-produced show. That's why it's surprising to see a basic screw-up like this, especially considering that Rage was being advertised on the program. You'd think that the team at id would explain to Vince Gilligan and company that their FPS was not, in fact, a light gun game.


This Is What Second Life Is Like?

I can't even tell what the hell's going on in this CSI: New York clip. I can just tell that it's super stupid. Also, that dude is playing Second Life with what appears to be a calculator.


While idiotic clips like these are usually the rule rather than the exception, films and TV shows like 30 Rock, The Office, Reign Over Me, and Mallrats have managed to portray video games semi-accurately without making their fans out to be complete idiots. I'm just looking forward to the day that the rest of Hollywood realizes that Call of Duty doesn't sound like Pac-Man.