Fictional Video Game

Not coming to an arcade near you, sadly.

An original Video Game or Pinball described in detail through a work of narrative fiction. Very prone to Defictionalization, even when not made into an official licensed game.

If it's a video game, may be part of a Cyberspace environment.

If described in such detail (though games like Ultra Super Death Gore Fest Chainsawer 3000 tend not to be), they'll generally avert Pac Man Fever. If it's hazardous to whoever plays it, see Most Dangerous Video Game.

See also Game Within a Game, Sudden Videogame Moment, Watching a Video Game, and Personal Arcade.


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    Anime & Manga 

    Comic Books 
  • In an old issue of The Mighty Thor, an arcade game called Megatak was being promoted; unfortunately, an industrial thief named Gregory Nettles tried to steal the prototype software at the expo where it was being promoted. Apparently, he wasn't much of a thief; his attempt got himself electrocuted, then somehow sucked into the machine, and turned into a virtual being representing the game's protagonist, with the ability to bring the monsters in the game to life, which he used to send on a rampage. When Thor showed up, Megatak got lucky, taking Thor by surprise and knocking him down; needless to say, when Thor got up again, he floored the guy with one blow, and his powers faded. After spending a few months as "a mercenary in a dumb costume", he was killed by Scourge.

    Films — Animation 
  • That Buzz Lightyear game within Toy Story 2, which looked very cinematic for a Super NES game, even compared to the Donkey Kong Country series and other prerendered games on that platform.
  • Thou Art Dead from Monster House. (The game was made playable for the DVD release... so cool.)
  • Wreck-It Ralph, being a movie about video game characters has at least three fictional games that are the homes of the main characters. Ralph and Felix come from Fix-It Felix Jr., a game similar to Donkey Kong and Wrecking Crew. Sergeant Calhoun comes from a game called Hero's Duty, which is a Light Gun Game with a science-fiction design (borrowing elements from Mass Effect and Metroid), and Vanellope comes from Sugar Rush Speedway, a Racing Game inspired by Mario Kart with a candy theme going for it.
  • Planet 51 has several alien pinball machines in the bowling alley.
  • In Ralph Bakshi's X-rated Heavy Traffic, the main character Michael repeatedly plays a pinball machine, a metaphor for the randomness of fate and people's place in the universe.
  • In My Little Pony Equestria Girls: Rainbow Rocks, Applejack and Rainbow Dash play one at Pinkie's house, based on a humanized version of the Mane-iac.

    Films — Live-Action 

  • After a harrowing run through an Indiana Jones-styled hallway loaded with traps and a massive fight at the end of it, the title characters of Billy and Howard go home and play a game based on what they just did.
  • In Diary of a Wimpy Kid, the main character is a fanboy for the game 'Twisted Wizard', which is apparently on the Wii. He's so obsessed with it, he evens prays to God so that he can beat a level without using a medical pack.
  • Free Play in Ender’s Game, which seems to be an adventure game, set in some sort of Dream Land, that was designed by the Battle School folks to secretly test each student's creativity and psyche. That Cruelty Is the Only Option in a few of the game's trickier puzzles comes back to torment Ender.
  • The hero of the Iain Banks novel Complicity spends most of the book playing a world-builder game called Despot, which he describes as "byzantinely complicated, baroquely beautiful, spectacularly immoral and utterly, utterly addictive." Word of God says it was inspired by Civilization (which supposedly almost made him miss the book's deadline). He also mentions he used to play a sci-fi game named "Xerium".
  • Another Iain Banks novel, The Steep Approach to Garbadale, features a family-run games business whose fortune is built on a board game called Empire!.
  • Tad Williams' Otherland series features a ton of these - appropriately since it's set Twenty Minutes into the Future and the key feature is a world wide virtual reality network. Particularly significant is the "Middle Kingdom", portrayed as the ultimate fantasy MMORPG, not to mention the game-within-a-game virtual worlds of the Grail Network itself.
  • The samurai Fighting Game in Snow Crash.
  • In the Star Wars Expanded Universe, the highly realistic simulators tend to either be played as games or Unwinnable Training Simulations. Sometimes both. In the Hand of Thrawn duology, Supreme Commander Pellaeon sometimes used an AT-AT simulator. It was frustrating sometimes, but enough unlike his normal duties that it was actually a form of relaxation. Of course, it also meant that he became more familiar with how the machines performed on different terrains, which meant that he might be better able to deploy them.
  • Somewhat similar to the above, in Diane Duane's The Wounded Sky, Sulu put together a spaceflight simulator on the rec deck holotank that lets him play with unconventional sublight combat tactics (flying a starship as if it were a high performance atmospheric fighter). He insists that the underlying physics model is accurate, if on the outer edge of the performance envelope for the Enterprise. Kirk comes in toward the end of a particularly spectacular session where Sulu manages to crash his simulated ship into a Klingon cruiser. A bit later in the book, a situation arises where highly unorthodox sublight combat is called for:
    Kirk: Mr. Sulu, you play tank games, don't you?
    Sulu: Sir! Yes sir—
    Kirk: Get it right this time.
  • The game of the same name in Only You Can Save Mankind.
  • The titular game in Killobyte. Piers Anthony also wrote a Xanth book revolving around a game, to give the designers the basic idea of what to make when they defictionalized it.
  • The plot of Halting State by Charles Stross starts with a major event in a World of Warcraft- style game called "Avalon four". Several other MMORPGs appear throughout the book.
  • Several parts of La Révolution des Fourmis of Bernard Werber describe various characters playing a Civilization-like video game named Origines.
  • Dark Krassnia, the MMO created by Lucy Stone and Digital Damage Productions in The Restoration Game by Ken Macleod, based on Lucy's mother's epic work of Krassnian mythology The Krassniad. There's also the fact that the entire world is a video game of sorts, just a highly detailed one with sentient NPCs.

    Live-Action TV 
  • NCIS featured these commonly. Mostly MMOs. Most notably "Captains of Industry 3" a terrible MMO that barely anybody played.
    Abby: Captains of Industry 3. The completely unnecessary third installment of the not-so-popular sequel.
    McGee: (sarcastically) Capturing all the fun of being a corporate CEO and building your own business empire.
    Abby: Not playtime, Elf Lord.
    McGee: You got that right. COI3 was universally panned as '08's worst MMORPG.
  • The second series of Look Around You had a whole segment on fictional 1980s games... some of which, such as Diarrhea Dan, actually did end up getting implemented in Flash.
  • Ace Lightning and the Carnival of Doom from Ace Lightning.
  • "Better Than Life" from Red Dwarf.
  • Caprica had a game called "New Cap City", a reference to Grand Theft Auto.
  • House had some sort of recurring alien FPS that first showed up being developed in season six. The enemies in the game were bird-monsters, and this was the clue that led to curing the game designer. Birds had been the cause of his illness, which the patient somehow psychically understood, and subconsciously incorporated into his game. Foreman and Taub are later seen playing it.
  • CSI had Aeron's Legion on its videogame-centric episode.
  • Vikings of the Realm in the Rizzoli & Isles ep "Virtual Love".
  • The Law & Order: Special Victims Unit episode "Identity" featured a pinball machine called "Murder & Destruction"
    • The episode "Care" featured an adventure game favored by a developmentally challenged foster child. The similarity between the game's artwork and the condition of the victim lead the detectives to consider the child a suspect until they play the game and discover the child was trying to save the victim from their abusive foster mother.
  • The Rules of Engagement episode "Old School Jeff" featured a "Poker Pinball" game.
  • One episode of Diff'rent Strokes showed Arnold playing a "Space Sucker" arcade video game.
  • In one episode of Mr. Belvedere, the Owens family gets a "Firebomb" pinball table,note  but gets rid of it once Belvedere becomes addicted to the game.
  • The Community episode "Digital Estate Planning" featured "Journey To Hawkthorne", an adventure game with relatively deep gameplay, 8-bit graphics...and blatant racist overtones. The winner inherits the fortune of the game's designer.


    Video Games 
  • Polybius... We hope... Defictionalized: Good luck!
  • Grand Theft Auto: Vice City has commercials on its radio stations for the Degenetron game system, which features such titles as Defender of the Faith, "Where you destroy the blue dots with your powerful red square!" In San Andreas, you can actually play these games on retro arcade machines.
  • Eat Lead: The Return of Matt Hazard is supposedly the latest incarnation of an entire fictional video game franchise.
  • The World from the .hack// franchise. (Yes, it's a videogame, where you play as a character playing a fictional videogame. Defictionalized, possibly, but certainly a hint meta and loving it.)
  • In the GameCube version of Animal Crossing, which included real NES games, the mayor, Tortimer, would give players the fictional NES game Super Tortimer as a present on April Fool's Day. Unfortunately, it can't be played; attempting to only results in a message that says it's an April Fool's Day joke.
  • No More Heroes has the SHMUP "Pure White Giant Glastonbury" game, and the sequel has "Bizzare Jelly 5", both of which you can play on Travis' TV.
  • Nasu from Yume Nikki. It is a depressingly repetitive Endless Game, and it helps with the ambience. When Madotsuki falls asleep she appears on her balcony, but when she enters her room her console and controller are gone. Many have made WMGs about this.
  • The NES-esque Tranoid, from the song of the same name in beatmania IIDX 14. note 
  • Maniac Mansion has an arcade which is full of these. Unfortunately, the game averts Game Within a Game and none of them are playable. (Or fortunately since the characters label each of the games, except for Meteor Mess, as "Pretty boring".)
  • Duke Nukem:
    • In Duke Nukem 3D, the player can find a "Balls of Steel" pinball machine, but can't actually play it. Later defictionalized as one of the tables in the Balls of Steel collection.
    • "Balls of Steel" returns in Duke Nukem Forever as a fully-playable game-within-a-game, though it's not related to the "Duke Nukem" table in Balls of Steel.
  • The Matrix: Path of Neo mentions, in passing, during the kung-fu/ninja training level how Neo had the high-score for a, likely arcade, game called "Ninja Crisis".

    Web Animation 
  • Homestar Runner has quite a few of these made by the fictional company Videlectrix. Some have been defictionalized.

    Web Comics 
  • Years of Yarncraft in Sluggy Freelance (take a guess what it's a parody of).
    • Along with Fashion Rancher Waif on the PSP.
  • Chainsawsuit featured the recurring "Boiga Bruddas", a parody of early Mario games. Later, an American company remakes it as an ultra-violent first person shooter.
  • Homestuck gives us Sburb.

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • Waaay back in Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends, Flash Thompson's favorite arcade game was something called Video Man. In the episode where it premiered, however, Electro was somehow able to bring the Antagonist Title Character in the game to life, thereby creating the most memorable villain in the whole series.
  • In a classic episode of Muppet Babies, the babies play several video games, all of which are quite detailed. Kermit plays a game similar to Frogger, Rowlf plays an Adventure Game, and the main focus of the episode is on Gonzo and Miss Piggy's trek through "The Tale of Imelda." The final level of that game even references Metroid, as the writers have Shown Their Work. In fact, the sheer number of game references in the episode (to everything from good-old Pac-Man to Fantasy Zone to that exercise mat for the NES) suggests that somebody on the staff was a gamer of some sort. The episode also had a few seconds of Donkey Kong Jr. shown onscreen.
  • Heroin Hero in South Park has been made into several different versions since its broadcast via Flash. (Just search Newgrounds.)
  • Everlot, from one episode of Kim Possible.
  • An episode of The Brak Show featured a fighting game with Atari-level graphics called "Headkicker". It was eventually adapted into Flash by [adult swim].
  • The Games from ReBoot, in addition to functioning as disaster-level threats for the heroes to overcome, were also Fictional Video Games, frequently pastiches of real video game tropes and genres.
    • Word of God says the writers modeled the games after genres they happened to be interested in at the time.
  • The Simpsons has had several game parodies, but most have been one-off gags. An exception is "Earthland Realms," essentially a Simpsons version of World of Warcraft, which becomes the major focus of an episode. In stark contrast to the actual World of Warcraft, nearly everyone in the game looks and acts almost exactly like they do in 'reality'...Apu even runs a shop in the game.
    • There was the Punch-Out-like 'Super Slugfest' from "Moaning Lisa", 'Bonestorm' and 'Lee Carvello's Putting Challenge' from the shoplifting Christmas episode, the Crash Bandicoot-esqe game (Dash Dingo) Lisa plays in the episode where she stays home from school for some reason, and I think I remember Bart playing parodies of more recent games like Grand Theft Auto (also Grand Theft Scratchy from The Simpsons Game) and in the season 22 Treehouse of Horror Bart and Milhouse play a violent online wiimote-using game with their local pastor. Bart accidentally smacks Milhouse in the eye. Moving on to fictional arcade games... well there are sooooo many. Standouts include: My Dinner With Andre, The Touch of Death, Billy Graham's Bible Buster, Escape From Death Row, and Larry the Looter. Also in the background of one episode a polybius cabinet can be seen, but whether or not that game is fictional is... unresolved.
      • Kevin Kostner's Water World was a game shown in the Simpsons, but possibly unknown to them a Water World game actually existed for the Virtual Boy, Pc, and SNES (with one planned for the genesis but never distributed outside of the Sega Channel)
    • In one episode, Bart and Lisa play a "Foul Play" pinball with Chevy Chase and Goldie Hawn.
      Bart: "The graphics are great — the ball looks so real!"
    • Another time, Homer plays a pinball called "Devil's Advocate" to avoid an argument with Marge. Furthermore, one of the Couch Gags involves the family in a Pinball Gag with a table called "Couch Gag Chaos".
  • "Crunch Pod" from Pepper Ann. Take your three Pac-Man-looking creatures and bump the other player's from behind while avoiding attacks from the Star Castle-esque spinning saucer in the middle.
  • One episode of Dexter's Laboratory featured Dexter trying to win a video game, which Dee Dee was a lot better at. Of course, he uses pretty much his entire laboratory for the task.
  • In one episode of Teen Titans, Beast Boy is able to hack into a system to download an early copy of a game called Mega Monkeys 2. However, because it's a pirated copy, his regular console lacks the necessary hardware to play it, so he tries to play it on Cyborg's computer, but accidentally uses Cyborg's recharging generator instead. When Cyborg tries to use it, well, the results aren't pretty. (And the resulting crisis sets up the plot.)
  • The Futurama pilot episode began with Fry playing an arcade Shoot 'em Up called Monkey Fracas, Jr.
  • Doug played "Space Munks" on the Super Pretendo.
    • And "Bag the Neematoad" at the arcade.
  • In Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends, Bloo has been shown playing Super Mega Blasteroids on the Gamecube.
  • The latest Wii Fit game as seen on Robot Chicken.
  • Arthur had Virtual Goose, a computerised version of a Hungry Hippos type game played by DW called Confuse the Goose (defictionalised as a pattern matching game); Virtual Goose 5.0, a sort-of MMORPG; and a couple of games based on Dark Bunny.
  • Johnny Test features a parody of Pokémon called Tinymon, which even features a Tinymon that looks like Lugia!
  • Super Pluckio Bros., a parody of Super Mario Bros. seen in Tiny Toon Adventures. Curiously enough, sound effects from the actual SMB game can be heard in the episode said game was featured in.
  • The episode "The World's Deadliest Game" of Challenge Of The Superfriends had Toyman build a giant pinball machine on an ice planet, which he used to torment Black Lighting and Wonder Woman.
    Toyman: "Wonder Woman in the hole! I get a thousand points and a free ball!"
  • In an early episode of Xiaolin Showdown, Kimiko tries to cheer Raimundo up by offering him her handheld system with Goo Zombies II, which is supposedly a hot new title.
  • The Scooby-Doo video game that's the main subject of Scooby-Doo and the Cyber Chase. It's pretty much a Crash Bandicoot/Croc style linear 3D platformer with a whole laundry list of Stock Video Game Settings, which ends with the gang meeting their earlier incarnations and fighting many of the monsters they'd encountered in the past (in video game form). As you may have guessed, Defictionalization was involved, with the fictional game basically ending up as the official licensed game of the movie.
  • In Batman: The Animated Series, Edward Nygma (prior to becoming the Riddler) designed a video game called Riddle of the Minotaur which became a smash hit, making the company he worked for millions in profits. Unfortunately, his greedy boss cheated him out of the royalties and took all the credit for himself, thus beginning Nygma's Start of Darkness. (Oddly enough, despite the game's popularity, nobody had managed to finish it at the present time, according to Robin.)
  • Pro-Pain! from King of the Hill is a student-developed sandbox game inspired by Grand Theft Auto. Hank was made by his boss to investigate the game to verify any copyright infringement on Strickland Propane. It is eventually discovered that the game is public domain, but by then Hank had become addicted to the game, so the developers of the game made Peggy an uber-player and pitted her against Hank. Hank defeats her, but the developers rigged it so that Peggy's defeat causes the gaming network to crash, breaking Hank's addiction.

Alternative Title(s):

Fictional Pinball Game