Not coming to an arcade near you, so far.
An original Video Game
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
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
- The Show Within a Show Sensei and Ninomiya-kun of Minami-ke was within the show was turned into a game with many Unexpected Gameplay Changes. It went from Fighting to Platform to RPG to Resident Evil knockoff between levels. The cast was baffled.
- The World - A popular MMORPG from the .hack franchise.
- PHANTOMa from Serial Experiments Lain.
- Apocalypse is a Girls Love manga series revolving mainly about a fictional MMORPG.
- Firestarter of FLCL.
- YuYu Hakusho has Goblin City. Gamemaster allows us to learn more about it.
- In one episode of Outlaw Star, Aisha is seen playing a handheld game called Heartbreaker, which appears to be some sort of combination of Fighting Game and Dating Sim.
- Ore no Imōto ga Konna ni Kawaii Wake ga Nai has Syscalypse, a 3D fighting game revolving around clothing damage. A 2D version is in development currently here in Real Life.
- In Mayo Chiki!, Rich Bitch Kanade flirts with the computer club to have them make her a fighting game include all of them for Jiro's sister's birthday. For some reason Jiro is in his boxers, not that Subaru minds.
- Oh and Kanade's combo, press the A Button and instantly win.
- In Sailor Moon, The Game Center Crown hosts a series of arcade cabinets including the blank arcade cabinet voiced by Artemis pretending to be the mysterious "Game Machine" (Central Control in the dub).
- The game center has the VR fighting game Cyber Girl Warrior Lurga, appearing in volume 1, chapter 6 of the manga Codename: Sailor V. While the Super Famicom version doesn't use the same technology as the arcade version, a special adapter will allow playing the arcade version on the Super Famicom. The game is part of an energy draining plot by the Dark Agency.
- Minako plays a game called Lovely Fight at the game center in volume 1, chapter 2 of Codename: Sailor V, and claims to know about the myth of Artemis from a video game.
- The game center has the Sailor V sidescrolling game, a favorite of Usagi's. (IRL: Angel Studios' Sailor Moon R for the Game Boy includes a minigame segment based on the sidescroller).
- Usagi, Minako, and the mysterious Mugen Academy student Haruka play a racing game at the game center in episode 3 of Sailor Moon S.
- In Sailor Moon R episode 4 a VR laser shooting game is ambushed by the Cardian Hell Ant.
- In The Amazing Spider-Man #688-691 (No Turning Back), Curt Connors plays a 3D holographic puzzle game similar to Tetris on Horizon Labs' equipment, inspiring his Fridge Logic for a new Lizard formula.
- 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.
- Runaways starts with a Marvel themed PC MMORPG with The Invisible Woman, Captain America, Daredevil and The Hulk as playable characters. By Volume two it was a Plot Device All Along.
- Multi-World - Computer game in the Marvel Comics Transformers comic book; Optimus Prime and Megatron battle in the virtual world of this game, ending with Prime's apparent death.
- World of Hackcraft - MMORPG from Knights of the Dinner Table, based on the tabletop role-playing game Hack Master
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. Finish Line, an arcade game similar to Daytona USA, made a cameo appearance. And Turbo Time.
- 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
- TRON featured "Space Paranoids", and the famous "Light Cycles".
- Light Cycles has been repeatedly Defictionalized, notably as one of the four screens in the Tron arcade game. The most popular is Armagetron.
- Space Paranoids is now available online. It was recently featured in an episode of Once Upon a Time — Henry was playing it on a handheld gaming device that Regina gave him.
- The game from eXistenZ.
- WarGames has Global Thermonuclear War — or, if you're not in the movie, DEFCON.
- Starfighter arcade game from The Last Starfighter. A video game version was planned (and mentioned in the end credits), but never materialized. A version for the Atari 8-Bit Computers was in development, and later released as Star Raiders II.
- The title video game in the "Bishop of Battle"" segment of the movie Nightmares.
- Cloak & Dagger is another movie about a fictional video game (and RPG).
- "Stay Alive" from the movie Stay Alive. It looks like a voodoo-themed mod of Left 4 Dead.
- The Chumscrubber from the film of the same name.
- Big has Josh playing an unnamed text-based game with an evil wizard and ice giants. Defictionalized as The Cavern of the Evil Wizard .
- The Cock and Bulls house in Van Wilder 2: The Rise of Taj features a "Miss Nude America" pinball machine, complete with enthusiastic moaning and sound effects.
- In The Game Plan, football star Joe Kingman has a "Kingman" pinball in his apartment.note
- Similarly, The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou has a "Zissou" pinball on the boat.
- There is a "Richie Rich" pinball machine in the movie Richie Rich, with gold-plated metalwork and pictures of the Rich family all over the game.
- The David Spade movie Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star features a "Glimmer Gang" pinball, named after the protagonist's original TV sitcom.
- High School High has "Homeroom Homicide" and "Classroom Carnage" arcade games in the teacher's lounge.
- "Gang Fighter II" and "Rodney's Ride" appear in Don't Be A Menace To South Central While Drinking Your Juice In The Hood
- Alien: Resurrection has an "Atom Zone" game.
- A variation occurs in Grosse Pointe Blank, where Doom II appears in an arcade cabinet, even though it was never released as an arcade game.
- In I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry, Chuck owns a "Balica" video game cabinet.note
- James plays a "Bionic Mutant" arcade video game in Adventureland
- The B-grade sex comedy Pick-Up Summer centers around a pinball tournament where the competitors face off by playing "Arthur: The Talking Pinball Machine" and "Pinball Summer" (the original name of the movie).
- A "Ninja Ninja Revolution" arcade game appears in Scott Pilgrim vs. The World
- The Bishop of Battle - Arcade game featured in a segment of the 1983 film Nightmares.
- Domination - James Bond played this 3-D video game against a villain in the film Never Say Never Again.
- Game Over - Virtual reality video game in Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over.
- Ra.One - Wireless technology video game featured in the 2011 film Ra.One.
- Wrestle Jam '88 - Pro wrestling video game on the NES, from The Wrestler.
- 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.
- Larry Niven's Dream Park features a holographic virtual reality RPG theme park.
- 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.
- Death to Mantodeans - Console game featured in the Doctor Who novel "Winner Takes All".
- Hacker Snack from Orson Scott Card's 1992 novel Lost Boys, a video game written by the protagonist, similar to Chip's Challenge.
- OASIS - MMO featured in the Ernest Cline novel Ready Player One.
- 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" Total Immersion Video Game 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.
- Criminal Minds, S8 E8, "The Wheels on the Bus," has Gods of Combat, a competitive multiplayer online FPS, circa year 2000, with over six million players. Two teenage ex-players decide to use it as the basis for a Murder Simulator, where kidnapped students are forced to play by the rules. A Gods of Combat poster is seen on a wall in S9 E9, "Strange Fruit".
- CSI: Miami, S3 E18, "Game Over", has Dave Strong Studios' Thrash Canyon, winner of the "Best Overall Title" game award, an extreme skateboarding sim featuring Tony Hawk expy Dave Strong, developed with motion capture technology.
- CSI: Miami, S4 E9, "Urban Hellraisers", has Urban Hellraisers, a console GTA clone whose game developer willfully distributes weapons to the game players to enact a real life Murder Simulator.
- Law & Order: CI, S3 E10, "F.P.S.", features the third-person melee fighting competitive online deathmatch game Blood Match, where the winner of the arena is the one with the most opponent's heads on a stick. There's some mention of a Clan of the Assassins level. The game servers save replays of each match. Blood Match 2 is still in development. An ex-programmer's bot for Blood Match was linked to a children's sidescroller he had been working on, and somehow a Player Tic noticed between the two entirely different games was enough to implicate the programmer for murder.
- Law & Order: SVU, S12 E2, "Bullseye", has the Everearth console MMORPG series, which have servers in Korea, and an in-game location called The Kingdom of Galagor.
- Law & Order: SVU, S6 E14, "Game", has Tektop Games' NtenCity, a GTA clone, and the to be released Nten City 2. A hooker killing easter egg for the first game can be found on Internet fansites, and a mod by programmer and former employee Stuart Davis allows the hooker's blouse to be torn off in the game; these elements are enough to inspire video game addict Garrett Perle to murder a prostitute for real.
- Law & Order: SVU, S9 E2, "Avatar" has Another Youniverse, a Second Life expy.
- Law & Order: SVU, S16 E14, "Intimidation Game", has the non-violent Amazonian Warriors: Protectors of the Rainforest contrasted with the more violent FPS Kill or Be Slaughtered (KOBS).
- NCIS, S1 E4, "The Immortals," features the fantasy MMORPG The Immortals.
- NCIS, S1 E13, "One Shot, One Kill" has an unnamed light gun arcade game.
- NCIS, S8 E16, "Kill Screen", has L9 Games' Fear Tower 3◊ and Fear Tower 3: Enhanced Edition, an online PC MMORPG by Lead Programmer and hacker Reed Snyder, with 15 (or 50) million players. Scoring more points than the game can handle will reveal the game's Kill Screen and the developer's code for hacking The Pentagon, as discovered by Maxine, champion of Blood Fun 6 and high score holder of virtually every MMORPG.
- The Colbert Report's Stephen Colbert's Escape From Skateboard Mountain, Stephen Colbert's Return to Skateboard Mountain, and Stephen Colbert's World of Colbertcraft
- Full House season 8, episode 9 has SNES game Montezano's Quest.
- Ghost Whisperer season 4 episode "Ghost in the Machine" has Alt World-2, a Second Life expy.
- The obscure show Killer Instinct has the episode "Game Over", with a GTA clone called Murder One, played with a steering wheel.
- The Stargate SG-1 season 8 episode "Avatar" has a virtual reality combat training simulator.
- Touched by an Angel season 9, episode 18, "Virtual Reality", has Carjack 2000: Millennium Mayhem, where players gain points for stealing cars, killing drivers, breaking roadblocks and running over prostitutes, inspiring a kid to murder a woman he imagined was a prostitute for real.
- Warehouse 13 episode "Don't Hate The Player" has the BRAID (Bioelectric Reality Augmentation Interactive Device) virtual reality headset.
- The First Person Shooter virtual reality game in The X-Files episode "First Person Shooter".
- "The Game" in the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "The Game" - head-mounted virtual reality game.
- 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.
- Beetle Mania - Playable game in Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars.
- 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.
- Rin "Akihabara no Hondala" Watanabe appears in JAST's visual novel Runaway City. She masters the ultra-popular Virtual Ninja arcade game, beating one hundred opponents in a row. Virtual Ninja is made by the same video game company run by the father of the Player Character. Rin makes a brief appearance in the arcade in JAST's Season of the Sakura, where she beats that game's Player Character playing Virtual Ninja 2.
- 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".
- Cosmos Invasion - Arcade game that makes a cameo appearance in Little Big Planet 2.
- Finest Parmesan - This arcade game makes a cameo appearance in Little Big Planet 2.
- Science Diner - a Pong-like game that makes a cameo appearance in LittleBigPlanet 2''.
- The Nintari game system on The Adventures of Willy Beamish has a Super Mario Bros clone Willy practices on for the national Nintari competition/Nintari championship. The Sega CD version has the Nintari game system's playable Super Space K'Noidtrix minigame, combining elements of Space Invaders, Tetris and Arkanoid. There's also the Game Buddy handheld game system.
- Space Quest IV has the Galaxy Galleria's Software Excess, with such bargain bin gems as Scum Soft's Checkerboard Construction Kit and Cluck Egger's Advanced Chicken Simulator, Enemaware's It Came For Dessert, Roberta Williams III's King's Quest XXXXVIII - Quest for Disk Space, Morrie Brianarty's Boom, Broaderbuns' Where In The World Is Hymie Lipschitz? (And Who Really Cares), Max This! Software's Sim Sim, Sierra's Stunt Flyer, and Sahara Off-Ramp's Dacron Danny Does Dirty Deeds in the Dark Wearing Drip-dry Duds. Buckazoid Bill's Arcade and Sushi Bar has Ms. Astro Chicken: Flight of the Pullet (sequel to Astro Chicken from Space Quest III), Cap'n Zappo, Ghetto Blaster, Slime Flyer, Dweeb Hunter, Choke and Croak and Monaco Princess Stunt Drivin'
- Space Quest V, Molly's Chug & Glug Space Bar on Nova Space Station has Scum Soft's Battle Cruiser, a space-themed version of Battleship.
- Space Quest VI has the Dismembers Only arcade, featuring Beat the Crap Out of Urkel, the hot new game replacing last year's Beat the Crap out of the Encyclopedia Britannica Kid, MBA Toejam, Mixed-Up Mother Teresa, Secret Recipes of the Luftwaffe, More Dull Kombat, More Dull Kombat 2, Virtual Amtrak, and Stooge Fighter III, the the goriest, most violent arcade game since Disembowling for Dollars. The Com Post Database mentions "outer space strategy simulation games" designed by the Vulgars. The SCS Deep Ship 86's Command Center, which has an SNES/Gravis Gamepad style controller, can allegedly play a game called Super Nunzio World.
- 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.
- Between the Shared Universe of Sunstone and Blood Stain is the MMORPG Moonstone Gate, a place where readers get to see character interactions between two otherwise separate storylines. It also provides a place for the creators of the comics to poke fun at typical fantasy RPG tropes.