Watching a Video Game

Obi-Wan: A disturbance in the Force! I sense a video game-like action sequence looming!
Zam Wessel: Are you ready to make some ''keeerazy'' money?
Obi-Wan: You're reckless, Anakin. Leaping across speeding aircars is dangerous business.
Anakin: I'll be OK, Master. I've been playing lots of Strider 2 lately!

A movie or show that derives a lot of its drama and suspense from throwing elements from Platform Games - or other twitch-based archetypal games - in the path of the protagonists.

Our heroes might, for example, negotiate narrow ledges on otherwise completely inaccessible rock faces or all but Floating Platforms (like in a Platform Game), fight foes in Interesting Situation Duels (like in a Beat 'em Up or a Boss Fight), and shoot Mooks in a Rollercoaster Mine (like in a Rail Shooter). Natural obstacles provide a good part of the Plot, Conflict and suspense. Alternatively, man-made structures like factories, powerplants, high-rise construction sites, a spaceship's engine room or an ancient crypt can provide the setting. If the characters are on a journey, the terrain will typically be extremely difficult but at the same time provide an obvious path of least resistance that is nevertheless very dangerous - it seems as though the environment was created by a level designer. Another indicator is when the characters move through different environments that change as abruptly as themed levels in a video game.

As in Video Games, the laws of physics will be rather flexible, and there will be natural formations or man-made structures that are unlikely to occur in Real Life but make for grand vistas and dramatic scenes. Typically, Willing Suspension of Disbelief is stretched more than in other movies but usually efforts are made to keep it below videogame level. Completely unattached Floating Platforms, for example, are a taboo outside of settings where neither magic nor Applied Phlebotinum is an obvious explanation.

When watching a movie like this you can be tempted to suspect that it was made with the Licensed Game in mind. The truth can be more complicated: Indiana Jones, for example, took its theme and setting from old pulp stories which happened to be influential in the media of videogame as well, as in An Adventurer Is You. Then again, the videogame adaptations of Indiana Jones themselves were very successful. Star Wars is as big a name in games as in movies. Extensive use of CGI sometimes doesn't exactly help to differentiate between games and movies visually.

Typical tropes featured in Watching a Video Game are a mixture of Action/Adventure Tropes and Video Game Tropes:

Dangers and Obstacles:

Solutions and Abilities:


Settings / Other:

If the terrain is not largely untouched by civilization, the following tropes may apply:

Note also that this trope has to be a recurring theme within a work to make the movie eligible. Spotting a single Platform Game scene does not mean that you're Watching a Video Game. If more than two of the tropes above occur, you have a solid candidate, though.

Contrast with Video-Game Movies Suck and Sudden Videogame Moment.


    open/close all folders 


    Live-Action TV 
  • The Doctor Who story "The Keys of Marinus," as expounded here.
  • "The Librarians and the Point of Salvation" has a LOT of fun with this. [1]

    Western Animation