These are what we call the 'YMMV items.' Things that some people find in this work. We call them 'your mileage might vary' because not everyone sees these things in the same way. This starts discussions in the trope lists, a thing we don't want. Please use the discussion page if you'd like to discuss any of these items.
Contested Sequel: There was a direct-to-TV sequel of this film, released in the 2000s, in which WOPR/Joshua, an elder Dr. Falken, and various friendly hackers have to fight a modern game server with military applications (apparently in that order, seeing how many people game on her) named RIPLEY. This one has considerably more real-life damage — there is no real thermonuclear war, but there are some devastating non-nuclear attacks on American infrastructure.
Harsher in Hindsight: On September 26, 1983, just three months following its release, a Soviet early warning station detected 5 inbound ICB Ms. Colonel Stanislav Petrov, the man in charge of the station, decided it was a false alarm and did not report it to his superiors. He surmised that no one would launch just five ICBM's as a first strike... they'd launch EVERYTHING.
Sequelitis: Most people have no idea that a sequel was made. This is a very good thing. Filmed a full two decades after the original, The Dead Code features only one returning character, played by a different actor (two if you consider WORP/Joshua), and has little to do with the original film outside of a handful of connections. It also features some of the worst writing and acting ever committed to celluloid.
"A strange game. The only winning move is not to play. How about a nice game of chess?"
It's a rare movie that does it without demonizing anyone on either side or reducing them to cliche' stereotypes.
Values Dissonance: How many modern viewers facepalm when they see the list of passwords on a sheet of paper right next to the computer? In fact, if you're reading this website, that's likely exactly what you've been told not to do ever since you were big enough to hit a spacebar. (Anyone in tech support, or who enjoy Not Always Right and similar "customer service hell" anecdotes, knows that this still happens today.)
Ironically, depending on the level of control you have over your workspace, this is becoming less of an issue; very frequently today, if someone has physical access to the system, you're doomed anyway as far as security goes. Though on the other hand, it does make it easier to cause mischief quickly.
For that matter, using your kid's name as a password is just as bad. Anyone who got caught doing something so obvious at the real NORAD would most likely be fired outright, if not prosecuted for endangering national security.
Values Resonance: whilst pretty much averted with the nuclear issues (not as obviously relevant as in the Cold War, and to be fair the dangers of all-out nuclear war are so well-worn the relevant aesop is pretty much into Captain Obvious Aesop territory), the dangers presented by computer security threats are even more pertinent to the present than they were in The Eighties now that Everything Is Online, and talk of cyber-warfare abounds. It is obvious from the Values Dissonance example above that many of the basic security mistakes mentioned above are sadly still with us today, too. Whether the idea of the maverick hacker ultimately showing up the military's flaws is relevant in these days of certain high-profile whistleblowers has any resonance however, is uncertain.
Tropes found in War Games: The Dead Code include:
Anvilicious: Dr. Falken gives a little speech about how he designed the WOPR to work in tandem with RIPLEY rather than against her. The last word of his speech is "Bipartisanship". This in a movie that came out the same year Barack Obama was elected President.
Tropes found in the videogame adaptations include: