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I Know Mortal Kombat

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"I even got to the Bonus Stage with the diving penguin!"

"I can do this, Joe! I've seen Patton over a hundred times!"

This is a situation in which a character acquires a needed skill, not by ever actually learning that skill, but by playing a video game or watching a movie that simulated that skill.

Just as much of a Hand Wave as Suddenly Always Knew That, but has the additional benefit of the "Hey, I could do that!" for the audience, enhancing their experience.

Moral Guardians often take this trope way too seriously, begetting the concept of Murder Simulators. However, if it did work, you could learn medicine from Dr. Mario and cure people with nothing more than a high powered microscope and a bag of Skittles.

Now as far as the controls, basic sense of tactics, fundamental concepts, and (hopefully) physics are concerned, simulators can supplement real and semi-real (more hardware-based) training and experience. After all, that's what simulators are supposed to do in the first place. Also note the difference between video games designed to be fun, and simulator machines designed to accurately emulate an experience and be used in training.

See also Ascended Fanboy, Taught by Television, Falling into the Cockpit. When someone is noted to have picked up a skill through multiple viewings of specific media, that person has also Saw "Star Wars" Twenty-Seven Times. When someone who knows what they're doing for real fails at a video game version, then it's I Don't Know Mortal Kombat. When someone tries to use fighting game moves in real life (and fails horribly), it can lead to What the Fu Are You Doing?. There's a lot of room for Product Placement with this trope. For specific works that can teach topics (whether intentionally or not), see also Unconventional Learning Experience. Contrast But I Read a Book About It.


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  • NBC ran ads promoting their soccer coverage featuring Coach Lasso, an American football coach tapped to coach a top English soccer team. He claimed that while he was reading books and watching training films, the best way to learn soccer was to actually play the game. By that he meant playing FIFA. However, he was both a terrible coach and also terrible at FIFA.

    Anime & Manga 
  • In Battle Girls: Time Paradox, a high school girl named Hideyoshi is sent to Feudal Japan. She manages to prove her worth with her skill at staff-fighting. She was a fan of a show that involved staff-fighting.
  • Bokurano: Although not explicitly mentioned, unathletic gamer Yōsuke Kirie delivers the most awesome mecha-ass kicking we ever see, surpassing any other pilot's skill by several orders of magnitude. Only in the anime version though.
  • Btooom!: Seeing that the whole setting is a battle royale inspired by the "Btooom!!" online game, it's no surprise we see lots of characters who aced "Btooom!!" and then came to use their honed skills in the real-life version.
  • Code Geass: In one of the supplemental, sound episodes, Lelouch and Suzaku are attempting to leave Kururugi Jinja without Lelouch's guards. Suzaku's claims he can drive the car if Lelouch takes care of everything else. It is not until they are in the car that Lelouch discovers that Suzaku's "driving experience" comes from video games. Nevertheless, they succeed.
  • Chiaki in Danganronpa 3: The End of Hope's Peak High School knows some fighting techniques that she learned from playing beat 'em up games. She uses one from a Bland-Name Product version of Double Dragon 2 to protect Hiyoko from an aphrodisiac-influenced Teruteru.
  • In Dog Days, Rebecca's experience in playing Bullet Hell games somehow lets her dodge actual magic attacks.
  • Doraemon: Nobita's Great Adventure in the South Seas sees Suneo's skills in piloting toy RC planes and cars being used to control the turrets of an island-sized warship. Somehow, it works. Suneo actually lampshades that "moving from RC toys to a ship-destroying superweapon is a massive leap".
  • Girls und Panzer: Subverted by Team Anteater, the gaming club. They try their best, but video game skills turn out to just not be applicable to actual tank combat and all they manage to accomplish is blocking an early attempt to snipe the Ōarai flag tank by accident. By the time of Girls und Panzer der Film, they've actually practised their tank skills and become extremely good.
  • Great Teacher Onizuka: When Kikuchi and Kunio steal the vice-principal's Cresta, Kunio asks Kikuchi if he knows how to drive it. Kikuchi says that he aced Gran Turismo and should be fine. It turns out that he wrecks the car and drives the car off a pier by accident.note 
  • Gundam:
    • Used in Mobile Fighter G Gundam when Domon Kasshu and Allenby Beardsley play an arcade game that simulates the mecha tournament they are competing in down to the motion sensing cockpit system. The fight ends in a draw because the game computer was unable to keep up with their speed and blew up.
    • Also invoked in Victory Gundam as the protagonist Usso Ebbing is an Ace Pilot at 13 years of age. The kid grew up on MS simulators his parents engineered. Notably, his first time piloting an actual mobile suit, he fumbles somewhat with the controls and has a difficult time getting the suit under control, as the suit in question was a prototype Zanscare model and presumably somewhat different than the simulator had been built to model. Further, the series distinguishes being able to fly a mobile suit and being able to fight in a mobile suit. Usso may be a very competent pilot, but he has to painstakingly learn actual combat strategy throughout the series.
    • Mobile Suit Gundam AGE gives the same reason for why Kio Asuno is able to fly a Gundam at 13: his grandfather Flit got him an MS simulator disguised as a video game when he was very young.
  • Highschool of the Dead looks like it's going to end up with this, when Kohta starts talking about playing shooting games as a response to how he's such a crack shot... until he continues on with the fact that he's logged time at a Blackwater firing range, where he was briefly tutored by a Delta Force sniper. All of a sudden, his being able to headshot shambling zombies while sticking out the turret of a badly driven Humvee makes sense.
  • In IGPX: Immortal Grand Prix, Johnny, a fan of Takashi and Team Satomi, hopes to one day become an IG pilot. He uses an IGPX racing simulator at the local arcade to practice but has a hard time getting anything better than the lowest grade, CC. Takeshi points out how he used to play that game, and how they use slightly more advanced simulators to practice with for upcoming opponents, and gives Johnny some good pointers to improve his score.
  • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders: During the Sun sequence, the party decides the best way for the current leg of the journey is by crossing the desert, and Joseph decides they're going to use camels to do it, boasting that he knows all there is to know about riding them. Except... he can't get the first camel to cooperate at first. He finally admits to Polnareff that his "experience" was actually watching Lawrence of Arabia two or three times... even though he actually fell asleep partway through the later watchings!
  • Lucky Star:
    • Konata defeats a hulking Guile expy with moves straight from Street Fighter, complete with hovering life bars. She also wins footraces by visualizing herself as an athlete in Konami's Hyper Olympic (Track & Field on the NES) complete with the signature controller. To be fair, though, she is described as being quite athletic.
    • Konata also subverts this trope early on the show, saying that skills picked up from video games are generally useless in real life, specifically mentioning that rhythm games have nothing to do with actual sense of rhythm.
  • Macross:
    • Inverted in Super Dimension Fortress Macross, when Milia Fallyna discovers Maximillian Jenius' identity as the pilot who shot her down when she replays their last encounter on an arcade simulator using the exact same tactics. Earlier in the episode had the proprietor mourn the fact that he makes so little money on those games because he opened the arcade too close to the base, and the actual pilots keep kicking ass at them.
    • Macross Frontier subverts the trope: Alto is barely able to pilot a Valkyrie after Falling into the Cockpit due to some simulator training and years of aerobatic practice in his school club, but flails around a bunch and mostly survives due to others protecting him. It's only after going through an actual training regimen that he gets any good. Later, Sheryl Nome joins the same school club and goes through some Valkyrie simulator training, and due to extenuating circumstances ends up attempting to fly a real one in combat. She's confident in her skills on the simulator but gets (nonlethally) shot down in less than ten seconds.
  • Inverted in Matagi Hunter, in which a retired hunter finds that the skills he's honed hunting bears in the Japanese wilderness translates surprisingly well into FPS as he becomes a pro gamer.
  • In the third episode of Megazone 23, the Orange company develops the space fighter simulator Hard On in order to find talented mech pilots for a planned rebellion. The main character also develops his piloting skills with this game.
  • Negima! Magister Negi Magi: In a very early volume, Negi plays a videogame based on magical combat, and, though he loses, does extremely well for his first time playing. His students chalk it up to him being a genius, most of them not knowing that Negi is a real-life mage.
  • NG Knight Lamune & 40: Baba Lamune is identified as the hero Lamuness when he completes the King Squasher video game Milk brought from her world. While he didn't know it at the time, playing the game served as training for when he'd be in the cockpit of the real King Squasher robot. As expected, he is able to take to the controls immediately and has a decent idea of the mech's overall capabilities.
  • No Matter How I Look at It, It's You Guys' Fault I'm Not Popular! is built on subverting this trope. The awkward teenage protagonist often tries to apply techniques she learned from eroge titles in real life situations, only for them to fail every time. At one point she even laments how real-life social situations are nothing like the video games she plays.
  • Momonga from Overlord (2012) is the leader of a successful video game guild who finds himself transferred into the body of his character and into a real fantasy world, along with his NPC followers who develop real personalities and sapience. He is able to transfer his guildmaster experience to become a somewhat competent leader of a real faction, and to utilize his gamer strategies against his enemies (though he is far from flawless and the Non Player Characters, especially Demiurge, often prove smarter than him. Even though they don't realize that.
  • Overman King Gainer: Gainer Sanga takes this to its logical extreme. Already an Ascended Fanboy whose prowess at online games translates directly into proficiency at piloting the eponymous Humongous Mecha, one episode has him engaged in an online tournament and a real-life battle at the same time, having modified King Gainer to allow him to fight both battles simultaneously. When the dust clears and everybody realizes his impossible achievement, he is awarded the title of "King of the Dual Field".
  • Patlabor:
    • Inverted and subverted in one episode: Noa is an ace at piloting giant robots, but she totally bombs playing a robot-themed video game.
    • A similar joke happens in the beginning of the Fatal Fury movie, where we see that Terry Bogard isn't good at playing Fighting Games because he lives in one.
    • In a similar gag that comprised one of about three worthwhile scenes in the Martian Successor Nadesico Movie, ace mecha pilot Ryoko gets her ass kicked at a video game by her former wingwoman Hikaru, who had been retired for about three years, writing Magical Girl manga. To be fair, it was a 2D Fighting Game, just a mecha-themed one.
  • The first Persona 3: The Movie uses this trope. After the Priestess boss fight, the train the characters are on is hurtling towards another train on the track. The Protagonist Makoto Yuki runs into the control room and grabs a handle on the console, and Junpei asks if he knows what he's doing. Makoto replies "I saw how to do it earlier," and Junpei incredulously responds "Earlier? Dude, that was just a video game!" We actually see a brief scene of him playing said game earlier in the movie.
  • Pokémon: The Original Series subverts this. In the season one episode "The School of Hard Knocks", the heroes come across a Pokémon Academy where the students simulate battles on machines with displays suspiciously reminiscent of the video games the anime is derived from. The student the heroes were speaking to ends up voicing his belief that a battle with Misty would be a waste of time, as his Grass-type Pokémon always defeat Water-types in the simulations. Misty ends up battling with him anyway, and instantly beats him with absolutely no effort. And after the kid calls this out, the school's resident Alpha Bitch points out that even if a Pokémon is at a type disadvantage, it's still possible for them to win if they're strong enough. She then proceeds to defeat Misty's Starmie with a Graveler — a Rock-Ground type, and doubly weak against Water — but then makes the same mistake using a Cubone — a Ground type and immune to Electricity — against Pikachu, who beats it without using electricity at all.
  • A subtle, possibly inverted example in Puella Magi Madoka Magica. Kyouko is one of the toughest magical girls in the show, despite being stuck with a melee weapon (the only other melee-weapon protagonist doesn't last very long). She also gets a perfect score playing a DanceDanceRevolution knockoff while simultaneously discussing something important with Homura. It's unclear which came first, but you know what they say about dancing and fighting...
  • Sailor Moon: Inverted in the manga version, where Usagi gets better at the Sailor V video game as she gains experience as a Sailor Senshi. Artemis later reveals that he had been using the game to train the girls. This carries over from Codename: Sailor V, in which the trope was Invoked: Artemis created the Sailor V Game to train Minako after noticing her tendency to learn facts and other things from video games.
  • Saki:
    • Toyone Anetai of Miyamori Girls High School learned how to play mahjong from watching it being played on TV and arranging tiles as if she were a participant of the show she's watching. She becomes so good at mahjong through this method that a scout for professional players deems her good enough to participate in the national tournament alongside other players of her caliber.
    • Inverted with Nodoka Hanamura. While she's good enough to become inter-middle champion in mahjong, she's actually better at the game when playing online, where she gains a reputation as being virtually unbeatable. She had to learn how to get into her "online mode" while playing the actual game.
  • Shino from Seitokai Yakuindomo proves to be surprisingly good at judo... because she reads yaoi and thus knows how to pin someone down.
  • Starship Girl Yamamoto Yohko This is the premise. The titular Yohko is an avid video gamer who's apparently scouted and taken to the future to participate in space war games.
  • Sword Art Online does some serious discussion on this trope at a couple different points. Ultimately, the trope is subverted. Because VRMMORPGs have a player moving their avatar as they would their real body, skills learned in a game do carry over to the real world, to an extent. However, most games have a system assist for Rule of Fun, and the fitness level of a player's avatar and real body often differ, at least in the cases involved.
    • The two years of Sword Art Online give Kirigaya Kazuto (ID: Kirito) swordsmanship skills and enhanced reflexes. In a kendo sparring match with his sister Suguha (a national level competitor), he was able to dodge a blow that reportedly had never been successfully blocked by either her coaches or tournament opponents, but as he was fresh out of physical rehab, she was able to overpower him (and take advantage when he tried to use a Sword Skill, which involves holding a pose and waiting for the activation). Later, when Sugou attacks him with a knife, Kazuto takes a hit when Sugou manages to surprise him, but is able to fend off his attacks and disarm him. In this case, Kazuto's muscle atrophy is offset by Sugou suffering from phantom injuries sustained in-game with the pain inhibitor disabled, including a loss of depth perception.
    • When visiting Gun Gale Online in Season II, Kirito asks Sinon if, hypothetically, she could use her GGO skills on real world firearms. Sinon thinks about it a moment, and replies that while she obviously couldn't handle the gun's recoil (her in-game character being physically stronger than her real body), she could certainly load, prep, aim, and fire at least one shot from a wide variety of guns thanks to her online experience, as most of the live-ammo weapons in GGO are real-world firearms meticulously implemented by a group of real-world Gun Nuts.
    • Expanded upon by Sword Art Online Alternative: Gun Gale Online, where Sinon and Kirito's theory is put to test by some real-world military professionals who are experimenting to see if the game would work as a training simulator. They eventually come to the conclusion that, while the premise is sound, there are two major flaws: the system assists oversimplify certain elements (and certain workarounds that cause the system assists to not take effect are very bad habits in real-world situations), and players levelled in the right way can acquire unrealistic properties for which there are no real-world analogues (for example, the very small and childlike LLENN running down the highway at speeds relative to a vehicle, which causes the remaining members of the squad to immediately forfeit and disconnect because they're not dealing with a scenario that's even close to realistic at that point).
    • In Sword Art Online The Movie: Ordinal Scale, the augmented reality game requires use of a player's physical body. Kirito's real body isn't very fit and initially has trouble keeping up in battles, even tripping over his own feet in the first boss fight. It takes a Training Montage from Suguha to get him in better condition to compete.
  • Symphogear:
    • Genjuro can do absolutely insane things and while his training Hibiki is subjected to involves legitimate training techniques, it also features watching action movies and fighting games and trying to copy them. His own style is a mix of Bruce Lee's, Akuma's and Toph's movesets he learned this way.
    • His "legitimate training" isn't much better; the show features whole Training Montages of him having the rest of the team do exercises right out of Drunken Master and Rocky (down to the infamous raw egg drinking). They've learned a lot from his methods: Chris went from near-useless in melee to pulling some impressive Gun Kata after he gifted her a DVD copy of Equilibrium, and he made the Gears watch an "anti-tank movie" for the time they had to fight regular soldiers (and from what they got out of it, it's strongly implied that rather than the expected war flick, it was Hulk).
  • Veldora in That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime is an odd case where he didn't just learn techniques from manga, but the context behind them too. This actually serves him well, as learning to suppress his aura from the Dragon Ball series of all things allows him to practically make it disappear, when his mere presence is enough to either kill or repel most monsters and humans. He also learns the importance of concentrated strikes, tactics, and Mixed Martial Arts from Street Fighter, as opposed to the brute force approach he used in the past. The growth he got from them, from observing others like Hakurou and from gaining an Ultimate Skill increased his fighting prowess drastically, while shocking his sisters since they thought he could never grow at all.
  • Zonge from Toriko claims to have learned all his 'skills' from playing RPGs.
  • The World God Only Knows is centered around a student who possesses an incredible amount of skill at... dating simulators. Fortunate that the runaway spirits hide in the hearts of females, and are released when the hearts are "captured", right? At first, he doesn't think it will work, and when it turns out that it does, people mock his invocations.
  • Yo-kai Watch: Subverted in a Valentine's Day Episode. Hailey Anne trys to make Valentine's Day chocolates using recipes from her favorite manga. She's oblivious to how awful the recipes actually are.
  • YuYu Hakusho: Taking it to its logical endpoint: during the Chapter Black arc, one of Sensui's aides, the Gamemaster (Amanuma), an elementary school student, has the power to alter his territory into a copy of whatever video game he desires. This grants him any skill he needs from that game (for example, the incredible driving skill of a racing game's AI). He can also take on the role of any of the game's characters. Unfortunately, he takes on the role of 'Goblin King', who is fated to die when the game is won by the protagonists (who have been cast as the "Seven Heroes"); Sensui never told him that what happens to the characters happens to him. The heroes win.
  • Zegapain features a video game based on the control of the title mecha, used to both recruit pilots and train them in their time off.
  • Zoids inverts this, when actual Zoid pilots turn out to be fantastic at the video games that simulate the sport in which they participate.

    Comic Books 
  • Adventures of Gamepro: A gamer from Earth is brought to another dimension where video games are real, because only someone who knows how to win every game imaginable can save the day against villains taking over game after game.
  • Amulet: Navin convinces Emily to let him to pilot the Albatross due to his experience in playing flight simulation-type games. He turns out to be a pretty good pilot in general.
  • Batman: In the middle of a fight, Robin (Tim Drake), who has actually had a lot of training from the world's top martial artists, cheerfully chirps to Batman that he "learned this move from Tom Cruise!" just for laughs.
  • Carmen Sandiego: In the comics, detectives are recruited using the computer game.
  • Marvel Universe:
    • The Avengers: The villain named Taskmaster is capable of doing this, as this is his power. Due to "photographic reflexes", he can perfectly emulate any humanly possible physical action he's seen someone else perform, both in person and on video. He once used Gun Fu on a bunch of guys and claims he learned it from a Jet Li movie marathon he'd watched the previous night. He has even been known to watch kung-fu movies on fast-forward and temporarily use the styles he saw at the same increased speed. Unfortunately, it also erases an equal portion of memory from his brain to make space for the new technique, i.e., his name or knowing that he has a wife.
    • Avengers: The Initiative: War Machine assures Cloud 9 that shooting a gun in real life is "Like playing Halo".
    • Daredevil: Echo is much the same way, as she can mimic any physical feat she sees so long as it is humanly possible to replicate. She once easily went toe-to-toe with Daredevil after renting a bunch of old Hong Kong action films from her local video store.
    • Deadpool: Subverted in issue #27. He's already a competent martial artist. The obvious Shout-Out is just for laughs. "You smug little — Speaking of games. You ever play Street Fighter?"
    • In Ms. Marvel (2014), Kamala Khan claims that her hours playing video games have given her superior reflexes.
    • Nova: Sam Alexander chalked up an early victory against the Chitauri to all the hours he spent playing video games.
    • The Unbelievable Gwenpool: Gwen is able to defeat a Sentinel after she realizes that they use the same attack patterns as the ones in the arcade game. She also almost leads her team to victory against Deadpool by envisioning the situation in gaming terms... unfortunately, then she gives him the idea of a meta-off that they couldn't win.
  • Revolutionaries: Subverted. The Axalon crew were put through simulations of combat and brainwashed to think they were Autobots and Decepticons as part of a warped experiment by Shockwave. They fought with all the skill of real soldiers... as long as they were in the controlled, fatality-free war games Shockwave set up for them. When World War I came around, their false memories swiftly unraveled in the face of an actual war, leading to most of them dying. The narration explicitly notes no amount of make-believe warfare could prepare them for the real thing.
  • The Simpsons: In one issue, a clone of Smithers delivers a flying kick to Apu while boasting that he has seen all the Van Damme movies twice.
  • Superman:
    • In Adventures of Supergirl, Supergirl knocks Rampage down by using an uppercut move that she learned by playing an arcade game named Street Kombat Six.
      Supergirl: She's ready for every single one of my punches. She barely even flinches at most of them. But like I said, I never had to learn how to fight on Krypton. One of my first lessons at Midvale High, though...? Belinda-the-Bully's surprise uppercut. She'd always use it to beat me on Street Kombat Six. She'd score a T.K.O. every time. I loved that game.
    • In a storyline where Steel, Supergirl and Superboy shrank down to enter Superman's body and eliminate a Kryptonite cancer he'd been infected with, Steel advised Superboy to eliminate the tumors with a weapon as his video game experience made him better qualified for this task.

    Comic Strips 
  • Doonesbury: In one strip Jeff Redfern is undergoing CIA training in Afghanistan and accidentally launches a missile. However, it actually ends up demolishing an Al-Qaeda ammo dump. Jeff's superior wonders how this is possible, exclaiming "It's all those damn video games, isn't it?!"
  • In Madam & Eve, Mother Anderson considers herself an expert in law because she's watched every episode of L.A. Law, Law & Order, and Ally McBeal.

    Fan Works 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Triple-subverted in Back to the Future Part III: Marty tries out a 19th-century shooting range, the previous film having shown him play the light gun shooting game Wild Gunman. He seems to fail the first time, but only because he was reluctant to fire a real gun and the salesman prompted him to use his left hand, presumably to humiliate him. Angered, Marty takes a second try and hits five bullseyes in a row. Unfortunately, he learns that his video-game-refined skills won't help against an experienced gunslinger like Buford Tannen when the picture of Doc's tombstone changes showing "Clint Eastwood" instead. Marty eventually beats Tannen without using his gun by out-thinking and punching the crap out of him.
    Shooting Range Owner: Hey, just tell me one thing, where'd you learn to shoot like that?
    Marty: 7-Eleven.
  • Battlefield Earth has a group of tribal primitives learning to fly Harrier Jump Jets by spending a few hours in a simulator. The protagonist does even better, by mastering a simulator of the Psychlos' hover planes on his second attempt, and flying the vehicle flawlessly afterwards. It's implied that having his girlfriend's life threatened served as inducement, but Instant Expert does seem to be a characteristic of humans in this film.
  • Bulletproof Monk: Kar learns how to fight at 'The Golden Palace'. This turns out to be an old cinema where he lives and shows Kung Fu movies. We actually see him imitating the actors on screen. Despite this, he's actually pretty competent.
  • Chocolate: The entire premise is that the main character's autism allows her to perfectly imitate movements that she watches other people perform. She becomes a martial arts master after watching a whole lot of kung fu films.
  • Briefly discussed in The Color of Money. Aside from shooting pool, Vincent's hobby is playing "Stocker", a racing video game. He believes that mastering the game will give him the reflexes needed to join the Air Force as a fighter pilot.
  • D.A.R.Y.L.: The title character is an expert at all electronic games. This is partially because he has lightning-fast reflexes, but partially because he is also a cyborg and can hack directly into the video games. He eventually uses these abilities to hijack an SR-71 Blackbird.
  • Demolition Man has Leanna Huxley managing to knock down a criminal in hand-to-hand combat. Since she was raised in a pacifistic society where even eating red meat is a crime, Spartan asked where she learned to fight like that. She replied, "Jackie Chan movies."
  • Parodied in 2006 direct-to-DVD Canadian film A Dog's Breakfast when the main character attempts to pummel his sister's fiancé using skills he learned from a video game. He fails.
  • The Flight of the Phoenix (1965) has a variant of this trope. After a plane crashes in the desert, one of the survivors says that he is an airplane designer and can design a functional plane they can construct from the wreckage. It turns out, however, that the airplanes he designs are model airplanes flown by hobbyists; he's never designed one large enough to carry a person before.
  • Fool's Gold: When asked how he learned to fly the biplane they are riding in, Finn simply answers "PlayStation!".
  • Galaxy Quest: Tommy Webber is able to learn how to fly a starship by watching old episodes of himself flying a fictional starship. This is justified elegantly; the aliens that built this starship made it to exactly mirror the ship they were seeing in the same TV show that Webber acted in, and as a child actor he had worked out a consistent system for how to manipulate the prop controls based on what the fictional ship was supposed to be doing. As with many things in the movie, this is inspired by real-life Star Trek. Wil Wheaton decided what each individual button did on his console, George Takei reportedly did something similar, and Gates McFadden wanted to have consistent things to do with her character's medical tricorder, so the prop department gave the tricorder buttons logical functions and a how-to guide. (From these examples, we can discern that actors playing techie characters get bored easily.)
  • Busta Rhymes' character from Halloween: Resurrection beats up Michael Myers with martial arts learned from watching old kung-fu flicks.
  • Subverted in The Heat. Ashburn watches a video early in the movie describing how to perform an emergency tracheotomy. When a guy at a local Denny's starts choking she tries to apply what she's learned and nearly kills the guy. Turns out all he needed was a good hard whack to get the piece of pancake out. The EMT that takes the guy to the hospital chews her out for this.
  • This is the plot point of Russian movie Hooked (На игре), where a team of hardcore gamers have their gaming skills transcended into the real world, making them excellent marksmen and soldiers, fighters (this one also learned how to jump 2 meters or so high), drivers etc. Also deconstructed: while they now are able to genocide enemy troops, they remain childish, irresponsible, lacking an understanding of the meaning of death and value of life assholes at best, and become Drunk with Power at worst.
  • I Am Number Four: Sam shoots one of the Mogadorians with a gun he took from one of the dead ones, Sarah's surprised reaction is dismissed with "I play a lot of Halo."
  • Ichi the Killer: Ichi is crazed shut-in who murders people using the skills he learned from playing Fighting Games all day. In the manga, he actually does know karate.
  • The Kid Who Would Be King: One bit that was in all the trailers has Kaye (who is too young to have a driver's license) behind the wheel of a car, knocking undead minions out of the way.
    Bedders: Where did you learn how to drive?
    Kaye: Mario Kart.
  • Lara Croft: Tomb Raider – The Cradle of Life. Terry takes out the goons guarding Hillary and Bryce, then asks if either of them can fly the Big Bad's helicopter. To Hillary's surprise, Bryce can...but he's only had two hours of flying time and 150 hours playing flight simulation games.
  • The Last Mimzy has the boy able to drive a truck because of gaming experience (ignoring alien influence).
  • The Last Starfighter was based around this idea; aliens plant a spaceflight simulator disguised as an arcade game on Earth, and recruit the high-score winner to help them fight invaders. Made somewhat more realistic - and easier for the hero - by the fact that he's merely the ship's gunner and has someone else to do the actual flying for him.
  • Limitless: Eddie fends off some mooks using martial arts that he had subconsciously absorbed through watching Bruce Lee films with his new enhanced intelligence.
  • Malibu's Most Wanted has the following exchange after Jamie Kennedy's character B-rad shoots at a bunch of gang members:
    Tec: Hey, yo, that was ill. Hey, where'd you learn that from?
    B-rad: Grand Theft Auto III.
  • Mars Attacks!: This trope is one of the subplots. Throughout the movie, the two young boys of one family are seen playing video games at every single opportunity. Towards the end, they scavenge some Martian weapons and proceed to clean house with an efficacy that Earth's militaries only wish they had.
  • Spoofed in Men in Black II, in which the only way to control the Cool Car manually while in flight is with a PlayStation gamepad; Jay has no problems with it, but Kay, being a Cool Old Guy who was with the MiB since its founding in The '50s, well...
    Jay: Didn't your mother ever buy you a GameBoy?
  • My Schoolmate The Barbarian: Rock helps Edward defeat Tiger by telling him the button combos from a Fighting Game so he know what type of attack to use. It works quite well since Edward already knew how to fight but needed Stone's mentorship so he can use the right moves against Tiger
  • New Police Story: The robbers plan their crimes by reference to video games and recreating their set pieces.
  • The Other Guys: "Where did you learn to drive like that?" "Grand Theft Auto!"
  • Pixels: The arcaders are arcade gamers who are called to help during an alien invasion, because the aliens mimic classic arcade game characters like Pac-Man or Donkey Kong.
  • Ready Player One (2018): The late-teens (and token child) main characters spend most of the movie playing a virtual reality game that requires physical movement, which gives them genuine real-life martial arts skills against grown adults.
  • In The Recruit, Colin Farrell's character attributes his superior hand gun skills to PlayStation.
  • Run Ronnie Run: A fat kid who does nothing but play Dead or Alive all day fights off kidnappers using Wire Fu while the soundtrack lampshades the trope with lyrics including "Fat kid learned from a video game!"
  • Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: In the original comics, Scott's backstory shows why he's such a good brawler. The film hints at the trope by presenting the fights as if they were video games. In a more explicit example, we see that Scott & Knives are able to team up against Gideon quite well in the final battle is because of experience playing a DanceDanceRevolution Expy earlier on in the movie. The film even makes use of sound effects and on-screen prompts from that game to further drive the point home.
  • Subverted in Shaun of the Dead. Shaun is shown playing a zombie video game with Ed's help early in the film. Later, he grabs a rifle and teams up with Ed to shoot at zombies in the exact same manner... except he misses just about every shot.
  • SHAZAM! (2019): Eugene claims that he learned how to hack into federal databases after playing Watch_Dogs and Uplink to find the names of Billy's parents: Marilyn and C.C. Batson as well as where they live.
  • Snakes on a Plane: Near the end of the movie, the pilots end up getting killed by the snakes, and the crew needs to find someone who can land the plane. Troy mentions that he's logged many hours flying planes and landing them. The crew is understandably apprehensive when he reveals that his "experience" is based on a PlayStation flight sim. This is actually set up, because he's been playing on a PSP all flight. He manages to do just fine, because he is still better than nothing (Special Agent Flynn explicitly states to Flight Control that Troy is the only man on the plane with any relevant experience).
  • Species II: An alien hybrid clone being experimented on escapes from a government research laboratory, stealing a military humvee in the process. When asked how she learned how to drive, one of the scientists working on her explains that they allowed her access to television, and her favorite show is The Dukes of Hazzard.
  • Star Wars Tie-In Novel, Before the Awakening says that Ray has a Universal Driver's License in The Force Awakens due to practicing a piloting sim video game when sandstorms trap her at home for days at a time.
  • Taxi, a French action comedy (written by Luc Besson) comically subverts this: one of the two protagonists is a young policeman who is very good at playing driving video games, but always keeps failing the actual driving exams.
  • Time Cop also has a non-video game example. Max Walker (Jean-Claude Van Damme) is confronted by mooks, one of whom tries to intimidate him by saying, "I went ten rounds with John L. Sullivan himself." After fighting them and easily taking them out, Walker replies, "I saw Tyson beat Spinks on TV."
  • Toys, a Robin Williams movie, in which this trope is a central plot point. General Zevo realizes that children who play arcade games have remarkable hand-eye coordination and reflexes. To that end, he repurposes his brother's toy company into a military contractor, building unmanned planes and mini-tanks that can be controlled by children at a video console. Children who still think they're playing video gamesnote .
  • TRON: Flynn is an expert at all the games he programmed and played when he gets teleported into the computer world. Justified by the fact that he's basically a god when he's in the computer world. The Novelization further explains it by saying Flynn coded many of those games based on real-world sports he enjoyed.
    • Inverted with Sam in TRON: Legacy. While he is obviously a good gamer as a kid, as an adult he uses his real world skills of motorcycle riding, base jumping and capoeira to outfight many of the rogue programs.
    • Implied and/or downplayed in the Alternate Continuity sequel TRON 2.0. Jet's skills as a video game programmer and player certainly don't hurt when it comes to learning how to use the weaponry. However, the comics and in-game emails show that he was already fond of parkour, motorcycle racing, and other extreme sports. note 
  • In Turbulence 3: Heavy Metal, the pilots are dead (one of them is The Mole and deliberately shoots himself to prevent Craven from forcing him to land), and no one aboard knows how to fly (or land). Craven's Voice with an Internet Connection is a hacker named Nick, who explains that he's been playing flight simulators all his childhood and asks the FBI agent holding him to allow him to help Craven land the plane. He turns on a flight simulator and sets it to the same conditions as Craven's plane, while the FBI agent hacks into the nearby airport control tower, so Nick has access to radar. He manages to successfully guide the rock star to land the plane. His reward is to remain in handcuffs... so the attractive female FBI agent can reward him properly.
  • Wild Hogs: Subverted. The police in a small town the protagonists are visiting are revealed to be extremely incompetent and poorly trained as a result of the town never having much crime. One of them says "For arms training they just told us to play Doom."
  • The premise of Without a Clue is that "Sherlock Holmes" is actually a thick-headed, unreliable, washed-up actor named Reginald Kincaid, hired by Watson to cover up that fact that's he's the real brains of the operation. "Holmes" is more of a hindrance than a help for much of the movie, but during a final fencing match with the Big Bad, he's show to be quite skilled with a sword due to his many years of experience with stage combat as an actor. Of course, stage fencing bears very little resemblance to real fencing, but that just makes it funnier.
    Reginald Kincaid: I warn you, sir, I've killed as many as six men in a week. Eight if you count matinees.
  • xXx: Xander Cage (Vin Diesel) attributes his ability with a gun to having broken his leg and having spent an entire month playing First-Person Shooter video games. As one might expect from this type of logic, he doesn't know how to work a safety but has perfect aim. Later on, when a sniper has an incursion team pinned down and the character notices another weapon nearby, he announces in annoyance, "Dude, you've got a missile launcher! Stop thinking Prague Police and start thinking PlayStation! Blow shit up!"
  • Zombieland: Little Rock credits "violent video games" with teaching her to use firearms, although she is not a very good shot until Tallahassee gives her some tips.

  • The 1632 series has no small number of examples, as much of the knowledge needed to survive the seventeenth-century is of the sort only hobbyists would seek in the twentieth.
    • One of the most valuable resources to Grantville early on is its civil war reenactors, because the eighteenth-century weaponry they trained with is technologically superior to that of the seventeenth-century armies they are fighting, but within the abilities of seventeenth-century artisans to build.
    • In one short story, Eddie Cantrell comes up with blueprints for an ironclad based primarily on research he did as part of a historical wargame.
    • In another, Eddie maneuvers a would-be hoarder into giving up his extra firearms to the town arsenal using a social-engineering gambit from a Dungeons & Dragons campaign he'd been in.
    • In 1636: The Kremlin Games, one of the pastimes that Bernie Zeppi introduces to Russia is hex-based wargames. The Russian military promptly invokes the trope and adds a more sophisticated version — including fog of war, for example — to their officer training. Thus going full-circle — tabletop wargaming began as a tool for training officers (in Prussia).
  • Alan Alone: Invoked. The video games that Alan receives from his father were meant to prepare him for his plan to defeat the Z-Soldiers, even up to finding the secret area in his building to get the upgrade that combines Alan and Dede to fight the planes.
  • Animorphs:
    • Subverted. Marco insists on driving the truck because of his experience with a driving game, but he's awful at it.
      Jake: Do you hate trash cans? Is that it? Do you just HATE TRASH CANS?
    • Later played straight, when he manages to successfully steal a tank from a supply train. He's not so good at parking though...
      Jake: [frowns] So, where did you leave the tank?
      Marco: The tank. Well, you know Chapman's house? Nice two-story?
      Jake: [sighs] How many stories is it now?
      Marco: Uh... [glances at Tobias] Zero? But the back deck will give Chapman a nice supply of firewood this winter. It's already piled up for him.
      Tobias: [smiles] Too bad he doesn't have a fireplace anymore.
  • Invoked in Artemis Fowl: The Lost Colony, when Foaly bases a remote gunning system on video game controls to improve accuracy.
  • Deliberately invoked in Competitors, where spaceship controls are dumbed down to the point where anyone who has ever driven a car (or seen one driven) can fly a ship (it's basically a flight stick and gas/brake pedals, with simple touchscreen controls for other functions). It's later explained that the controls are more like an indicator of what the pilot wants to do. The ship's computer interprets it and does the hard parts on its own. This is done to allow the aliens to fill the Platform with ordinary humans without NASA training.
  • Melodía of The Dinosaur Lords knows how to snap people out of mind control because when she was younger, she would read tons of epics and fantasy romances where mind control is a common occurence.
  • Veggie of Each Little Universe is pretty sure this is how the world works. His plan for pulling off an actual, real-life heist is to spend a few hours training by playing stealth games and working through a heist campaign in a Dungeons & Dragons style RPG. He might not be wrong; given that anyone with a little bit of Star Power becomes a low-level Reality Warper, there's probably a degree of truth to the idea, certainly if the person believes it'll work. TM is shown early on to know a few wrestling moves on account of having watched a lot of wrestling, while Veggie introduces himself to Ziggy as a 'two-time regional Guitar Hero champion' and at one point proves that he can in fact play the actual guitar. It's not explicit whether he's good at Guitar Hero because of knowing real guitar, vice versa, or whether the two are unrelated.
  • In, the boys decide that they're totally equipped with the knowledge to use their downloaded super powers properly because they read comic books.
  • The History of the Galaxy series:
    • A case similar to The Last Starfighter occurs in The Thirteenth Batallion novel. The Earth Alliance sets up mech simulation booths as an MMO game. They monitor the players' progress and tactics and then abduct the best to serve on the front lines as the pilots of Real Mecha. Their commander even states that they're already better than war vets, who are stuck in their ways. Innovation and improvisation is the key to victory. This proves true during their battle, when they come up with unorthodox and unexpected tactics that would've led to victory, if their admiral didn't plan to sacrifice them all along to further his own career.
    • In another story, a passenger liner is about to be attacked by a pirate cruiser known to leave no survivors. The ship is carrying a wing of fighters, but there are no trained combat pilots to fly them. Then the captain realizes they do have experienced pilots - VR gamers, who spend the flight participating in realistic simulations of space fights. So, when the players log in again, they're stunned and put in real fighters in order to fight off the cruiser. They succeed, although not all of them make it, and it's shown to be a very different experience, considering they know their very lives are at risk.
  • In Hobgoblin the teenage hero managed to defeat the serial killer Fergus in a medieval style duel thanks to his experience with the titular RPG.
  • The Murderbot Diaries has a Running Gag of the title character—a cyborg who's a compulsive viewer of entertainment videos—filling the gaps in the Company's lacklustre combat programming with tactics and techniques it remembers from media serials. Justified since Murderbot has the superhuman speed, reflexes, and analytical capability to compensate for the unrealistic portrayals.
  • In a pre-gaming example, the protagonist of On Stranger Tides manages to disarm a pirate using a sword-fighting move his opponent had never encountered before. Said move was something he'd learned as a novice puppeteer, because his father'd insisted that their marionette show's dueling scenes be as accurate as possible.
  • Invoked in the Paladin of Shadows book Unto the Breach, where Urban Warfare scenarios are simulated with the help of Unreal.
  • The protagonists of The Princes of the Air can't afford real flight training, so they learn to fly spacecraft by playing simulator games. They don't rely on the games alone, though; it's mentioned that they read up on what the games have left out and make a point when playing of practicing all the things that would be necessary in a real ship regardless of whether the simulation includes them.
  • In Skippy Dies, Skippy, a scrawny nerd, has to fight Carl, a tough and psychopathic bully. Skippy visualizes the attacks from his favorite video game Hopeland, which allow him to win the fistfight.
  • The Ship Who... Won: In his LARP, Keff uses an epee-shaped prop to fight holographic enemies. At the climax of The Ship Who Won he takes up a three-foot drill bit with which to fend off much more real foes. LARP experience has at least taught him how to stand and move with an item of a similar size and weight and given him appropriate reflexes. That his enemies are if anything even less trained in actual physical combat presumably makes up for the difficulty of hitting opponents who actually have mass - regardless, he doesn't skewer anyone but does successfully keep them from what he needed to defend.
  • In Solar Defenders: The Role of a Shield, Josh becomes adept with his powers surprisingly quickly because he's a big fan of the Solar Defenders TV show and has analyzed the heroes' moves in-depth.
  • This Book Is Full of Spiders: Seriously, Dude, Don't Touch It: Defied. The zombie enthusiasts arm themselves and go out zombie hunting, believing that their years of watching zombie movies and playing zombie video games have made them Genre Savvy and given them practical knowledge. In reality, they have absolutely no idea how to handle firearms or defend themselves. Amy tries to point this out to them, but they ignore her.
  • Undying Mercenaries: James was one of the top players in an MMO based on the Earth mercenary corp when his college funding dried up and he had to join one of those mercenary companies for real. In training, his gunnery stats are noted to be high for a rookie, but James isn't sure the game had much to do with it; he might just be a natural. It's also implied that the game is deliberate propaganda to encourage young people to join the mercenaries (as they are Earth's only export to the rest of the galaxy), in which case they would have reason to make it as close to real life as possible.

    Live-Action TV 
  • This is the entire premise of the short-lived Disney series Aaron Stone: a billionaire scientist wants to stop a Nebulous Evil Organization headed by brilliant scientist and with vast resources. What does he do? Create an MMO with them as the villians, and recruit the world's best player, an Ordinary Highschool Student, equipping him with real-life versions of all the advanced weapons and technology he had in the game, and send him to save the world; and they keep using it too. Whenever "Aaron" can't figure out how to beat the Villain of the Week, they add it to the game and come up with a strategy or weapon based off of that. One wonders what he would've done if the world champ was overweight, or physically disabled, or ten...
  • On Alphas Kat has the ability to acquire any skill if she watches it performed enough times. He usual training regimen is to watch multiple TV screens portraying different aspects of the skill. When she is learning martial arts, she watches a martial arts training video, a medical lecture on anatomy and a Kung Fu movie at the same time. She uses all of this to create her own highly effective fighting style and in her first fight takes down Bill who is a trained FBI agent with Super-Strength.
  • Arrested Development:
    • Buster is (barely) able to operate a real crane after obsessively playing a crane game.
    • In the Netflix series, Buster rejoins the Army and becomes a drone pilot, due to his video game experience. And, much like in the Toys example, he doesn't realize it's real until another member of his team tells him so.
  • Invoked, exploited and reconstructed in Battlestar Galactica (2003): The La Résistance on Caprica was mostly made-up of sports athletes with no military training. So, they relied on tactics they've seen in old war movies to attack Cylons. Their success rate is hit-and-miss, but they do manage to stay alive on Cylon-infested Caprica for a good few months and be a thorn on the Cylons' side as they do so. They are also sober enough to recognise that the stuff they learned from films isn't going to carry them indefinitely and request some training when they meet members of an actual military.
  • An interesting partly-justified variation on this trope from Buffy the Vampire Slayer - in one episode, a spell causes characters to literally become their Halloween costumes. Xander dresses up as a soldier in that one. For the rest of the series, he retains skills and knowledge from temporarily being turned into a soldier, right down to having knowledge of the specific layout and procedures at the local Sunnydale army base.
  • Chuck:
    • This is how Chuck handles Falling into the Cockpit in "Chuck vs. the Helicopter": according to Sarah, the helicopter controls in a video game that Chuck has played were based on the real thing.
    • It's also used a punchline when Devon witnesses Chuck's precision shooting in "Chuck vs. Operation Awesome". He asks if Chuck's skill comes from his training as a spy. The response? "No, Duck Hunt."
    • In "Chuck vs. Angel de La Muerte" Chuck claims to have learned how to treat gunshot wounds by playing the board game Operation. This, like the Duck Hunt example above, is actually a subversion, since the audience knows all along that the skills come from the Intersect.
    • Subverted when Casey tries to train Morgan to be a spy. Morgan is initially good when it comes to identifying guns because of all the First-Person Shooters he's played, but has trouble actually firing the gun.
  • Cobra: Subverted in an episode where a young man with no Real Life driving experience is confident he can handle the protagonist's car because it's the same model as the virtual car he uses in his favorite Driving Game; it turns out to be rather more complicated in real life.
  • Inverted on Community, where oneshot student Lukka is great at Troy and Abed's combat video game... because he used to commit war crimes during the ethnic cleansing in the Balkans.
  • Denji Sentai Megaranger: A fighting game was used to find candidates to turn into the Megarangers. The appearance of the Megarangers is the same as the characters in said game.
  • Doctor Who:
    • "The Age of Steel": When asked how he knows how to fly a zeppelin, Mickey answers "PlayStation".
    • "The Ghost Monument" subverts it: Ryan tries to justify taking the SniperBots on with one of their guns through his playing Call of Duty. Both Hilarity and Surprisingly Realistic Outcome occurs, as the robots get right back up after he shoots them, and his gun runs out of juice. It would have been played straight if the gun was capable of keeping them down, since until they got up he was cutting through them like butter.
    • "The Tsuranga Conundrum": Graham claims he knows how to properly assist with childbirth because he's seen every episode of Call the Midwife. It's later subverted, however, when he mentions to Ryan that he always looked away during the gross bits.
  • Drake & Josh: Didn't exactly work in an episode when the two are stranded in a helicopter without the pilot:
    Drake: I'm gonna fly this helicopter! You've seen me play Helicopter Rescue!
    Josh: What?! That's a videogame!
    Drake: So? If I can land a military helicopter on the Empire State Building, rescue the princess, while a giant lobster is shooting rockets at me, I think I can land this thing on a freeway, alright?
  • Beautifully subverted as the key plot point to Future Man. Aimless janitor Josh has conquered a hit video game only to be met by far-future warriors Tiger and Wolfe. They explain the game was created as a special training program to find "the perfect warrior" to combat the evil robots who have nearly conquered humanity in the future. The pair explain how they believed anyone who could win that game means the have the skills to be a terrific soldier, just as it is in their time. A stunned Josh has to break it to them that in the early 21st century, no one who plays video games actually has the attributes of a super-solider.
    Tiger: Aren't people who play videogames supposed to embody the skills of their online personas?
    Josh: No! No, it's the complete opposite! Why would anyone play videogames if they could just do a bunch of cool shit in real life?
  • Heroes: This is pretty much Monica's power: she can do anything she's seen on TV or in real life.
  • Kamen Rider Ex-Aid has this as the setup. A doctor known to be very good at video games is recruited (reluctantly) by his hospital to become a Kamen Rider that beats sentient gaming viruses out of patients with video game-themed gadgets and weaponry. His gaming knowledge put him ahead of his colleagues.
  • Last Man Standing (2011) episode "The Big Lebaxter" has Mike needing an extra player for his church bowling team. Jen boasts that she is an expert bowler. When they go to the bowling alley, she is astonished with how long the lane is and how heavy the balls are, admitting that she has only played virtual bowling games.
  • On an episode of Leverage, Hardison (who is impersonating an air traffic controller) manages to guide a passenger jet into a landing using a flight simulator (and not the kind used to train pilots, either).
  • Life On Mars: When asked if he can fire a gun with accuracy, Sam Tyler responds, "You should see my PlayStation scores."
  • In Limitless The Fantastic Drug NZT gives Brian perfect recall and Awesome by Analysis. However, Brian is a musician who worked as an office temp and thus has very little personal experience that translates into police work. He did watch a lot of movies and play a lot of video games but trying to invoke this trope usually results in failure. When he tries to take down a suspect using martial art techniques he learned from movies, he ends up getting punched in the face and is knocked out. When he is trained in real martial arts techniques, he realizes that he has to first unlearn everything he saw in movies. When he is tasked with hacking a computer system, he lampshades the fact that movies and video games do not portray hacking realistically and asks for a tutorial from a real computer expert.
  • In the late The '80s, The Mary Whitehouse Experience ran a sketch predicting that the next generation of RAF pilots would not be the classic craggy-jawed Biggles type. The Royal Air Force of the future would recruit the sort of spotty, nerdy, kid with glasses who would be very good at computer games and simulations of air fighting - who would then go on to win the next Battle of Britain. Cue David Baddiel playing a spotty, glasses-wearing nerd in the cockpit of a modern jet fighter, wiping out the opposition while still looking nerdy.
  • Mind of Mencia: Lampshades this in one episode, with Carlos talking about how after seeing a kung-fu movie, every guy walking out of the theater is eyeing up everybody walking out, hoping that they jump him so that he can use what he just saw in the movie.
  • Mystery Science Theater 3000 plays with this. In the beginning of This Island Earth, a plane suffers a control failure. During the first intermission, Mike describes how he would have handled the situation, claiming he qualifies as a pilot because he's "fully instrument rated for Microsoft Flight Simulator." The bots then challenge him to fly the Satellite of Love. Mike is reluctant, because the satellite handles nothing like a plane, but the robots make fun of him until he accepts. He manages less than 5 seconds of flight before plowing into the Hubble Telescope.
  • MythBusters: Played with. During an aeronautics centered episode Adam and Jamie went to the NASA flight simulator facility to try to land a passenger jet without any prior experience (real-life or virtual.) They failed miserably. Then they repeated their attempts but this time they were guided via radio by an experienced pilot and air traffic controller- they both succeeded to land the simulated jets manually. The pilot then proceeded to turn a couple knobs on the autopilot and explained that is all it takes for the plane to pretty much land itself. In case both the pilot and copilot are incapacitated (something which never happened in the history of aviation) air control would just get a stewardess on the radio and tell her which numbers to punch into the autopilot for the plane to land safely at the nearest airport. Nobody sane would hand over the lives of every passenger on an airplane to computers without human supervision on a regular basis (and it's rightly presumed that a failure of the computer system is more likely than losing both pilots), but that doesn't mean they aren't capable of pretty much everything a pilot would normally do.
    • In a later episode, the guys tried to learn how to play golf. Adam spent a day at Pebble Beach with a professional instructor, Jamie spent a day at M5 with a copy of "John Daly's ProStroke". Adam improved his control score by 10 strokes, Jamie's score only improved by 2 strokes. After video analysis of their swings (something the video game didn't help Jamie with at all), the trope was ruled Busted.
  • NCIS: Justified in S7 Episode 9, "Child's Play", which focuses on child prodigies using video games, one of which is Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2, in which they compare the situations in the game to real life military situations and analyze them.
  • The Office (US): In a non-video game example, in the Sting episode, Michael thinks he can ride a bike because of his Spinning class experiences. The effect of lack of any balancing requirements in Spinning classes becomes very obvious when Michael tries to ride a regular (as opposed to stationary) bike.
  • Penn & Teller: Bullshit! S7 Episode 3 deconstructed this trope as used by the Moral Guardians. To counter the claim that violent games desensitize children to violence and that realistic games teach children how to use weapons, they test it by giving a nine-year-old boy who plays violent games very frequently an AR-15 at a shooting range. He holds the gun incorrectly, presumably misses, and finds the experience so upsetting that he cries in the parking lot, prompting the hosts to apologize in the narration for even putting him up to it.
  • The Peripheral (2022): This is apparently why Flynn is so badass while piloting the android peripheral of herself. She's a beast at virtual reality simulations, even better than her Super-Soldier brother, and she's just about as bad-ass as him when they're both in peripherals even though she has no real-world combat training.
  • Power Rangers: Dino Thunder: The "Return of the Ranger" DVD special states that Ethan's video game skills are what make him the perfect candidate to pilot a zord.
  • The Pretender's main protagonist has been known to do this several times. In fact, nearly every profession he learns is from something only slightly related.
  • Psych: In the episode Romeo and Juliet and Juliet, Shawn attempts to invoke this trope by telling his opponent, someone with years of experience in martial arts, that he's "made it through all seven levels of Shaq Fu on Nintendo!" It doesn't work.
  • Run For Money: Tousouchuu: Game Show Example. In Episode 32, Daikichi said he had cleared every stage in the handheld version before going into the actual game. When he spotted a hunter from far distance, he said that the road he just passed was safe as hunter as hunter (in video game) will likely make a U-turn shortly, thus not safe to walking on that sector and turned back. However, there was a second hunter also patrolling nearby, he was being spotted and chased by that hunter instead, which ensured his elimination from the game. The narration immediately follows after his main-game elimination with such words: The reality cannot be walked-through just like what the game did.
  • Seinfeld: The episode where George tries to get a Frogger arcade cabinet across a busy street. (Complete with overhead camera and sound effects). But he fails to consider that unlike a frog, the cabinet can't jump, and so the curb at the other end of the street seals the cabinet's fate.
  • Stargate Universe:
    • The whole reason Eli Wallace was hired. He's that good at Mortal Kombat (or, the Stargate MMO anyway). Justified, as the MMO had been inputted with legitimate Ancient text as well as a math proof in the language.
    And screw The Last Starfighter, because all those hours playing Halo didn't prepare me for this!
    • Exaggerated for parody when Eli is carrying a wounded Chloe around the ship.
      Eli: This is nothing—I once hiked all through the Redridge Mountains with a full pack!
      Chloe: Where's that?
      Eli:World of Warcraft.
  • On Stargate Atlantis, Rodney McKay has a pessimistic view on this (as he always does): when asked to help with asteroid-shooting duty, he asks if this is like Asteroids, when he's told yes, he replies that he's terrible at Asteroids, and scored a zero once.
  • Top Gear (UK): In one edition Jeremy Clarkson drove an Acura NSX around Laguna Seca, a track he had done hundreds of times on the PlayStation, and found it considerably more difficult in real life. Partly because he couldn't take the same risks when failure would mean time in hospital instead of restarting, of course.
  • WCG Ultimate Gamer: Inversion. Surely nobody, gamer or non-gamer, is under any illusions that the skills necessary to play Guitar Hero and those necessary to play an actual guitar are even related. Still, a reality show that forces gamers to actually play real instruments had some people complaining, "What's that got to do with playing Guitar Hero?"
  • Weird Science had an episode with Wyatt and Lisa pretending to be brain surgeons who perform an operation on Gary and Wyatt's principal. Afterwards, Wyatt says that he didn't know Lisa knew how to perform brain surgery, and Lisa says she didn't, but that she saw it performed on last night's ER.
  • Who Wants to Be a Superhero?: Feedback has this as his superpower; he's able to obtain the skills of any game he plays... well, the character anyway.

  • Gorillaz: If the Commentary Edition of the "Stylo" video is to be believed, Murdoc never took any driving lessons, which explains his Drives Like Crazy tendencies. He claims to have picked up driving from Mario Kart.
  • Deconstructed in the MC Lars song "Guitar Hero Hero" which bluntly states that succeeding at a Video Game version of something or seeing it on television doesn't mean you are qualified to do the same thing in reality.
    Beating Call of Duty doesn't mean your aim is good,
    Beating Wii Golf doesn't make you Tiger Woods,
    Beating Apples to Apples doesn't make you a farmer,
    Watching UFC won't make you any harder!
    Friends on Myspace won't make you a musician,
    Beating Operation doesn't make you a physician,
    Watching CSI doesn't make you a detective,
    Playing Mario Paint doesn't mean you have perspective!
    Beating Gears of War doesn't make you Winston Churchill,
    Quoting 90s sitcoms won't make you Steve Urkel,
    Grand Theft Auto doesn't make you a player,
    Playing SimCity doesn't make you a mayor!
    Beating Rock Band doesn't mean you rock,
    Beating Tony Hawk doesn't make you Tony Hawk,
    American Idol won't make you a star,
    Beating Guitar Hero doesn't mean you play guitar!

  • Black Jack Justice: In "Death and Taxes", Jack brings Freddy the Finger along on a job that involves staying the night in a deserted and potentially haunted house. Freddy tells Trixie that he is a student of the occult by virtue of having seen every Abbott and Costello movie, and Abbott and Costello Meet the Mummy three times. He even compares one of the odd noises to the sound heard in one movie before Boris Karloff jumped out at Bud & Lou.
  • Fittingly, the Mortal Kombat episode of Plumbing the Death Star is based around how Johnny Cage's experience with fight scenes should not translate to experience with actual fights, leaving the cast of the show to figure out a scenario where such Johnny could kill undead ninjas, lightning gods and demon sorcerers.

    Print Media 
  • The video game magazine ACE Magazine, in issue 5 (February 1988), had a sidebar on page 71 with the title "Could a flight sim save your life?" (As in, could an expert player of flight simulators manage to fly a passenger airplane to the nearest airport and land?) Their conclusion is "no."
  • The Polish magazine Top Secret had a similar article in issue 7 (Oct/Nov 1991). Most of it is a Long List of all the vital things involved in flying a civilian plane that a military flight sim won't teach you.

    Pro Wrestling 
  • Played for laughs on an episode of WWF TV in the mid-90's, when Goldust prepared for a match against Japanese wrestler, Hakushi, by watching a Bruce Lee movie and imitating the moves.

    Tabletop Games 
  • In Adventure!, the Heroic Knack "Instant Expert" is actually not that trope, but this one instead. It allows a character to duplicate any physical task he or she has seen done... but only once per game session.
  • BattleTech has the Arcade Rangers unit, whose schtick revolves around this; they played the MechWarrior simulator games so much at their local arcades that they ended up getting years of training in working together as a team and coming up with tactics to surprise enemies. Interestingly, it's noted that their actual reflexes are average at best; they respond to surprises better than most, but being comprised largely of dropout college students, the Rangers haven't undergone the strenuous physical training most academies require. They eventually shape up, however, and become respectable pilots in their own right.
  • Car Wars: A common piece of advice to new players was to never attack a station wagon. Said cars normally had several kids with years of video game experience manning the guns.
  • Super Awesome Action Heroes, an action movie-based RPG. The Haxor class gets a bonus to their guns stat, thanks to all those First-Person Shooters they play.
  • Transhuman Space: Martial Arts 2100 includes mention of a computer program that can analyse video recordings of combat, reverse-engineer the combat style being used, and generate a training system to teach that style. This has been used to resurrect some defunct martial arts systems of which recordings exist. The software has also been fed some fictional martial arts scenes, but with limited success; it tends to generate "artistic" combat sytems that look fancy but are little use in a real fight.

    Video Games 
  • Command & Conquer: In the fluff for the first game, both GDI and NOD have been monitoring online strategy games for command talent, and picked you. You're supposed to be sitting at a computer remotely guiding your forces.
  • Death Road to Canada has a few random events that involve playing video games to increase your stats.
    • The GameBronus Entertainment System event allows a free increase in medical, mechanical or shooting, but their frustrating difficulty will cause whoever is using it to get angry and destroy the console, resulting in a morale drop.
    • The arcade locations during Always Be Looting events have an arcade game that allows you to raise your shooting stat.
    Like all video games ever made, playing it increases your skills with guns. The critics were right.

  • Subverted in the Metal Gear games, especially Sons of Liberty. Soldiers are trained with VR simulations, but they aren't "soldiers" until they have combat experience. Raiden is an aversion: he had previous combat experience as a child. The Genome soldiers and PMCs... well, they're proof enough the system doesn't really work, since lone soldiers with actual field experience are repeatedly able to outwit if not just mow through them.
  • Played for Laughs within a game of Mortal Kombat itself. Namely, the addition of Mokap, a motion capture artist, in Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance.
  • MVP Baseball series. A licensing agreement with the Major League Baseball Players' Association prevented non-union members from appearing in the game, leaving several spots to be filled by fictional, yet similar, players. Of these non-union members the most notable was Barry Bonds, a Hall of Fame-caliber slugger. He was replaced by the fictional Jon Dowd. EA Sports released an online article "explaining" Dowd's origin. In the article, Dowd made the Giants roster from an open tryout using skills he learned from playing previous installments of MVP Baseball.
  • Gemma in Ninja Pizza Girl apparently told her dad that she'd "studied ninjitsu" so that he'd let her make deliveries to the rougher neighbourhoods. When she actually runs into some enemies, she admits to Tristan that what she meant was that she'd googled it. She still turns out to be pretty efficient in a fight.
  • In Overwatch, D.Va is a former professional gamer whose expertise with the game gives her the reflexes needed to expertly pilot a Mini-Mecha. In fact, she's part of a South Korean military unit made up entirely of ex-gamer mecha pilots, which was scrambled together to defend their homeland from a colossal robot monster after they discovered it was capable of disabling remotely-controlled drones.
  • Persona:
    • Persona 4: Chie Satonaka imitates what she watches in kung-fu movies to fight.
    • In Persona 5, the protagonist can play old retro games in order to increase his social stats, though that has no effect on his fighting ability. He can also learn gun-related skills by hanging out with Shinya Oda, a kid in an arcade who is a master at light gun games. Despite the protagonist's impossibly-good skill with firearms when dungeon crawling, he's shown to be incredibly incompetent with the game. It should be noted that this is justified in game by saying that the dungeon crawling all takes place in a world of cognition. Thus, by legitimately believing that his game skills can transfer over to real life the Metaverse takes care of the rest, just like how believing that the toy weapons he uses can actually hurt his enemies allows them to inflict real damage.
  • Sam from Sunset Overdrive claims to have played hundreds of hours of "Choo Choo Simulator" when your character suggests stealing a train to escape from the Crown Blades Factory. And he actually ends up successfully driving the train to safety, killing several enemies in the process.
  • Street Fighter IV: Justified with the game's new character, Rufus: he studied Kung Fu movies for years, then went on a training tour in China to determine what could and couldn't be done.
  • Super Robot Wars: Original Generation: Played with; Ryusei is able to pilot a Humongous Mecha the first time he gets in the cockpit, due to being the tournament champion at a video game based on the mecha, but it's only because that specific mecha was altered to use the video game's controls. When he's finally put behind the controls of an actual mecha, his initial performances are less than stellar (even though his stats are actually pretty good). Ryusei is also one of the SRW universe's version of Newtypes, a Psycodriver, so it doesn't take long for him to get legitimately good.
    • Ryusei's rival, Tenzan Nakajima, played the same simulators and continues to treat everything like one big game once he gets a chance to pilot a real mech. The heroes constantly call him out on this attitude while Ryusei grows out of it. When Tenzan dies, he's trying to press the reset button and claims that level grinding will let him rule the world.note 
    • To a lesser extent, Ryoto Hikawa is also one of these, who was also in the tournament.
  • In Threads of Fate, one of the members of the Terrible Trio in has the ability to perfectly imitate the abilities of characters he reads about. Taken to ridiculous lengths when he fights you while imitating a star.
  • Malcolm's appearance in Unreal Tournament III is justified by way of this trope. Technically, he's only a civilian who happens to be really good at leading teams to victory in blood sports rather than a trained soldier and officer - but with both sides in the current war bringing respawner technology from the Tournament to the battlefield, there's not much difference anymore, so the Izanagi corporation hires him to run special operations for them.
  • Virtual-ON: The entire plot of the first game, in an even more Meta sense: The first half of the game is the test, while the second half is supposed to be the player (yes, YOU) controlling a Humongous Mecha on the moon hundreds of years into the future from the comfort of the arcade machine.
  • Wing Commander has a simulator in the mess. On which the player can try a consequence-less training mission working much the same way as "real" ones, except the specific craft.
  • Parodied in Leisure Suit Larry 5: Passionate Patti Does a Little Undercover Work, where Larry steps up to the task of piloting a plane based on his experience with selling flying games after the pilots learn that a union dispute has broken out and join in on the strike while the plane they're flying is still in the air. He (and the player) proceeds to blindly fumble around with the controls until he purely by chance turns on the autopilot.
  • In Yandere Simulator, this is the Gaming Club's Club Benefit. They allow access to video games, which can provide temporary stat boosts. The stat boosted depends on the game played, so playing a fighting game will boost your Strength.

    Visual Novels 
  • The protagonist of Double Homework knows how to shoot a gun at a carnival game such that he wins a prize. He got this skill from player first-person shooter games.
  • Muv-Luv Unlimited has the protagonist being The Load at everything except at piloting mecha... due to all the time he spent playing Valgern-On. Not only does he not suffer from any motion sickness like everyone else does at first, within his first few training sessions he's making the mecha perform maneuvers even their designers didn't think were possible, instantly becoming the single best pilot on the team.
    • In Muv-Luv Alternative, he gets used to the controls and proposes the idea to doing combos and cancelling them out to get out of danger, which was implemented in the game. The end results in a new OS that becomes very useful later on, particularly allowing all but one among the 207th unit surviving the unforeseen 12/5 Incident and the purchasing of the XB-70s from the US.

    Web Animation 


    Web Original 
  •'s Robert Hamburger "has a black belt in Street Fighter II and a second degree black belt in Mortal Kombat 1-3."

    Web Videos 
  • In Alicorn and Aestrix's Incandescence, Demon-Cam makes a spaceship that has a video-game controller.
  • In Freeman's Mind:
    Freeman: Man, good thing I've watched Die Hard like, fifty times. Otherwise, I wouldn't know anything about guns.
  • In Kickassia, Linkara claims he is qualified to lead a rebellion against The Nostalgia Critic because he's seen the movie Patton a hundred times. Once he's given a chance, it works. Then he and everyone else try to take Kickassia for themselves.
  • lonelygirl15: In the episode "Mission Gamma", Spencer decides that the best way to teach Taylor to navigate mazes is to have her play Pac-Man. It works.
  • The Spoony Experiment: "I am Lord of Tekken and I will air-juggle his ass!"
  • Attempted invocation in Stuart Ashen's Gamestation review. The product he's trying to review is unfortunately enclosed in one of those nigh-indestructible clamshell cases. He tries to channel his Half-Life 2 experience and use a crowbar to hack open the packaging, but this trope is subverted when it doesn't work. ("For God's sake, doesn't anything in video games work in real life?") Double-subverted when he tries "the Doom method" and uses a chainsaw to successfully crack the package open.
  • In Act I of the Stupid Mario Brothers movie, Ash got the Mario Bros. and Peach out of prison by playing Ace Attorney for over 100 hours (as he finished playing Pokémon Platinum early).
  • In Ten Little Roosters, Miles' Wrong Genre Savvy way of thinking makes him believe that beating The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim and getting all the Chaos Emeralds in Sonic the Hedgehog 2 makes him be able to survive a night with a killer.
  • In Vaguely Recalling JoJo, Kakyoin learned how to drive from F-Mega, which gets Polnareff and Kakyoin in trouble because Kakyoin refers to the driving controls in SNES joypad terms. It does help when ZZ was pursuing the group, later on.
  • XIN claims at one point that he gets his moves from fighting games. It is unclear whether he is serious, however.
  • Zero Punctuation: References in the 'Manhunt review, pointing out that "Pressing buttons to fire a gun in, say, Soldier of Fortune is about as far-removed from the workings of actual guns as my ass is from the dark side of Europa, but then you have games like Manhunt, which not only have the player viciously maim human beings with a variety of household objects, but also provides detailed and up-close demonstrations of how to achieve the most horrific results, and arguing the harmlessness of it all lacks credibility somewhat."

    Western Animation 
  • 6teen: In one episode Jude tries to teach Jen how to drive by having her play a GTA-like arcade game. She ends up failing her driving test.
  • In Archer season 5, Cyril is able to use his tabletop wargaming skills to run an entire country's military.
  • The whole point of Captain N: The Game Master. A gamer teen is summoned to the world where video games are real and makes an effective fighting force out of its bickering local heroes thanks to his encyclopedic knowledge of the games they and their enemies are from.
  • Class of the Titans: Hephaestus modeled a jet engine and set the controls precisely as a video game he and Odie played.
    • "Flies exactly the same as the game, except it's real. Game over means game over."
  • Clerks: The Animated Series spoofs The Last Starfighter example listed above. Randall spends countless hours playing a game called Pharaoh in hopes that the above situation will occur to him — when it does, it turns out the games' makers are looking for slave laborers to build a pyramid.
  • Danny Phantom: In the movie "Reality Trip", Danny pilots the Space Shuttle to a safe landing using his experience playing a Shuttle flight simulator game. Slightly more plausible than it sounds, he wants to grow up to be an astronaut so he might have actually been learning from simulators.
  • Doug: In one episode Judy fails her driving test and then practices for the re-test on a car-race arcade game.
  • Family Guy: The episode "Big Man on Hippocampus", Peter loses his memory. Lois tries to teach him how to drive by telling him to play Grand Theft Auto for 8 hours. The following scene shows Peter assaulting a prostitute and jacking a car.
  • Futurama
    • Parodied in an Anthology Of Interest episode where Fry imagines life being like a video game, where he is recruited to fight the invaders from the video game planet, Nintendu 64. For bonus points, the fight is played out exactly like in Space Invaders. One of the punchlines being that even though the world is warped to suit his strengths, he still fails. Although, apparently he was better than anyone else in the year 3000. The Planet Express crew now uses a video game interface for the Planet Express Ship's weapons for Fry to use.
    • Also the second episode, where Amy is able to pilot the ship and save Fry, Leela and Bender thanks to too much time spent retrieving the ship's keys from the crane game.
  • Glitch Techs: Parodied in the "Karate Trainer". When Miko tries to help her little sister become better at karate, she uses an over-the-top fighting game that naturally has nothing to do with real martial arts. While Lexi does improve a bit, she is ultimately unable to use what the game showed her in an actual match.
    The Master: Your Karate is weak!
    Lexi: I assure you, chicken man, this is not karate!
  • Hey Arnold! does this in The Movie. Arnold insists that Gerald can drive a bus because he's so good at doing so in an arcade game. This was set up near the beginning and justified. Gerald tells Arnold he can never brake fast enough (resulting in a Game Over) at the end with Arnold asking him "Why?" pointing out that he plays the game a lot. The controls are also like a bus with pedals too so Arnold was being Genre Savvy.
  • Invader Zim: Gaz is able to defeat Zim twice, once in a mech and once in a ship, due to her extensive videogame skills, and she thought the former actually was a videogame as the mech was remote controlled. A mild subversion however, as Zim wavers somewhere between Genius Ditz and Idiot Ball.
  • Jimmy Two-Shoes: Jimmy manages to fly a plane somewhat competently because he was good at a video game of it. Of course, the things he did in that episode still mark him as an idiot.
  • Johnny Test: In an episode where the military tries this tactic to recruit soldiers to fight a new rebellion started by angry arctic penguins, they end up recruiting Johnny, who is great at the game and was "amazing" in training facility according to Mr. White.
  • Jonny Quest: The Real Adventures: In the episode "Nemesis", Jonny and Hadji lose their jeep and acquire a tank. Hadji asks Jonny if he knows how to operate one, and Jonny replies "Tank Leader 2. Highest score ever recorded."
  • Kamp Koral: Subverted in "Hill-Fu". Bubble Bass, Harvey, and Kevin are the only campers to challenge Sandy directly instead of running in terror and hiding like all the others (besides SpongeBob). The three of them use their "comic book style" to fight, which amounts to making poses against multicolored backdrops. Sandy points out that they don't know any actual moves, just the poses, and effortlessly knocks them down.
  • Megas XLR: It's stated that the reason Coop is such a good mech pilot is because he plays so many video games. This is slightly more plausible than the others, as he apparently remapped Megas's controls to match his video game experience — a joystick and what appears to be an old NES controller being among the items on the control panel.
    • This is subverted in an episode, where Coop is forced to use a DanceDanceRevolution pad to control Megas. Unfortunately, Coop isn't exactly your regular DDR player, so the fight is a bit... awkward. There's also the fact that Coop is horribly out of shape and is exhausted after only about a minute.
    • The show actually came about by the creators talking about this trope.
  • Justified in an episode of Mighty Max. The hours Max spent playing an arcade fighting game is perfect preparation to battle that episode's antagonist...because they're fighting each other inside the game itself. In this case, the trope is in effect for both of them, because the bad guy is the video game's designer, and has about as much real world fighting experience as the preteen protagonist.
  • Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur: The season finale reveals that Casey has detective skills, knowledge of the exact type of crystal used for stained glass windows in old churches, and can wield a flipping bo staff. She learned these skills from watching true crime shows, home remodeling shows, and online bo staff workout videos, respectively.
  • The Owl House: Luz's skill with Glyphs is tied into her being an artist. More specifically, Word of God states that she practiced by tracing over manga by Hiromu Arakawa, explaining why she's so good at drawing perfect circles.
  • Ready Jet Go!: Sydney is a pro at the video game "Astro Tracker", which involves a joystick and precision skills. Because of this, she easily becomes a great co-pilot to both the Mothership and the family saucer.
  • Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: All of Splinter's "training" for the Turtles is having them watch old kung-fu movies of an action star named Lou Jitsu. It actually works to teach them to become Improbable Weapon Users. It's revealed that Splinter is Lou Jitsu, and that's how he knows the moves performed in those films were legit.
  • Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated: Harlan Ellison's experiences writing science fiction, including time travel, give him actual Ripple-Effect-Proof Memory.
  • In She-Ra and the Princesses of Power, in the episode "Mer-Mysteries", Mermista bases her entire plan to sniff out the spy on having read a lot of mystery novels. Hilariously, Perfuma is just getting into them and gets upset when Mermista spoils one. She even disqualifies Shadow Weaver as a suspect early on by noting that it's too obviously her for it to be her; although admittedly, she's not wrong.
  • The Simpsons:
    • An episode involves the family having bought too much stuff at Rainer Wolfcastle's garage sale to fit in the car along with all of them. Homer declares "This is what all those hours of playing Tetris were for." He then proceeds to pack in all of the now-very-familiarly-shaped items into the car as the Tetris theme plays, as well as "folding" Lisa and Bart into zigzag and L blocks respectively before placing them inside (unfortunately, he only realises after he's filled the car that he hasn't left space in there for himself, requiring Wolfcastle to take Homer home himself).
    • There is also an episode where Bart takes karate lessons but gets bored and just ends up going to the arcade. He learns the "Touch of Death" from a game there, which ends up working on his sister and convincing his family he's actually going to his lessons. It backfires later though, when he's actually challenged to use it against the school bullies to defend Lisa and has to reveal he's just been bluffing.
  • South Park: The episode "Best Friends Forever" also spoofed The Last Starfighter with Angels replacing the aliens and a PSP game replacing the arcade game.
  • Star Trek: Lower Decks: In "Envoys", Ensign Sam Rutherford's cybernetic implant allows him to vanquish an entire team of holographic Borg drones in unarmed combat.
  • Inverted and subverted in Steven Universe. Pearl is a skilled driver when it comes to actual vehicles (even though she doesn't have the necessary paperwork to get a driver's license), and she tries to apply those skills to a video game. Unfortunately, the game is based around earning points by crashing into things.
  • Taz-Mania: In "Astro-Taz", Taz's skill at video games allows him to shoot out a meteor swarm that was going to destroy the Earth.

    Real Life 
Despite how unintuitive it may seem, it is entirely possible to get at least somewhat better at something by simulating it in a video game or something similar. And it can happen in several different applications, with varying degrees of success.
  • In auto racing, a driver who has never driven on a particular course before can get a basic feel for it by playing a simulated version of it in a video game. While it's far from sufficient to get a handle of the real thing (as the Top Gear (UK) example demonstrates, the consequences of a mistake in a video game are far less severe than they would be on the real course), it can be useful for visualizing the track and its idiosyncrasies.
    • NASCAR:
      • Driver Denny Hamlin credited the PC game NASCAR Racing 2003 Season for helping him navigate the notoriously tricky Pocono Racewaynote , sweeping both races in his rookie season, considered an improbable feat. He went on to become one of the most successful racers on the track in NASCAR history.
      • In the 2022 Xfinity 500 in Martinsville, driver Ross Chastain credited NASCAR 2005 on the Nintendo GameCube for a championship qualifying move that even the commentators called being straight out of a video game: wall riding the last two turns in the final lap to overtake five cars and barely make it to the final playoff game of the season.
      • In general, the bigger NASCAR teams usually employ a driver from the lower series who does nothing but test the simulator and prepare setups for the other team's drivers.
    • Formula One pilots have been known to use racing simulators prior to races to get a better feel for the timing of turns and hills on a given course.
    • The video game iRacing is an attempt to invoke this trope. It's a very intricate simulation, with a mockup cockpit and force feedback that allow players to feel every bump in the road and shift in the car. Several well-known professional racing drivers have used it, and if an amateur gamer is good enough at it, it's entirely possible for them to drive the real track well enough to get within a few seconds of an acceptable lap time for a pro. That's where one learns that finding those last few seconds is the real skill that separates the pros from the amateurs.
    • Gran Turismo creator Kazunori Yamauchi took part in the 2010 24 Hours of Nürburgring, a brutal challenge even for real-life racers. While it was his first time on the infamous Nordschleife in real life, he had driven "over 1000 laps" of it in the video game. He admitted that it was a "shock" when he first set off, but his experience in the game paid off; his team finished fourth in their class and 59th overall, after starting from 174th place on the grid. Yamauchi would become a regular participant in that race from then on.
    • The GT Academy program sponsored by Nissan was an experiment to see if expert players of Gran Turismo could apply their skills in real-life racing, with the ultimate prize for the top two players being a chance to take part in the real-life 24 Hours of Dubai endurance race. The winners turned out to do reasonably well.
    • A lot of people learnt to drive playing Grand Theft Auto , particularly IV and V which feature a much more realistic simulation than earlier games did. Unlike racing games, you can drive with regular traffic flow and obey traffic lights and what not. That said, the ability to completely ignore road rules and cause large amounts of destruction in the game has led to the opposite effect. A large amount of car crash videos on Youtube, particularly from Russia, feature unlicensed drivers driving as recklessly as in GTA.

  • Militaries in real life have tried their hands at training recruits by having them play video games as simulations. It turns out that not only are recruits these days very familiar with video games, there are certain advantages of the medium, like training recruits in using equipment without having to actually procure it (and risk it breaking or getting lost), or teaching lateral thinking by cooking up a particularly frustrating Unwinnable Training Simulation.
    • In 1998, Herb Lacey was accepted into naval flight training despite having no prior flight experience other than Microsoft Flight Simulator. He went on to graduate near the top of his class. The US Air Force and Navy now promote the game as simulator training and even provide their own add-ons; they've seen that students who use the software score higher on average in real flight training than those who don't.
    • The US military has tested using networked First-Person Shooter games for infantry training. While it doesn't particularly help with the shooting, it turned out to be great for teaching soldiers how to communicate while on the move and in combat. They've in fact been doing it since the 1980s, using games like Defender and Missile Command, and even commissioning Atari to make a custom version of Battlezone with additional gunnery controls for target practice. They've gotten even deeper into commissioning games for training since then:
      • The US Marine Corps developed a custom map pack for Doom, entitled Marine Doom. It would later be sold commercially, and the creators became full-time game developers.
      • The US Army commissioned Full Spectrum Warrior for exactly this. Although the retail version isn't exactly the same as the army training version (after all, consumers expect to have fun), the army version is available as an unlockable bonus. The game's origins show in its gameplay; emphasis is on movement rather than shooting indiscriminately, NPCs are actually as helpful as you'd expect your fellow soldiers to be, and getting injured causes as many problems in the game as it would in real life.
      • The US Army also commissioned America's Army and released it to the public as a free download. It has more realistic combat mechanics than the vast majority of video games (including legal and moral consequences for team-killing). It also makes it a point to track players' progress (opting out of the game's account system requires hacking the game). Its most interesting feature is its medic class; just being able to play as a medic requires sitting through three first aid classes (and passing tests at the end of each), and the game has been credited in at least one case of a civilian using what he learned to save someone's life after a car crash.
    • In The Falklands War, the Argentines used mass wave tactics that overloaded the computer-based targeting systems of British anti-air defenses. However, the British soldiers were able to overcome this by targeting them manually, having done that sort of thing in Space Invaders.
    • Attack drones are so effective in part because controlling them is highly intuitive for anyone who's played a video game before. Early versions came with console-like controllers; later ones can even be controlled from an ordinary smartphone.
    • Militaries and police forces have made use of video games for training recruits in things that aren't killing, flying, or other typical video game things. They can be used to teach foreign language skills, negotiation techniques, or logistics management.
    • Lt. Col. Dave Grossman posits that video games could work as real-life Murder Simulators for the military — the idea being that a sufficiently realistic video game, played often enough, can overcome the natural human reluctance to take another human life. It's part of a grander research project looking for other things that can overcome this instinct (like sufficiently aggressive contact sports). Grossman's research is controversial, though, especially as many of the studies he cites in support in turn cite his own works.
    • Most experienced soldiers consider the prevalence of this trope to be something of a lateral move. While soldiers who grew up on video games are incredibly adaptable, especially to rapidly evolving technology and the changes it creates, they're also softer on average because they don't have sufficient real-life experience and can't rely on muscle memory to help them.
  • Can a video game give you a leg up if you had to do a Crash Course Landing? Apparently, it can.
    • An episode of The Gadget Show carried out an experiment to see if one could learn how to fly a plane using only Microsoft Flight Simulator. The test subject succeeded — but only after using thousands of pounds' worth of peripherals.
    • A man in Australia enjoyed playing Microsoft Flight Simulator so much that he set up a custom arrangement of over 20 monitors to give him a panoramic view. That got him so good at the game that he was able to leverage that skill into a particularly quick path to a pilot's license.
    • In 2018, an airport employee in Seattle stole a plane and took it for a joyride. He went on to do stunts and loops with it (yes, he did a barrel roll), telling air traffic controllers trying desperately to communicate with him that he learned from doing video games. It was particularly impressive as professionals have trouble with such maneuvers and the plane he was in was not designed for them. Unfortunately, he wasn't planning to land, and once he was done showing off and out of fuel, he crashed the plane in the forest.
    • It's not all good guys doing this, either. Some of the 9/11 hijackers learned to handle large aircraft by playing Microsoft Flight Simulator. Although at least a couple of them went to real flight schools and picked up commercial aircraft licenses, none of them learned to fly anything as big as what they were planning to hijack. Their job was made considerably easier by the fact that they didn't need to learn how to land.
  • It works quite well in robotics competitions. Most of the best teleoperators are gamers, who have a natural ability to cope with the relative lack of force feedback when controlling a robot.
    • Season 4 of BattleBots featured a 12-year-old rookie driver who made it to the lightweight quarterfinals because his video game experience allowed him to be one of the best drivers at the event.
    • The winner of Robot Wars Series 10, and runner-up of BattleBots ABC Season 2, were both designed and driven by people who had specifically honed their skills by playing Robot Arena 2.
    • When militaries started using robots regularly, they found that soldiers struggled mightily with the robots' controllers — until they mapped the controls to a video game controller. Nowadays, most robots for this purpose are designed to be controlled like a game console, if not using actual consoles' controllers or knockoffs thereof.
  • This guy took down his knife-armed attacker with a leg sweep he learned from watching mixed martial arts on television.
  • Robotic surgery is becoming more common, and younger surgeons take to it more easily thanks to video game experience, leading to newer systems like the DaVinci Surgical System looking a lot like a video game. Many surgeons have also specifically cited Tetris with improving their hand-eye coordination.
  • Video games and other media with historical elements — even if they're an Anachronism Stew — can teach you a lot about history. Especially if you make use of resources like This Very Wiki explaining every historical inaccuracy — or Historical In-Joke. In anime circles, it's a bit of a meme to say, "Hetalia boosted my history grade."
  • An interesting variation occurred with Activision's Space Shuttle: A Journey Into Space for the Atari 2600. In normal gameplay — and in Real Life — the Shuttle's primary engines are used to de-orbit, while the secondary ones are for minor adjustments. During game development, however, a tester was able to de-orbit and land the Shuttle using only the secondary engines. Thinking it was a bug, programmer Gary Kitchen asked NASA to try the maneuver on their simulators to compare the results... and they managed the same feat. Sometime later, emergency procedures on how to land using only the secondary engines were added to the Real Life Space Shuttle's instruction procedures.
  • In the late 1990s, one could occasionally see a funny Bumper Sticker reading "WARNING: I LEARNED HOW TO DRIVE ON MY PLAYSTATION!"
  • Inverted with Cities: Skylines, a notoriously frustrating game for a casual gamer because it's quite unforgiving and unintuitive — unless you actually have training as a city planner.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Fiction Taught Me How To Kick Ass


Derek Zoolander's brainwashing

In order to kill the prime minister of Malaysia so Child Labor laws can be abolished and the fashion industry can grow, Mugatu brainwashes Derek Zoolander under the guise that he was going for a spa treatment to kill the prime minister when he hears "Relax" by Franky Goes To Hollywood.

How well does it match the trope?

4.43 (7 votes)

Example of:

Main / ManchurianAgent

Media sources: