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Pac-Man Fever

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"You Win — Advance to Level 7"

For the 1982 novelty single and album by Buckner & Garcia, click here.

For whatever reason, video games seen on TV never evolved past a very primitive state from classic 8-bit games (such as Pac-Man).

If video game sounds are heard, it will be bleeping Arcade Sounds. Characters talking about video games will similarly seem out-of-touch. Characters will talk about "beating the level" or "getting the high score," which are elements tied more to arcades than home consoles. If a storyline is mentioned, it will only be as deep as "save the galaxy from aliens." It also seems that the only way to play these games is to mash all the buttons as fast as possible while flailing wildly on the control stick, with the player barely managing to stay in their seat.


In short, this is The Theme Park Version of video games.

This trope has several root causes. It was most prevalent in the early 2000s, and was a clear result of Two Decades Behind. Most screenwriters remembered video games as simplistic arcade games from the '80s or from the NES such as Pac-Man or Donkey Kong, and so that's what they continued to write into TV shows and films, long after video games had since moved on to more sophisticated gameplay and storytelling. If not "beat the level"-type games, expect Ultra Super Death Gore Fest Chainsawer 3000 for those writers who remembered Doom or Mortal Kombat (both again from the early '90s). As newer and newer writers enter the industry to replace the new guard, they're either looking back either on the relatively newer games from their own childhoods or the actual new games they're playing themselves as a hobby, putting this trope on track to becoming a Discredited Trope.


Other reasons could include copyright. While it wouldn't be hard to toss in some footage and sound from a modern game, it may cost quite a bit to get the rights to do so. Thirdly, primitive game graphics can be a visual shorthand for "not real" in cartoons, which are already moving, simplified graphics; and, more generally, this can be done to avoid having the sounds and voices from a video game become confused with actual events onscreen, since modern real-world video games are designed to sound realistic.

If you're too young to remember what Pac-Man was like on the Atari 2600, check this out. And this for good measure. And, this is Donkey Kong on the same system. These two games probably account for the vast, vast majority of Arcade Sounds used on TV. Very rarely, though, you'll hear a Super Mario Bros. sound effect, or one from Sonic the Hedgehog every once in a blue moon.


See also: Arcade Sounds, Beeping Computers, Fictional Video Game, Video Arcade, The Coconut Effect, Public Medium Ignorance, Two Decades Behind, and Hollywood Game Design. Compare Stock Footage. If pushed far enough, it can lead to Schizo Tech. Not to be confused with the Nintendo GameCube game of the same name or an obsession about a certain Filipino boxer. For the case of someone playing Pac-Man feverently, see Just One More Level!.

The Trope Namer is the 1982 novelty song "Pac Man Fever" by Buckner and Garcia.


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  • Countless advertisement images and banners have used stock photography of people playing video games using outdated controllers, most commonly from the Xbox and PlayStation families.
  • The Acclaim Remote wireless NES gamepad ad shows a kid button-mashing furiously while playing WWF WrestleMania and Wizards & Warriors, activating rapid fire on Top Gun with pew-pew-pew sounds, and doing flips and firing laser beams.
  • An ad for Rad Racer on the NES shows the player with the NES Advantage controller, who believes he is playing with a steering wheel controller on the arcade machine, holding down on the joystick like a gear stick, possibly due to muscle memory.
  • An ad for Tetris on the NES shows a player button-mashing, while the screen shows a piece being rotated once before being placed, which would mean one button press followed by holding down on the + Control Pad.
  • An ad for Subway restaurants has a kid playing an Atari game where the Player Character eats burgers, hot dogs, and other junk foods, and then gets so fat he can't fit through a gap in the platforms to get at a gigantic sundae. The game's graphics are actually too advanced for an Atari console to handle, and it comes complete with the requisite random jerking around of the joystick.
  • An ad for batteries from around 2007 seems to advertise their potential for gaming, particularly handheld gaming, despite the fact that 1) you're unlikely to find a modern game about "space ninjas" where you go for a high score that isn't a parody or homage minigame, which shows how well they know their target demographic, and 2) starting with the Game Boy Advance SP (which came out in 2003), handhelds began to use proprietary rechargeable batteries rather than AAs. An egregious example as, unlike most of these, this ad was aimed at gamers.
  • The makers of Fruit by the Foot once struck a promotional deal with Nintendo to print gameplay tips for Nintendo 64 games on the snack's cellophane wrappers. The commercial showed two teenagers grown old, with one who's been waiting 62 years for his friend to finish playing. He's supposedly been using the snack's hints to keep from losing for all these years... but he's playing Banjo-Kazooie. If the tips are so useful, why hasn't he beaten it by now? It's even worse for the next commercial, where he's playing Mario Party 2, which is specifically designed to be a multiplayer game. 62 years and he never thought to go to the store and buy a second controller?!
  • A Mexican ad for Mirinda promoting Pokémon bottle caps starts with four kids yelling and button-mashing like savages... while playing Pokémon Stadium (not even the Mini Game section in which it would be at least a little believable; the screen clearly shows a battle between a Squirtle and a Meowth). Made worse a second later when they show the screen saying "GAME OVER", a phrase you will never see in multiplayer (nor in any main Pokemon game series, for that mater).
  • During The '90s, in Mexico, there was a long run TV ads campaign, "Ojo, Mucho Ojo", which is translated as something around "Keep an Eye Out", which had the goal of teaching kids to stay away from adults who act suspisciously with them. One of them starts with a group of kids playing in an Arcade center. The look at the screen shows us that they're playing Killer Instinct. The MC kid loses, asks for one more, but the others tell him that he should learn first, all while they were being carefully watched by a creepy guy behind them. The sounds you can hear are absolutely not from that game (one commenter says that the sounds are actually from NES Tiny Toon Adventures). Check it here.
  • A Russian ad for Choco-Boy snacks says there is a contest to win a PSP Go and shows a kid playing it, but what we see on the screen is Choco-Boy running with a background taken right from the Super Mario All-Stars version of Super Mario Bros..
  • Look no further than the box cover of the AK Rocker gamer chair for a prime example of this: A family of three (dad, son, daughter) are all on the eponymous chairs playing a game together... with an Xbox or PlayStation 2, Nintendo 64, and Xbox controller, respectively, and the dad appears to be holding the controller backwards. Of course, it also depicts another family playing games cosplaying as Vikings, so take that as you will. Here's a pic.
  • And then there's a commercial for becoming a game designer that's so bad Alta Colleges doesn't want you to see it. Parodied by Three Panel Soul here.
  • One advertisement for an online Mega Man X game, seen on this very wiki, depicts a scene using sprites from Mega Man 7, where Mega Man fights Proto Man. The main problem with this is that neither Proto Man or the pictured version of Mega Man even appear in any game in the Mega Man X series. Also, both Proto Man and Mega Man are heroic characters, although they do engage in some friendly sparring every now and then.
  • A print commercial for Crash: Mind Over Mutant shows two kids playing the game with a Nintendo GameCube controller. Note that when Radical Entertainment took over the Crash franchise (Mind over Mutant being their third game), the GameCube was long dead. And the Wii version of said game does not support GameCube controls.
  • Parodied in this commercial for Sci Fi Channel, wherein Lara Croft plays a version of Pong with stock sound effects from the Atari 2600's version of Donkey Kong—whilst on a PlayStation.
  • A commercial for a Racing Game called Juice falls victim to this. Two gamers are sitting in their car, fooling around with the car customizing tool when they notice the changes they make in game affect a nearby woman's dress and body. Despite being in a customization screen, both gamers appear to be playing, and at the end they make her rotate in place while rapidly changing the color of her dress... by slamming the joysticks and mashing the buttons repeatedly. They proceed to shorten her skirt, increase the woman's bust size and strip the top off, whereas they then remove the dress completely, which by the commercial's own logic would require them to strip off the outside of their car.
  • Gamer Grub is a semi-example. It doesn't depict games themselves in unrealistic ways, but it does bring up the strange idea that games aren't compatible with most snacks. Granted, the package can be tipped so the food can be eaten without being handled, but that hardly narrows the field.
  • In Canada, a Tim Horton's ad is partially an aversion and partially (the part video game players will remember) a straight example. A guy is nearly caught playing video games at work (he gets away with it because his boss is too fascinated with the guy's Tim Horton's latte to notice what he's actually doing). We get a clear look at a screen of actual gameplay from Angry Birds. Yet, the accompanying sounds are generic '80s bleeps, nothing like anything you'll hear actually playing that game.
  • Verimark, a South African store selling assorted tat, advertises the "i-Play" games console, a little Game Boy-type gadget along the lines of the PSP with "60 built-in games!!!" and "High-resolution graphics!!!", among other gaming marketing buzzwords. A shame the device itself uses pretty basic graphics that at best approach SNES-era gaming.
  • In an Australian ad for RACV insurance, while inspecting the house, one of the insurance men grabs a generic PlayStation game box called "Zombie Attack!" from a shelf and exclaims that it is his favorite. Needless to say, there is no game called "Zombie Attack" on PlayStation.
  • This ad depicting someone playing one of the Bowser sub-games from Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door... with a PS3 controller.
  • Neutrogena put out an ad in late 2011 which features a bottle of shampoo playing a game much like Space Invaders against reappearing dandruff, complete with early-80's style sound effects. Then the bottle of Neutrogena scores a One-Hit Kill and triggers the A Winner Is You ending against dandruff.
  • This commercial for Sonic the Hedgehog pasta by Franco-American has a boy playing Sonic and Knuckles on a Sega Genesis (specifically the Mushroom Hill stage). Ordinarily, this example would avert this trope, except the music playing in the background is from the Chemical Plant stage from Sonic the Hedgehog 2 and the kid's button presses don't match what Sonic is doing on-screen.
  • Kellogg's has a Froot Loops commercial where a couple is sitting on a couch, and when the wife pulls out a box of Froot Loops, they end up a few seconds later enjoying a game of the Super Mario Bros. attract mode. To their credit, this gaffe was later caught and fixed.
  • A 2015 "You're not you when you're hungry" Snickers ad has bleeping arcade sounds and furious button-mashing from two players holding GameCube controllers. The problem isn't the use of the Game Cube (the console is still commonly played despite being outdated), but rather that it uses stock sound effects roughly 30 years out of date.
  • The 2015 John Lewis Christmas Commercial, revolving around a girl and her telescope, has a shot of her brother sitting in the background tuning out his surroundings while playing a handheld game console, which is emitting the traditional old-fashioned bleeps.
  • A 2017 product picture for a brand of charging cables sold on Amazon depict a boy playing stock artwork of Mario Kart 8 on a PlayStation Vita (poorly airbrushed to remove the Sony branding, even though the prominent PlayStation logo on the Home button is still there) with a mirrored GameCube controller without looking at the screen.

    Anime and Manga 
  • Done deliberately in Arcade Gamer Fubuki. Fubuki's first opponent plays a joystick game while wearing boxing gloves.
  • A fairly obscure example lies in the sole English-subbed episode of Kyou Kara Ore wa!!, where at one point the main character is waiting for someone and plays the early Game Boy shooter Solar Striker, complete with actual footage. However, the sounds are your generic random bleeps and bloops, as opposed to the actual (although still bleeping and blooping) soundtrack.
  • In an early episode from the English dub of Cardcaptor Sakura, Kero is seen playing an RPG that looks similar to Shining Force, but with sound effects from the Atari 2600 version of Donkey Kong in the background.
  • In an episode of Ghost Stories two characters are shown playing Dark Cloud together, using actual footage from the game. What's the problem? Dark Cloud is a single player game. And the console shown was a first-generation PlayStation while Dark Cloud was one of the launch title for PlayStation 2. The Gag Dub takes it a step further by adding Ultra Super Death Gore Fest Chainsawer 3000 on top of that, the characters talk about the game as if it were a violent Rated M for Money game along the lines of Grand Theft Auto and mention beating up hookers. Needless to say, none of that is in Dark Cloud, though it's likely played for the laughs.
  • Nanana's Buried Treasure has the titular character play Terraria with a wide screen TV, seemingly averting this trope... until it is shown that the controller is a 1st-generation Famicom controller.
  • Ouran High School Host Club. In a flashback, the twins Hikaru and Kaoru are playing (well, one of them is playing) a game on what is clearly a Game Boy Advance—but when we see the screen, the graphics are comically low-rez, looking more like an LCD Game & Watch (Maybe they were playing Game & Watch Gallery 4). Averted in a later flashback, where they've upgraded to a DS.
  • In K-On!, the game that Ritsu lost to Ui again on is being played on a So— er, Pony console (Slaystation 2, perhaps?), judging by the controllers... but Arcade Sounds is definitely in play here.
  • Durarara!!: Celty and Shinra play what appears, from Shinra's comments, to be a Mario Fighting Game, with the requisite Atari noises and PlayStation controllers. The game case is a PSX-style CD Jewel case, but the system clearly loads carts. (They don't appear to be playing it on any sort of TV either, but that's okay because Celty doesn't have a head.)
  • Played with in SHUFFLE!: Two characters can be seen playing a video game on a TV with bleeps and bloops. Cut to another angle, and it turns out they're playing Pong.
  • Naruto is shown playing a video game that looks 8-bit at least once. Makes some degree of sense, considering the Anachronism Stew in play elsewhere. By Boruto, gaming has advanced.
  • One episode of Super Sonico has her play what is clearly BioShock 2 on a Sega Saturn. Played with in that this takes place in her dream, so it might just be The Tetris Effect.
  • Subverted in Crossbone Gundam Skull Heart: The "Satellite of the Apes" story has a Flash Back showing that Garma Zabi was inspired to test monkeys for Newtype potential after seeing one play Pac-Man, but a margin note from the author remarks that he just used it as a stand-in for whatever video games they'd have in the future.
  • Sgt. Frog: Averted. A recurring plot element involves the Keronians creating video games that are a bit TOO interactive.
  • Chio's School Road, the anime adaptation has a subplot where Chio trying to get a magazine (in an era where online media overtook traditional media, especially for niches) specifically caters to Western games but to her chagrin, it's discontinued. Then a narrator explains how Western games are unpopular because of its violence (true) and how Japanese language are usually sold as DLC (completely false except for that one and only instance where Japanese PC version of Tomb Raider (2013) was sold as a DLC).

    Asian Animation 
  • In Happy Heroes, any time a video game the characters are playing is being shown on-screen, it utilizes previously-used 8-bit art shift footage and couples it with similarly retro-sounding music to fit. This show mostly takes place on a futuristic planet and one of the characters, Doctor H., invents a virtual reality headset in one of the early episodes.

    Comic Books 
  • Inverted and played straight at the same time: In an issue of an Ultimate Marvel title, Wolverine is seen playing a full 3D game on a handheld system that looks exactly like a Game Boy. On one hand, the graphics look much more advanced than those of real handhelds of that time. On the other hand, the idea of a 3D console having the same number of buttons as a Game Boy is simply laughable — any gamer will tell you that two action buttons and a + Control Pad are nowhere near enough for most 3D games. Add to that the fact that the story was set some time after the Game Boy design had been abandoned, replaced by the Game Boy Advance design. (The GBA controversially also had only two face buttons backed up by two shoulder buttons and could manage some primitive 3D.)
  • The shooter Loki plays in issue #4 of Loki: Agent of Asgard looks positively retro (16-bit tops) despite the console looking current for the most part. But then again, it gave Loki an opportunity to shoot the All-Mother in the face, when they chose to manifest through it.
    Loki: Well, this is certainly therapeutic.
  • Aboard the starship Entreprise-2601 in Pouvoirpoint , on several occasions we see the characters playing a first-person video game in black and green wireframe, called Death Race in a Non-Euclidean Environment (visually inspired by the 1979 Commodore PET game Ratrun). To defeat the boss "Sly Lozenge", the player must find the "Power Polyhedron", which activates "Hyperbolic Crystals". This raises the specter of the "Rectangle of the Mountain'', who give the player "Symplectic Invincibility"... They also play an unnamed 8-bit fighting game, with a red fighter against a blue fighter. Lots of Button Mashing seems to be involved.
  • An Italian Donald Duck comic features a villain by the name of "The Analog Knight" interrupting a videogame tournament by transforming modern gaming consoles into tabletop games. The scene shows two guys playing on a console styled after the Xbox 360, but the TV screen shows a scene that was clearly traced from a Final Fantasy XII screenshot. Not only was Final Fantasy XII never released on a Microsoft console, it's not even a multiplayer game.
  • Played for Laughs in one Sinister Dexter one shot story. In an arcade littered with a huge variety of virtual reality games where players plug into customisable worlds, Sinister spends the day playing Pong. Justified in that it's apparently the only non-VR game in the place and he's doing it to kill time and blend in while waiting for his target (the arcade's owner, no less) to come in.

    Fan Works 
  • Amazingly, Calvin and Hobbes: The Series manages to play this trope straight. Andy plays a portable game by button-mashing, and the game is described as "a plumber trying to rescue a princess from a wizard and collect the power crystals", something found in mid-80's to early-90's video games. Said chapter couldn't have been released later than 2010.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Shorts features a particularly bad example of this. Various characters in the film are often shown playing Spore. Normally this wouldn't be all that bad, but said characters are shown playing it multiplayer (Spore is a single player game), on a PS3 (Spore is PC exclusive), and while randomly mashing buttons all while showing the Creature Creator on screen. To top it all off, nothing is even happening on the screen while said button-mashing is happening (the creature is clearly in its idle animation), and several bleeps reminiscent of some kind of weapons fire are heard.
  • In Charlie's Angels (2000), two boys are shown playing Final Fantasy VIII with two 3rd party PlayStation controllers and button-mashing unrealistically while out-of-place sound-effects play — though the sound effects are not particularly old-sounding and not from Pac-Man. The really bad part is that Final Fantasy VIII is not only a game for which button-mashing is counterproductive (unless you're charging up your GF summons), but that it's NOT a two-player game.
  • Rumble in the Bronx and Airheads feature cartridgeless Sega Game Gear consoles. Rumble in the Bronx is particularly amusing, as the wheel-chair bound kid exclaims while playing the cartridge- and battery-less Game Gear: "Thank you for the game, uncle Jackie!"
  • Surf Ninjas also features a cartridgeless Game Gear, though there it's a bit of a plot point.
  • Intentionally played straight in The 40-Year-Old Virgin, in which two characters play Mortal Kombat: Deception by flailing randomly on incorrect controllers and using a console it's not on. The filmmakers tried to get as many things wrong as possible (although the gameplay footage itself is accurate, even showing off some Fatalities).
  • In Elephant, one of the characters who shoots up his school plays a game in which he shoots several identical people in the desert. (The people seem to resemble the characters from Gerry, Gus Van Sant's previous film, about two guys who get lost in a desert.) The point of the game seems to be to shoot people who don't do anything but walk around.
  • Live Free or Die Hard has dozens of computers but no mice; at one point, the actor who plays the heroic hacker reaches for the area where a mouse should be. On the other hand, the intro to the movie quite clearly shows several of the hackers playing Gears of War, and one of Warlock's many screens has the same game paused on it.
  • Jarhead has a few lines of dialogue referring to levels in Metroid, and that if you reach the tenth level, nothing happens, you just start at the beginning again. Erm, no. Metroid is divided into geographic areas, not levels, and they're named, not numbered. It's also not an Endless Game, and shows a closing cutscene and rolls the credits when completed.
  • Training Day: A kid plays on a Dreamcast controller while stock 70s Arcade sound effects play in the background.
  • In Return of the Living Dead 3, a group of thugs are playing what's clearly Street Fighter II in a convenience store, yet it makes sounds like an early 1980s arcade game. In addition, the game is clearly in demo mode, as the Street Fighter II marquee keeps flashing up even though they're meant to be in the middle of a heated battle.
  • In Transformers (2007), Glen's cousin is playing DanceDanceRevolution; when Glen enters, he asks what level he's on, and the reply is "Six!" (Level 6 songs in DDR included ".59" and "Healing Vision" on Standard or "Max 300" on Light, prior to the expansion from 10 to 18 levels in DDR X.) Then Glen pauses the game and asks his cousin to leave the room, and the reply is "Well, save my game!" (Unlike Amplitude, Guitar Hero, and Rock Band, DDR doesn't have pause. It does, like those games, have auto-save.) Very likely he's actually playing StepMania, a DDR-alike that has similar graphics.
  • Inside Man goes the opposite extreme. A kid plays an ersatz Grand Theft Auto PSP game. When we see clips, the game's graphics are too advanced for the PSP, especially since at the time Sony had the CPU speed slowed down to preserve battery life.
  • La Maquina de Bailar ("The Dance Machine") is a Spanish film where the plot involves a nobody winning a DanceDanceRevolution tournament in order to pay off a debt. Even with official endorsement from Konami, many "liberties" were taken with the game — mainly that each player's whacked-out dancing doesn't even attempt to correspond with the arrows onscreen (which, when shown, display a stepchart from another song... at the lowest difficulty... and they're repeatedly missing steps.) Not to mention that the best way to train for a DDR tournament is, apparently, to take a ballet class (as opposed to playing the game instead.)
  • The low-budget horror film How To Make A Monster was obviously written by someone who had no knowledge of video game development. A triple-A title game is being created by three programmers and a producer. Now that's an efficient development system. The programmers are in charge of "AI", "Weapons" (?), and "Audio", and bafflingly, the CEO promises $1 million to the programmer who makes the game the "scariest", igniting a fierce rivalry between the trio. Yes, instead of encouraging teamwork, the CEO encourages rivalry between three development teams that worked on separate parts of the game. However, when the game is shown, it averts Pac-Man Fever, as it shows a contemporary first person hack and slash with the graphics and quality expected of the year.
  • Grosse Pointe Blank features a kid playing an arcade game in a convenience store, but the game he's playing is Doom II, which was never officially turned into an arcade game.
  • In Beethoven, there's a scene where the brother and older sister are playing Super Mario Bros. 3 together. As in simultaneously mashing buttons on their controllers, even though the footage shown indicates that they're not playing one of the "versus games" that actually allows simultaneous play. Plus, the brother is wearing the Mattel Power Glove but uses his free hand on the "standard controller" button setup that's built into the glove.
  • Meet Dave has an extremely stupid example. The eponymous alien plays against a kid in what appears to be Kinetica, an F-Zero/Wipeout-like racing game for a PlayStation 2. The kid seems to be playing correctly, but Dave just taps his fingers over the controller like a mad man, and kicks the kid's ass in the game. Granted, he's an alien unfamiliar with human video games, but there is no way that Button Mashing on crack could help you in any racing game at all, as they don't require combos. If it were a fighting game, this might've been funny, but in a racing game it looks stupid.
  • In Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey, the kids are playing StarTropics 2 together and the stepdad asks who's winning. The actual game is single-player; the NES didn't have enough video memory for co-op RPGs.
  • The horrific Police Academy: Mission to Moscow. Not only do various characters in the movie sport cartridgeless Game Boys (of the black and white variety — the color models didn't come out until 4 years later), but videos of the game in action are blatantly shot on a PC monitor, in color!
  • In the Hulk Hogan movie Suburban Commando, there is a section where a kid and Hulk Hogan's character play After Burner all while randomly yelling nonsensical crap about some space alien and phasers despite briefly showing us some gameplay footage that depicts a very much Earth-based fighter jet. They're also playing it very wrong, but then, Hogan's character doesn't know it is a game (not that this stops The Hulkster from beating the game anyway — it even raises a white flag in surrender!).
  • The brief scene supposedly parodying Grand Theft Auto in Meet The Spartans: Leonidas starts running in very jerky motions as he steals a car, soundtracked by 8-bit-esque sound effects and music. Although this is Seltzer and Friedberg we're talking about here...
  • The Lindsay Lohan movie Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen has a scene in which Lohan's character plays Dance Dance Revolution, or a DDR ripoff, against the antagonist (played by Megan Fox). They both actually dance in synchronous, from the waist up and everything, never mind the way DDR actually works.
  • Dead Babies: Perfect Dark is played on an N64 with a PlayStation 2 controller.
  • World's Greatest Dad features technology contemporary to the year it was released, 2009, yet the teenage son announces that he's going to play Doom, a game older than he is. The character is portrayed as anything but a retro-gamer.
  • In a scene in Big Daddy, Julian is seen playing Twisted Metal III with sounds beeping like a generic '80s arcade game, not the actual sounds.
  • Ferris Bueller's Day Off has a Karate Champ arcade game with Pac-Man sound effects.
  • Garrison's Flowers: There is a PlayStation, though the film is set in 1991.
  • One scene in Harriet the Spy: Blog Wars shows a character playing a licensed video game — it's in 3D, but it's an unbelievably crappy-looking Sprite/Polygon Mix, and it comes complete with Button Mashing and Arcade Sounds.
  • Life is Ruff: A cartridgeless Nintendo 64 is being played.
  • My Blue Heaven: The Goonies II is played, overdubbed with sounds from the Atari 2600 Pac-Man.
  • Almost averted in The Rocker. There are a couple scenes where the main characters are playing Rock Band on Xbox 360. They use the actual game guitars, the music plays as normal and they don't mash the instruments like crazy, but when they stop playing (without pausing), the game is still being shown in background, with the notes still going on, and the notes being mysteriously still played, making it clear that it was just a video of the game being played.
  • In the film Skinned Deep, the younger brother starts playing a SNES. Without turning on the TV. Or putting a game in the console. You start to see why he was killed off early on.
  • In Bring It On, Kirsten Dunst's character's brother is seen playing Twisted Metal III, and he actually looks like he's playing it and not randomly smashing buttons, and the sound effects are typical of what you'd hear from that game. All goes well until he makes a smartass comment about her boyfriend, causing her to get mad and rip the controller out of the system so hard it pops open the console, revealing no game inside of it.
  • The Wizard, a film which could best be described as a 90-minute Nintendo commercial, featured genuine footage of Super Mario Bros. 3 several months before its release. It still managed a number of inaccuracies, however:
    • One of the main characters getting 50,000 points in Double Dragon by mashing buttons during the opening cutscene. (The arcade machines playing NES games could be Playchoice-10 machines.)
    • There's also the bit where someone comments on Jimmy getting so far in Ninja Gaiden without taking a hit, when the screen we see shows a couple notches off his health bar. He even keeps playing after Haley sets a magazine down over 90% of the screen, though that could possibly be because he's "autistic".
    • Not to mention, after the dad (Beau Bridges) gets hooked on Zelda II, the older son (Christian Slater) snaps him out of it by unplugging the controller — which somehow shuts off not only the NES, but the TV he's playing on.
    • And also the other scene when the dad mashing buttons like he's playing Double Dragon when you can clearly hear the sounds from Zelda II.
    • In the Super Mario Bros. 3 scene, Jimmy shoots into the lead by getting the warp flute. However, it's a points race, and you don't get any points for that... The whole "points race" thing counts too, since even at the time, most gamers strove more for progress through the levels rather than points. Besides, in a points race, the warp flute would actually be counter productive - it gets you to higher levels that have harder enemies and fewer opportunities for points, by outright skipping several other levels and all of their opportunities for points. In such a competition, barring a time limit or other rules imposed by the organizers, a smart gamer would never have left level 1-2 and its infinite Goomba pipes.
    • To make the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles scene even funnier, Siskel & Ebert admitted to not being big on the gaming scene then proceeded to point out flaws even they noticed. Ebert commented that he had in fact played TMNT and made it to level 2, thus making it very clear to him that despite claims of being on level 3, they were really still on level 1.
  • While in the book it was never shown, the movie adaptation of Diary of a Wimpy Kid shows the fictional "Twisted Wizard" game, and is... well... Superman 64 with dragons, multiplayer, and, of course, Pac-Man sound effects. On Wii. It's apparently played by just randomly tilting the Wii Remote back and forth without actually pressing any of the buttons.
  • Mild case: In The Avengers (2012), Tony Stark points out that one of the Helicarrier's crewmen is playing Galaga. When he leaves, the crewman looks around and then goes back to his game. When he does, the sound of a tractor beam can be heard, but there aren't any on the screen.
  • In Men, Women & Children, one of the characters has their Guild Wars 2 subscription fee cancelled by their parent (which becomes a fairly important plot point). The only problem is that game has no subscription fees. This is a particularly egregious example as the biggest selling point of the original Guild Wars was that it was the first big AAA MMO to not have a subscription fee, which its sequel obviously retained. One wonders why they didn't just use World of Warcraft instead, which is not only a better-known game than Guild Wars 2 (the best-known MMO in fact), but also one of the few remaining MMOs that does retain a subscription fee.
  • Somehow, Pixels — a movie entirely about arcade games — falls prey to this. It's a major plot point that one character uses cheat codes in old arcade games. The overwhelming majority of arcade games had no secret inputs for the player to enter, and the tiny handful that did never had effects that made the game easier to play; commands to actually make the game easier were done through "dip switch" settings that a player was very unlikely to have access to unless they owned the machine (and you could never secretly fool around with dip switches in a tournament with numerous people watching). Even less logical is these cheat codes somehow continue to work in real-life reenactments of the games, created by space aliens.
  • Superman III has the scene when the villains have successfully constructed their supercomputer and Supes is heading their way, they try to take him out with missiles, and the computer represents the battle with a rather nice Atari ST-esque render of Supes... Set to the sounds of Pac-Man from the Atari 2600.
  • In The Truth About Jane, an NES is played with a Master System controller.
  • In the 2017 movie Bigger Fatter Liar, the main character is supposed to be a teenage computer and video game genius, who supposedly comes up with an idea for an industry revolutionizing video game, and he gets his idea for it plagiarized by a video game developer. All throughout the movie the characters keep talking about how amazing and brilliant this game is and yet in the brief footage we see of it it appears to be a casual game in which your character runs around catching bombs thrown from a gorilla in the sky. The graphics for the video game are at least 15 years out of date and the actual game footage bears absolutely no relation to how the people in the movie describe it. This game is clearly not the sort that would revolutionize an industry, in spite of how much the characters gush about it.
  • In the 2006 film adaptation of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Mike Teavee is an addict to violent video games. During his introduction he is seen playing a First-Person Shooter game with graphics that are on par for the era, but the game is being played on an Atari 2600. Given the many other examples of bizarrely anachronistic technology in the movie it's almost certainly intentional.
  • Almost averted in Haunter where Robbie is shown playing the Atari version of Pac-Man with the correct controller, but with the arcade sounds.
  • Back to the Future Part II, in 2015, features a Wild Gunman arcade cabinet based on the NES game, which onlookers liken to a "baby's toy". In real life, the original arcade game was the Ur-Example of Full Motion Video, and the only NES-based version in arcades was on the PlayChoice-10 system, plus no version of the game put you up against every outlaw at once or awared a "Crack Shot !!" bonus.
  • The main character of Dancing Ninja spends some time early in the movie training his dancing skills on a Pump It Up machine that happens to be on the street for some reason. Despite using actual Pump footage (albeit with some girl superimposed on top), the dancing clearly has no relation with what's going on on screen. Also, for whatever reason they decided to replace the pads with a stage with flashing arrows (which are at least the correct icons), but there's only one set of arrows on the stage even when we see Double mode.
  • Are We There Yet? shows one of the kids playing Eternal Darkness: Sanity's Requiem while sitting in the backseat of a minivan, which would have been a rare setup for the time of the film, but the game itself is also making primitive sound effects.
  • Early in Mario (2018), Mario is shown playing a video game with a soundtrack of bleeps and bloops. Surprising, since later he and Leon play a 3D animated racing game with driving sound effects.


    Live-Action TV 
  • In the Full House episode "Stephanie's Wild Ride", someone plays a Fictional Video Game on a Super NES using an NES Max controller.
  • In an episode of Judging Amy, someone plays a cartridgeless N64.
  • Law & Order: Special Victims Unit created a game called IntenCity, an obvious Grand Theft Auto ripoff, to create a far-out story about games causing prostitute murder — Ripped from the Headlines, depending on who one asks. The game is 3D, but extremely lousy-looking. And short, for when the suspects are asked to play the game in order to measure their brain activity, the same 10 seconds of game footage is looped over and over, broken by close-ups of the suspect.
    • SVU, again, featured an episode centered around a fairly typical hack-and-slash dungeon crawler... and then subverted this trope like mad. The characters refer to the game having "levels", but use it to refer to levels of the game and the game hero's character level interchangeably, which does actually make way more sense than you'd expect. The sound effects correspond to the gameplay being shown — clashing swords, monster noises, and a triumphant horn chorus straight from EverQuest for leveling up — and it's Captain Cragen, the eldest cast member, who discovers a talent for the game and actually manages to beat it, and then uses their shared love of the game to talk to the main suspect, a kid who's obsessed with the game and has a bit of trouble telling fantasy from reality. Oh, and in one final subversion, the kid didn't do it. He was roleplaying the hero and tried to save the girl.
    • The second season premiere has a bad one, when Stabler and Benson question a person of interest outside of a convenience store while he's playing a light gun game. Said game cabinet isn't even on, and the two teens next to him are playing on anther machine, which clearly says NFL Blitz 2000 on the side. But instead of football sounds, we just hear random arcade noises, as well as the two just randomly wiggling the sticks and pressing buttons, before they just up and leave in the middle of their game as soon as Stabler and Benson walk away.
  • Married... with Children has one episode with a nerd playing an original Game Boy, mashing the buttons while arcade noises sound. When the Game Boy is broken, he pulls a second one out of his pants, immediately playing it with the same sound effects.
    • Minor example in one episode; after Bud borrows money from a loan shark to help Kelly and another classmate make a music video, the mobster sends a rather intimidating henchman to make sure the project goes smoothly. (Which it clearly does not, as Kelly and the other classmate can't cooperate with each other.) The henchman spends most of his time there looking up contacts for illegal organ donors on a laptop (what he hints he'll do to Bud if he can't pay up). In one throwaway joke, one of the backup dancers asks the guy if he has Mortal Kombat on it. "You kidding?" he responds. "I got the highest score in the mob!" While funny, no game in the Mortal Kombat franchise had, at the time, been available on a PC, and competing with other players for highest score is rarely the objective.
  • In the Everybody Loves Raymond episode "Homework", Ray and Robert are playing a fictional generic zombie FPS on PlayStation 2 (mashing buttons and all). Interestingly, a few minutes later, Robert picks up the console and leaves, and we can clearly see that it was not even hooked up to the TV.
  • House reprehensibly abuses this trope in one episode by showing House playing Metroid: Zero Mission on his Game Boy Advance SP... however, despite going close-up on the GBA screen several times, you very pointedly hear Pac-Man bleeps and bloops. He also makes the same mistake as in Jarhead of referring to numbered levels in a Metroid Vania. Maybe people just associate 2D with levels.
    • If you want to get really technical, the visuals suffer from a similar but extremely specific form of "Wrong for the sake of accessibility". In game, main character Samus can roll into a ball and download maps from statues. However, makers of the episode decided that the image of Samus being held in the claws of a big alien thing worked better as something recognizably negative (despite being something the player has to do to progress), complete with an "Oh, that's gotta hurt!" reaction shot from House. Never mind the fact that several hours of playing doesn't seem to advance House beyond the first thirty seconds of gameplay.
    • In another episode, House holds up a Nintendo DS to a patient's ear to see if he can hear it. While it is quite clearly playing the Morph Ball time trial from Metroid Prime Hunters (without any input from a player, interestingly enough), we hear the stock sound effects. Maybe the writers are Metroid fans, but the sound effects guys think it's just Pac-Man with better graphics.
    • During season 2, House is shown in his office playing MX vs. ATV on his PSP, and apart from the fact he's just trying to crash into a wall instead of completing laps, the sound effects are the motor sounds from the game, the music is just cut.
    • In another episode, this is done slightly less poorly: House is playing Ninja Gaiden II on an Xbox 360 with realistic sounds and button inputs. The only problem is that House seems to think that his goal is to kill the protagonist Ryu. Admittedly, as antisocial as House is, one could see him play a game just to kill the main character. It'd help if he was using the left stick and not the + Control Pad, though.
    • Another episode has the team treating a video game designer and even trying out his virtual reality immersion equipment for the game. It has some very good graphics and FPS views. This specific example is an aversion, but a later episode shows Foreman and Taub bonding over playing Xbox together (mashing buttons and analog sticks) while the exact same game footage plays on the TV.
  • In the Angel episode "You're Welcome", Spike is playing a game that's implied to be the original Donkey Kong, making comments such as "Gorilla with barrels" and "Stupid plumber!", yet he is clearly holding an Xbox controller. And we doubt that Joss Whedon has heard of homebrew.
    • The sound effects are right for Donkey Kong, and Spike's comments make sense in the contexts of the sound effects (however, Mario was a carpenter in Donkey Kong, not a plumber).
    • In "Power Play", Illyria and Drogyn are shown playing the same system while the rest of the heroes are away, and making bemused remarks to one another about the gameplay that clearly suggest they're playing a Crash Bandicoot game. What sounds do we hear coming from the unseen television screen? Pac-Man beeps and whistles.
    • In the first issue of the season nine comics of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Buffy's roommates are playing Mass Effect, which makes sense as Dark Horse Comics is behind both adaptations. The scene shown is an Asari fighting Collectors, Guns Akimbo, wearing what looks like Cerberus armor. They almost got it right with Mass Effect 3 multiplayer, except for the armor and Dual Wielding.
  • In one episode of ER, Dr. Kovac buys a brand new console. This is not only treated as a ridiculous and silly indulgence for a grown man and a sign of his deteriorating moral character, but features him mashing buttons to the same stock bloop-bloop arcade sounds.
  • The Australian soap opera Neighbours became infamous among schoolkids of the 90s for frequently showing one of the children playing a Nintendo Game Boy with no cartridge installed. This wasn't possible until Nintendo introduced the Game Boy Advance in 2001, which could load a game into RAM from another GBA or a GameCube.
    • This happened again in 2008. The child in question is still playing an original Game Boy.
    • Also in Neighbours, well past 2000, whenever a character plays a computer game, the sound effects are the distinctive background music and projectile-launch sound effects of Magic Carpet, a game first released in 1994...
  • Harry Enfield and Chums's "Kevin the teenager" sketch starts as a sweet kid who spontaneously turns into a stereotypical teenager. On his thirteenth birthday, he opens a present and pulls out a Game Boy. He exclaims that "Mario Kart is babyish!" Heaven knows why, as Mario Kart wasn't on the Game Boy until Mario Kart Super Circuit for Game Boy Advance. Even worse, he's clearly holding a copy of Wario Land.
  • Done by Feedback on Who Wants to Be a Superhero?. Despite his superhero identity getting his powers from video games, when asked to name his favorite game, he says Pong. However, he also mentions the Prince of Persia series, which is still going strong, so this may just be a nostalgia thing. (Or maybe he's just well aware of this trope.) Considering his official profile gets the details rightnote , Genre Savvy is more likely.
  • Mike from Power Rangers Samurai is apparently a video game enthusiast, but the arcade game he is shown playing in one of the earliest episodes displays crude graphics and sounds typical of games from the late 1980's/early 1990's. Contrast this with the source material (Samurai Sentai Shinkenger), where, in the premiere episode, Chiaki is shown playing Tekken 6: Bloodline Rebellion. Of course, it helped that Namco/Bandai, publisher of Tekken 6, also sponsors the long-running Super Sentai series.
    • In an online skit for Power Rangers Megaforce, Robo Knight is trying to get to a laundromat to clean the Rangers' uniforms. At one point he passes through a house where two kids are somehow playing a trailer for the series on a Nintendo 64.
  • In two separate episodes of Roseanne, a Super NES is clearly being played, complete with actual sounds and music from Super Mario World and using the SNES controller realistically. However, both times the games is misidentified. Mark states the game deals with "skulls and blood" while Roseanne makes a comment about saving a monkey princess, two things definitely not in Super Mario World. There are skull rafts and blood-red lava in the Vanilla Dome of SMW; this may have confused the producers of Roseanne as much as it confused Luigi in "Mama Luigi". To top it off, the music in at least one of these episodes is from the game's title screen, which never occurs anywhere else in the game.
  • Scrubs features Turk playing a game on the Xbox 360. The footage seen is from Unreal Tournament III, but the show doesn't seem to get its facts straight on anything, with the dialogue sounding more like they are playing Halo. Particularly hilarious is when Carla turns out to be the best player, but her actress obviously doesn't know how to hold the controller. Worst of all, the characters all explicitly mention that they are playing co-op mode on the same machine, but the screen clearly shows single-player mode in progress.
  • Life had an episode where the victim is tied to drug dealing, and the detectives figure out that he managed to store files pertaining to the crime on his Xbox. So they get the victim's sister, who they see making vaguely controller-like fiddly motions in the air for no good reason, to play through Prince of Persia: The Two Thrones until she gets to Level 10, which unlocks the files. Never minding the fact that the game itself doesn't have numbered levels, the people behind the show just decided to hack up footage from the game and randomly stick "level" screens between them to denote progress. To make matters worse, the player before the girl was brought in was shown dying a lot, even though one of the series' selling points is the ability to rewind time, and he claims the plot of the game is to, as he puts it, "Save the Princess, Farah", when Farah actually assists the player for a good portion of the game and doesn't need rescuing. (At least they got the name right.) To top it all off, there are plenty of easier, more accessible ways to hide files and easier, more accessible ways to get them back off the console. This, coupled with a lot of erroneous remarks involving game systems being "just hard drives with games on them", as well as a couple of rather nasty implications about gamers being losers, leads to a very grating episode.
  • In one episode of Monk Sharona's ex-husband comes back to mend fences, and in one scene plays Kinetica with Benji. It all looks pretty straight forward until his character dies from falling off the race track, where in the actual game it just resets the player. Benji states that he has "3 lives left." The ex-husband leaving the game also doesn't affect Benji's play. All of these inaccuracies make the game seem more similar to an old-fashioned arcade game.
  • In an episode of some Disney TV show (Hannah Montana or That's So Raven), two people are playing a video game together. One person has a GameCube controller, and the other has an Xbox 360 controller. True, a PC can use both 360 controllers and USB-adapted GCN controllers, but it's unlikely that was the case.
  • In a 2001 episode of The BBC children's television program WATCH!, two kids play Super Smash Bros. Melee (which had only just been released) on a PlayStation (actually a GameCube).
  • A truly atrocious example appears in an episode of CSI: Miami, where a group of killers is linked to a GTA-esque game. Apart from the usual errors regarding "points" and "levels", the detectives determine that the killers are basing their actions on the game's plot. They ask the (fortunately local) game developer for details of the plot. Said developer refuses to tell them the game's plot, citing it as a "trade secret", and states that they will have to play the game to learn the plot, which they do. Apparently, no one involved with the show has ever so much as walked into a video game store, with prominent shelves of strategy guides proclaiming "all secrets revealed!" Or heard of GameFAQs.

    If that wasn't enough, at the beginning of the episode a group of kids rob a bank with machine pistols, and one of them is shot by Delko after he tries to rape a woman for "extra points". It's later revealed they specifically picked a bank with a cop present (again, for extra points), the PR guy (yes, there was only one) encouraged them (and provided the guns) to do it for advertising purposes, one of the suspects is found to have "gamed himself to death", and the token Girl Gamer apparently did it to get in with the highly elitist gamers.
  • In the CSI episode "Spark of Life", they manage to perform Pac-Man Fever with a cartoon. They show a small flat-screen TV playing a series of stock cartoon sound effects... with the opening of Aqua Teen Hunger Force.
    • Somewhat averted in another CSI episode, where one of the cases revolves around the death of an MMO player. The game shown, terminology, rankings and even a game-related TV show that sponsors a competition are a fairly realistic representation for what they show. The only problem? Someone forgot to let them know that there's a difference between a multiplayer, team-based shooter and an MMO.
  • Dexter:
    • Episode 6 has his girlfriend's son pick up a PS2 controller and start playing what appears to be Doom with Pac-Man sounds over the background music from Space Invaders.
    • A Season 3 episode has the eponymous Anti-Villain playing Halo 3 on the PC (which it wasn't available for until The Master Chief Collection was ported to PC over 10 years later), with completely foreign sound effects (including gunfire right out of Atari and an enemy "death rattle" akin to sound effects from TRON), and using only the keyboard (which is likely possible, but would be much more difficult than using a mouse to aim).
  • A Step by Step episode has the family's stereotypically nerdy son becoming a "video game addict," complete with an ending where he goes to a support group and has a psychotic episode in which he angrily screams "I ALWAYS GET THE HIGHEST SCORE!!!" before breaking down and admitting he has a problem. The game which drives his addiction (indeed the only game he seems to have ever played) is a generic looking Galaga doppelganger which was outdated looking even for the show's time.
  • There's a video poker machine in multiple episodes of Sliders that produces Pitfall! sound effects. At least they're in alternate dimensions.
  • One episode of Manhattan Love Story has Peter playing Killer Instinct on the Xbox 360. Good enough... until he reveals he was talking to another player on the headset and refers to him as "Blue Team Leader," something a one-on-one fighting game absolutely wouldn't have.
  • Played With in the Stargate-verse:
    • In the episode "Avatar" of Stargate SG-1, the graphical representation of Teal'c's virtual reality adventure was created using actual gameplay footage from Stargate SG-1: The Alliance, which was an FPS based on the show that was, sadly, cancelled without a release.
    • In the Stargate Atlantis season two episode "The Long Goodbye," John Sheppard is seen playing with a small handheld device while in the infirmary. According to the DVD commentary this was not intentional at all. Joe Flannigan (the actor) was playing video games between takes, and just kept playing when they decided to start filming. Nobody noticed until after the scene was shot, and they decided to keep it in. This became a Running Gag, and Sheppard would be seen playing with the same device throughout the series. What, exactly, he is playing is never revealed.
    • In the season three episode of Stargate Atlantis "The Return," Elizabeth Weir needs to distract Hollywood Nerd Bill Lee, so she tries talking to him about World of Warcraft. She knows nothing about the game, but he doesn't notice; they both get so much wrong about it that it seems very likely, although this could be wishful thinking, that this instance was Stylistic Suck for the sake of Rule of Funny. Every term Weir and Lee used appears in World of Warcraft, and yet every single one is used incorrectly ("Mage" is referred to as a species, Bill refers to having a level 85 character before it was possible to do so, etc).
  • A fifth season episode of Three's Company begins with Jack and Janet playing what is apparently Atari Football. The bleeping sounds are exaggerated both in frequency and volume, but that could be excused as it sets up a quip from Mr. Furley. However, looking at the actual system... well, it's an authentic 2600, too bad the cartridge is laying behind it.
  • Two and a Half Men:
    • Jake mentions that he wants to get the "new Final Fantasy game", and when he goes to a video store and gets the game, it turns out to be Final Fantasy X. Not only was the game about three years old at the airing of the episode, it clearly has the red Greatest Hits logo. And when he gets home and starts to play it, the battle theme from Final Fantasy II can be heard.
    • Another example is when Jake plays his DS with a high volume and Alan gets annoyed by the Pac Man sounds, he plugs the cable to Jake's headphones into the charge slot on the top rather than the standard headphone jack on the bottom. Alan must have been used to the GBA SP, which uses special headphones that plug into the charge slot. They also refer to that same DS as a 'Game Boy'.
  • Malcolm in the Middle. Mortal Kombat is discussed, and is played on an actual console that had a version of MK on it. Although there aren't really levels in versus fighter games, just opponents that use harder AI later in a game. Also, Sub-Zero has never been a final boss, except momentarily as one of Shang Tsung's morphs in the first game. There's also a scene where Reese is playing an original Game Boy without a cartridge.
    Reese: No one believes I beat the last level of Mortal Kombat.
    Hal: Because that's just ridiculous. No one beats Sub-Zero!
    • This could mean "no one has ever gotten past Sub-Zero to get to the final level/fight", though. In all likelihood, seeing Hal's role as The Ditz, he probably actually believes Sub-Zero is the end boss.
    • In "Charity", Double Dragon III: The Sacred Stones is mistakenly referred to as Double Dragon IV (which wouldn't even exist until 2017).
    • One episode had the boys playing a Game Boy that clearly had no game cartridge in it.
  • Chappelle's Show went recursive, with the narrator calling "You give me Pac-Man Fever!" a hilarious video game joke. Not to mention when he claims to know about gamers and the PlayStation 2, which he proves by doing a live-action GTA spoof with 8-bit sound effects.
    • It's averted somewhat with the skit where Dave beats a kid with cancer in Street Hoops. While there is a bit of button-mashing seen when they're playing, the skit featured actual footage from the game.
  • At the end of an episode of Murphy Brown, Murphy mentions that she and Frank still haven't beaten Mario 3. The scene comes so painfully close to inverting this trope: they both pick up NES controllers and when the game starts up, neither of them hammer on the buttons. But alas, the music that plays is not of Mario 3 at all, but instead that of Super Mario World.
  • An episode of Cold Case revolves around a fictional arcade game called Defector III. One of the detectives describes it as an RPG, then helpfully defines that as "Role Playing Game". When you see the game later, it is obviously a two-person fighter in the vein of Mortal Kombat.
  • An episode of Big Time Rush has a sequence where one tomboyish girl tries to avoid talking to a girly-girl she wants nothing to do with by hiding in the bathroom, playing video games. Sure enough, this is depicted as her randomly mashing buttons on a DS (that in all likelihood wasn't even turned on) as 8-bit music plays in the background.
  • On one episode of Lost Walt is playing a modern game (some overhead shooting game in a snowy setting or something) on a modern handheld system, and the sound effects are the classic Pac-Man ones.
  • In Glee, Finn can tell he's being affected by stress — he got killed on level two! Of, er, Halo 3, apparently. Maybe he was going for a No-Damage Run?
  • In an episode of the German crime show Polizeiruf 110, a criminal smuggles pirated copies of a game called Killman 4 into the country. When the police officers get a copy of the game and play it on their PC ("playing" here meaning doing nothing and staring at the screen) the sounds heard are an air raid siren, rifle shots and screaming children. Even worse, the cover of the game shows African child soldiers holding AK-47s.
  • iCarly's creators have used a pretty good (for something created specifically for the show) Guitar Hero or Rock Band-styled music games on several occasions. One major difference is it including the violin as well as more regular instruments. They must be playing The Corrs Rock Band or something. The next time it shows up, Carly is just playing Violin Hero and it includes bow power. They made a mistake however, with the notes still being hit when Carly stops playing to talk to Freddie when he enters. As the episode was Re-Cut into an extended version shown a week later, they had actually fixed the error after it was pointed out to them after the original airing.
    • There is one episode where Spencer gets addicted to a game called "Pac(k) Rat" which has 8-bit graphics and sounds, but this would be a Justified Trope — Spencer specifically said he got this game from the dumpster, it was mentioned several times that the game in question was rather old, and it's actually an arcade game. Bonus points as it is a parody of Pac-Man. It even has a (very unpleasant) Easter Egg: a dead raccoon.
    • There is also Drake & Josh. In one episode we see Helen's Groove Machine which is basically DanceDanceRevolution hooked directly up to her TV. Despite the fact that the screen shows displays for two players, Drake, Josh, and Helen are all shown dancing on the machine built for three people. Their dancing is also far more choreographed than usual for such a game and the icons moving on screen don't match up to their movements.
    • In another episode Josh is shown playing games on TV with what is clearly a Nintendo Gamecube controller and quickly switching between that and a Gameboy Advance SP playing both while rapidly pushing buttons. We can hear some of the sound effects from both and they are the standard "bloopy" sound effects from older games.
    • There is an episode where Drake is seen playing a new game system called the Game Sphere, first with an original Xbox controller, and the switching to what appears to be a wireless Nintendo 64 controller. In real life, no wireless controllers were ever made for the Nintendo 64.
    • In another episode Megan pulls out her "Pintendo GS" and starts playing it by rapidly pushing buttons, without appearing to even turn it on. We hear generic laser-firing sounds for a few seconds.
    • In fact, any Dan Schneider series is generally good about this, as they seemingly are set in a Shared Universe with the fictional Gamestation console.
  • In 2point4 Children, both Ben and David are avid gamers, with Ben getting addicted to the Fictional Video Game Ninja Badger. Like many teenagers, David is obsessed with violent, gory games, often describing them in great detail. This is all well and good until one episode shows that he's playing Final Fantasy VII while talking about how "the torture master ripped out my spine again".
  • Modern Family plays it nice and simple with Luke using a DS, playing a game with '80s beeping noises and high scores. And it probably wasn't Retro Game Challenge.
  • Law & Order: UK has a teenager using his Xbox 360 as an alibi for not committing a crime. Subsequent investigation shows that he was online at the time the crime was committed (not ridiculous at all), that he made three saves at three specific times (okay, real-world time is saved for a lot of games), and that he had to be the one who made them because the saves were password protected, which on the face of it appears to be this trope, except that you don't have to automatically sign into an Xbox profile, meaning that the saves could have been protected because he was the only person who was able to sign into his profile to save the games in.
  • While generally decent about video games, NCIS flubbed several moments in Kill Screen. To begin with the episode name, they propose that somehow an online MMORPG has a scoring system that causes it to crash. This is talked about like a common occurrence. Kill Screens don't even exist in video games anymore.note  Even if this did exist, the computer-savvy characters would more likely refer to it as simply a "crash."
    • In the same episode, McGee states that a witness held the high scores in multiple MMORPGs, a genre largely devoid of easily-tracked scoring systems. And when they do have leaderboards of some kind, they are often topped by players who dedicate most of their waking hours to getting there, making it unfeasible to top even different types of leaderboards (such as both PVP and PVE) in a single MMO, much topping multiples. The witness is shown to be mostly just your usual tech enthusiast, not the kind of all-hours savant that it'd take to realistically get on multiple leaderboards. Also, people can apparently tell that she has a twelve-core by a brief glance at her monitor.
    • In another episode, the kid of an army commander is shown playing a Nintendo DS, sound effects and all. The sound effects are indeed the ones heard when you turn on a DS; the one from the initial title screen, and the one from choosing a game to play. Unfortunately, that's ALL that is heard, as, for the next few minutes, the only sound effects are those two noises, looped ad nauseum.
    • The Season 10 finale shows Abby complaining that while she hates violent video games (she actually plays them with McGee all the time), she has designed a homebrew game to vent her frustrations at the Department of Defense special prosecutor, who is targeting Gibbs. The game involves shooting an effigy of him on her PC monitor with a NES "Zapper" Light Gun, which doesn't even run at the same frequency as a PC monitor.
    • The episode "Child's Play" actually uses footage (complete with sound) from the second level of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 as a "combat simulation" children in the Sattler Institute play to train on.
  • Clarissa Explains It All goes the opposite direction. Once per Episode, Clarissa will slap together a video game that she can use to vent her frustrations from her current dilemma. These games are graphically far beyond what could be done at the time, often using high resolution photos of Ferguson or her parents that rotate without any artifacts. Amusingly, both this style of graphics and the speed with which she can put the games together would make much more sense about 15 years later in Adobe Flash.
  • Dynasty Warriors 4 makes repeat appearances in The O.C., yet the characters always play as Xiahou Dun and refer to the characters as "ninjas" (that's Samurai Warriors, people).
  • An episode of Just Shoot Me! has Maya buying Elliott a PlayStation for his birthday, and mentions buying several "cartridges" for it. (The use of CDs was arguably the most defining feature of the PlayStation against the Nintendo 64).
  • Good Luck Charlie is very bad about this, as you can often see characters mashing Xbox 360 controllers to ancient chiptunes, and appear to have figured out how to play Wii Sports on a VCR.
    • Additionally, when Charlie's brothers bring a TV to their room, you can see two characters talking in a modern-esque game... with heavy metal rock and machine gun sound effects in the background.
  • Breaking Bad has one partway through its fourth season. Jesse Pinkman is seen playing Rage, which doesn't seem that odd except 1) The game wasn't out yet at the time of the episode's airing 2) It's clear he's playing a developer walkthrough trailer and 3) He's playing it with a light gun instead of a controller. 4) While Rage DID have a rail shooter adaptation, it was for iOS devices, not for consoles.
  • Ghost Whisperer, in the episode "Ghost in the Machine", centers around what seems to be a Second Life clone. While the graphics for the game, as it is depicted, are pretty close to on par with Second Life, the "graphics" when she jumps into the game (i.e. a live representation), are closer in quality to what a modern game would have than the game depicted.
  • A MADtv skit has former US President George W. Bush being distracted by a Game Boy when being asked questions during a presidential debate. His response is "I have a question for you. Have you played Super Mario Brothers? I'm in the water level and I can't beat the Kooper Trooper." Super Mario Brothers was released on the Game Boy Color and the use of "Kooper Trooper" is to make fun of Bush's Verbal Tic, so what's the problem? Koopa Troopas (nor Bowser, if that's who he's actually referring to) can't be found in water levels.
    • In addition to that, Koopa Troopas aren't something you have to beat and this would be especially true in a water level. You just have to get past them. There are levels where jumping on them helps you get across gaps and that kills them but no one would describe those parts the way they did and a water level couldn't have a part like that.
  • Frasier
    • In an episode where Frasier's son Frederick is visiting, Frederick is shown playing a Game Boy on the sofa, with no game cartridge in the system.
    • In another episode Frederick is shown playing a game with a Playstation 2 controller, but it isn't named and the only sound effect is a high-pitched scream played when the character dies; coupled with Freddie's vague descriptions of gameplay and story going on (they're in a training level where they've escaped from some sort of prison cell), it might well be any number of real games.
  • Some 90's sitcoms have the characters (pretending to) playing games using NES controllers (the NES was already fading in relevancy by the early 1990s), but the sounds are clearly from Donkey Kong for the Atari 2600.
  • Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles has John playing Gears of War with somebody. That he plays it by randomly hitting buttons is justified, since he's never played an Xbox before and is given no instruction. The fact that the two players are shooting each other in what's clearly a co-op campaign, however...
  • In the BBC3 series Coming of Age, one of the characters says he reached Level 14 on Final Fantasy XII. It might be a joke though, as the character in question is frequently portrayed as being Too Dumb to Live and reaching Level 14 in a Final Fantasy game isn't particularly impressive.
  • A scene in the US version of House of Cards has the main character Frank Underwood sitting in his basement, playing an online deathmatch session in a Call of Duty game. Although Call of Duty is a franchise of first-person shooters, Frank isn't using the thumbsticks or any of the triggers much, but is mashing the face buttons like a madman. The in-game footage shown is used twice in the same scene.
  • At one point in Heroes, Claire's brother Lyle plays something on a PlayStation Portable, but the sounds are from the arcade game Defender.
  • In episode 2 of In the Flesh Dean is seen playing Resident Evil: Deadly Silence on a Nintendo DS... with Atari 2600-like sounds.
  • The Middle came close in "One Kid At A Time", where the family is seen playing DanceDanceRevolution Extreme on beginner mode on a real cabinet (with dubbed over music and actual in-game footage)... except it has a DDR X2 marquee for some reason. (X2 was never released in the U.S. for "old" cabinets.)
  • The Big Bang Theory:
    • One episode has the gang playing a Donkey Kong version of Jenga, and they talk about DK having a son to whom he passes on his knowledge of "kidnapping princesses". The lady Donkey Kong kidnaps is not Princess Peach but Pauline, a regular woman who was once Mario's girlfriend. Peach wasn't even introduced until 4 years after the original Donkey Kong came out, and her usual kidnapper is Bowser, as anyone who's ever held a controller in their life could tell you. Additionally, Donkey Kong Junior is about Jr. saving his dad from Mario, with no damsels involved.
    • It's played straight again in another episode, where Sheldon's mom sends him his Nintendo 64 and he pulls out his memory card. A PlayStation 2 memory card to be exact. And the N64 rarely used memory cards, it had Memory Paks instead.
    • In another episode, they're playing Halo 3 and most of the things they describe actually sound like Halo but are slightly offnote . Penny says "It's raining you!" after killing Sheldon even though the game doesn't have dismemberment or even much blood (it was a grenade kill, so she might have described his character being launched in the air and falling to the ground). Also, when the guys play Halo, they do so with vigorous button-mashing, calling for help and reports on ammo usage despite the fact that Halo is a more precision tactical game and combat encounters versus another player lasts maybe 3 seconds. Also, many of the game sounds are wrong, most notably the plasma grenade.
    • On the other hand, Sheldon mentions playing Super Mario 64 on an emulator on his laptop, and when he repeatedly pauses to talk to Penny, the actual pause jingle from the game is heard. An episode where Sheldon mentions his World of Warcraft account was hacked has him mention actual items in the game that were among the things stolen, though he also makes reference to a "battle ostritch" (likely a reference to tallstriders, and Sheldon was using a colloquial term for them).
  • On My Name Is Earl, Darnell is seen playing a Pac-Man game with a joystick, on a very old-looking TV. On the other hand, most of Camden is still stuck in the late 80's or early 90's.
  • In Blue Heelers Tess plans to get Hayley a Nintendo 64 and Super Mario 64, and they are seen already up to Tall Tall Mountain, meaning either she is either the best video game player in the world (which Tess promptly disproves) or the writers made a mistake in showing a level that late into the game.
  • At one point in the Brit Com My Hero, Ollie the Superbaby is seen playing a video game. His parents call over to him, and he tells them to be quiet because he's almost reached "Level 9". As he says this, there's a shot of the TV with footage of someone playing Ratchet and Clank on it (complete with appropriate sound effects), a game which doesn't use numbered levels. Even if it did, the level seen is actually Veldin, the first level.note 
  • Justified in Halt and Catch Fire, which is set during the tech revolution of the 1980s. Unlike most examples of the trope, HCF's portrayal of video games, while not 100% spot on, is fairly accurate to the period.
  • The Sopranos: In "Meadowlands", the fourth episode of the first season, has Tony coming in to find A.J. playing Mario Kart 64 and then joins him in the race. We get the correct sounds, there is a cartridge in the Nintendo 64 and they consistently stay on the same track (Luigi Circuit); A.J. does a bit of button-mashing, but not too egregious. A.J. does mention to Tony that he should "watch out for the ghosts" and, while ghosts are one of the weaker items (and a non-avoidable one), they do at least exist in the game. To really nitpick, they complete all three laps of Luigi circuit in some 20 seconds (though the time shown on the screen shows a more realistic 2 minutes 27 seconds)! All in all a pretty faithful representation of Mario Kart on TV. Oh, did I mention that Tony holds the N64 controller one handed, using the central grip, only moving the analogue stick?
  • White Rabbit Project: In "The Granddad Gang" segment of the "Heists" episode, one part of the reenactment of the crime was animated in the style of a "8-bit video game" - with sound effects lifted from the notorious Atari 2600 port of Pac-Man.
  • One episode of The Tyra Banks Show features a married couple having a falling out because of the husband's World of Warcraft addiction. The "solution" to this? Have the husband take the WoW CD and put it through an extra-strength shredder! Except the CD only installs the game, and World of Warcraft runs on a monthly subscription system; to really cut himself off from the game he'd also have to uninstall it from his PC and cancel his subscription. And even if shredding the CD prevents him from reinstalling the game, what's to stop him from simply buying another one? Also a case of Technology Marches On, as the most common way of installing WoW nowadays is just downloading the game off of Blizzard's website.
  • Zig-Zagged in Dark. Bartosz invites Jonas to play video games with him, and the game shown is 1) actually suited for the system he's using (PS4) and 2) a real modern game that came out within a year of the show's debut. The problem? The game is The Surge, a game which is not a multiplayer and despite Bartosz' frantic cries of "triangle! triangle!" the triangle button would not have helped him at all.
  • iZombie episode 4 features two characters bonding over Diablo 3 in a weird mix of this trope and Shown Their Work-but-still-don't-know-what-they're-talking-about. One character gushes over the other's level 70 Demon Hunter in comparison to his level 66 Wizard - which are realistic levels but not really significant in a game where gaining 4 levels is easily done in one evening, if not less; comparing Torment levels or Greater Rift ratings would be more likely. Similarly, the items they name are appropriate to their classes, but it doesn't make sense for a player to worry about how "badass" his Exalted Orbit Stones are when he's still leveling up. And it's definitely silly for either one to be quoting the Attacks Per Second of a Windforce, as it's one out of a dozen interrelated stats, all overshadowed by the Legendary ability of the bow, and thus an absurdly specific thing to even remember. It's hard to tell if someone just cluelessly googled a wiki page for the weapons and picked a random number to throw into dialogue, or deliberately went extra campy to play up the characters' nerdiness.
  • A glaring Pinball variant occurs in an episode of Last Man Standing in which a pinball machine gets delivered to Outdoor Man by mistake, and Mike and Chuck, two former pinball champions, challenge each other to see who's the best. When the game finally happens, both of them do little more than randomly flip away, with the ball bouncing all over the table while the score rockets up at practically impossible speeds. Anyone who's even remotely familiar with even amateur-level competitive pinball knows that this is not how it works. Competitive pinball is a very slow and calculated affair, since not only do the players have to know the ins and outs of each game like the back of their hand in order to maximize the amount of points earned per ball, but they need to ensure that each and every shot they make is as accurate as possible. In fact, the kind of wild bouncing around the ball does on the show is something a true pinhead seeks to avoid at all costs, since it all too often leads to a drain. This is, of course, not even factoring in nudging, a pinball fundamental which neither Mike nor Chuck - again, both allegedly former unbeatable champions - does even once, making their pinball prowess come off like a major Informed Ability at best. To add insult to injury, you've got the typical chimes and bells coming out of a game that looks to have been made sometime in the late 70s to early 80s, a time period when electronic sound effects had long become the norm.

  • Machinae Supremacy is built on enforcing this trope. They're making 2010 metal with help from the Commodore 64 SID chip.
  • Herman Li, guitarist for DragonForce, often slips Pac-Man-esque wails into his songs, referring to them in interviews as "video game sound effects". You can also see the trope in action in the band's music video for Operation Ground and Pound. Note that both guitarists are actually gamers, the sequence was their idea, and Li actually owns the TurboGrafx-16 seen in the video.
  • Being a seasoned gamer and a lover of the classics, Lupe Fiasco purposely invokes the trope in his music video for "I Gotcha", in which he is briefly shown sitting on a couch playing Pong, 80s one-button joystick and all.
    • In the song "Go Go Gadget Flow" : "All me, no ghost no 16-bit like Sega GENESIS."
    • He mentions Atari a lot in his songs. Like in "Go Baby": But we go back like a set of Ataris...from baby fat til we skeletons, starring you is what it says on the marquee, so let's go give 'em a show!"
  • In Chamillionaire's "Ridin'" video, the lyric goes, "Next to this new chic she like cola, next to the PlayStation controller." But the controller seen in the girl's hand is clearly an Xbox controller. See it here (at 0:50).
  • LM.C's song John starts with various sound effects from Super Mario, e.g. the "Get coin" and "Become Big" effects.
  • People Under The Stairs has a ton of effects, references, and even the Konami Code in Gamin' on Ya.
  • In the video of the song "Ti amo inutilmente" by Italian singer Antonello Venditti, there's a point in the video with a shot of popular Italian Youtuber Favij playing with his cellphone... except that the game shown is Super Smash Bros. for Wii U.
  • Yellow Magic Orchestra's debut album features an intro and interlude track both titled "Computer Game", which predates Pac-Man, uses synthesizers to simulate the sound effects of early video games such as Circus and Space Invaders. The first of these two tracks was later combined with the album's cover of "Firecracker" for release as a single, simply titled "Computer Game".
  • "Computer Games" by New Zealand new wave group Mi-Sex.
  • The breakdown of BT's "Movement In Still Life" features sounds from Defender, Galaga'', and others. The "Mutant firing" sound from the former also appears in "Mad Skills - Mic Chekka" from the same album.
  • Information Society's cover version of "Praying to the Aliens" ends with a collage of arcade and Atari 2600 sound effects.

  • SiriusXM's "Decades" stations are each devoted to music from a specific decade, and the station identification bumpers are all designed to evoke a bit of popular culture from some point in that decade, be it a song, a movie, a TV show, or something else. One of these uses an 8-bit rendition of Koronbeiniki, which actually works fairly well as in between the various platforms (PC, Mac, NES/Famicom, Game Boy) and the staggered release schedule for different parts of the world (thanks, Cold War), nearly half of the years in The '80s saw at least one major Tetris release...or at least, it would if they weren't using it on The '90s station.

    Video Games 
Worth noting: that any appearance of this trope in actual video games can usually be assumed to be Stylistic Suck, similar to Artistic License – Film Production.
  • No More Heroes is notable for being a video game that actually uses Pac-Man Fever; it mixes exaggeratedly vintage video game beeps, chimes, and graphics with the more modern stuff.
    • God Hand does the same thing, but to a significantly lesser extent.
  • Justified in Grand Theft Auto: Vice City and San Andreas, which take place in the late eighties and early nineties respectively. However all of the games are extremely simple Endless Games although the "Degenatron" one (not playable in the game itself) is much more authentic in spirit of an Atari game at the time.
  • Bully averts this with more variety on the in game videogames you can play, including a 3D futuristic racer with contemporary graphics (which is a remake of an in universe top down racer that also exists in game).
  • Complete Me and My Katamari, and you'll be taken to an 8-bit minigame with a blooping version of "Katamari on the Rock", with the King commenting entertainingly on the graphics.
  • Doom 3 uses this trope. Apparently 20 Minutes into the Future on Mars, one of the games available involve punching turkeys to death, using graphics from the original Doom. Resurrection of Evil instead provides other simple minigames, but are still primitive.
  • The "Void Quest" dungeon in Persona 4 has wall textures, sound effects and a graphics style that appear as though is an NES era jRPG (even if it is in the same 3d as the rest of the game). Yosuke actually notes that it is "retro". The boss of the dungeon even attacks using the menu from the original Shin Megami Tensei
  • Each of the main Pokémon games feature Nintendo's current home console in the player's room. In the first generation, the main character has an SNES; although the N64 was out and going strong in 1998, this makes more sense for generation 1's original early 1996 release, especially since the Super Famicom stayed strong for far longer than its American counterpart. But what's bizarre is that FireRed and LeafGreen gives the hero(ine) an NES instead; remember that the games are set contemporary with Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire, where the protagonist has a GameCube. This is meant to promote the Classic NES Series, budget GBA Game Paks that ran an old NES game in an emulator.
  • In some of the WarioWare games, 9-Volt's and 18-Volt's stages take on an 8-bit look. When they do, they use only NES chiptune instruments in their background music. This is due to their being Nintendo fans, NES fans in particular, who also happen to be game designers.
  • In Sonic Colors, each set of stages in Game Land remixes music from the rest of the game to sound like they came out of an NES, though some actually more closely resemble the Sega Master System.
  • Shenmue allowed us to play on old games like Space Harrier either at the arcade or the Sega Saturn.
  • Conker's Bad Fur Day featured one of Conker's idle animations as him pulling out a yellow Game Boy Color and playing the GB version of Killer Instinct, immediately recognizable for its world-famous theme music. It also played sometimes Sabrewulf's theme, and Jago's theme from KI2 for no apparent reason whatsoever. In the Xbox remake, Conker: Live & Reloaded, the themes of Cinder, Spinal, Riptor, and T.J. Combo are part of the theme rotation.
  • This trope holds true even in life-simulation series The Sims. Any time a Sims character plays a video or computer game, the machine will make comically simple racing sounds or PEW PEW noises while the player is cheering and flailing around their hands.
  • Justified in Plants vs. Zombies 2: It's About Time, with regards to Arcade Zombie's arcade machine (a retro version of Plants vs. Zombies) and the 8-bit zombies it spawns during an 8-bit Jam. This is because he's fought in Neon Mixtape Tour, a world that takes place in The '80s where Arcade Machines were like that.
  • Played with in Time Splitters 2. In some of the levels, you can find Atari-style game cartridges as Mini-Game Easter Eggs, including a Snake-style game, an Asteroids-style shoot-em-up, and a Racing Minigame (which, incidentally, is hard as diamonds to play, not because the game itself is tricky, but because it requires getting a ways through the game's hardest level on the hardest difficulty to even access it). Whether it falls into this trope or not varies due to the game's Time Travel theme. The first example is justified, since the level it's found in takes place in 1990, when cartridges were still mainstream. The second one is found in the Cyberpunk future of the year 2019, but is in the possession of criminal hacker types who might conceivably enjoy retro games. The third one, however, is found in a robot factory in the year 2315, making the game cartridge in question over two centuries old, at least. Quite the antique. And this is ignoring the mysterious ability of the Player Character to even play these things on their 25th-Century uplink gizmo.
  • In Deus Ex: Human Revolution, various Non-Player Characters play a beeping handheld game (or a smartphone game) when bored.
  • A bizarre self inflicted case in Uncharted 4: A Thief's End. There is an easter egg when Nate plays a Crash Bandicoot level on a old PlayStation, and it involves him trying to beat Elena's high score (with an secret trophy if the player manages it). There is no high score mechanic in the actual release of the game done in the way depicted in the scene (in fact, the score screen is lifted from the box total screen).
  • In Fallout, which features fusion-powered cars, hovering robots and synthetic humans indistinguishable from the real thing, apparently the paragon of video gaming after a century of development were greenscreen text adventures, Space Invaders, Donkey Kong, and Missile Command.
  • Borderlands 3 has guns that sound increasingly 8-bit-like as you spend their magazines.

    Visual Novels 
  • The video game arcade scene in Daughter for Dessert (where the protagonist can take either Heidi or Veronica if he makes the right decisions with either one) features only games from the 80s, while Amanda and the protagonist play a game in a bonus scene with what looks like a Super NES control.

    Web Animation 

  • Sluggy Freelance :
    • Parodied in this strip. Kada refers to the game as "Super Graphical 3D Battle Area In 3D(tm)" and the game options offer everything from "battle smells" to "monkeys", but what we actually see on the holographic screen looks like crude black-and-white 8-bit graphics—specifically, arcade classic Berzerk.
    • Sluggy normally averts this. Older strips made reference to real games and systems. Later on, he switched to using obvious Bland Name Products of current systems (The Playstashun and the SuWii). The game that comes up the most often is Fashion Rancher and various spinoffs, most likely a reference to the Monster Rancher series, and possibly a Take That! at the Dead or Alive volleyball games.

    Web Videos 
  • In one lonelygirl15 video, the hopelessly geeky Hollywood Nerd is giving all the "regular" characters training. For the Playful Hacker who is the only one who finds him Beautiful All Along, it is revealed that her training is in... what's this? Frogger? Centipede? Aren't these... video games? How is this training?! But, as he is a Trickster Mentor, this is shown to be just what they needed to give them the edge. Of course, playing is done by holding a Jakks Pacific TV Game, a self-contained AA battery-powered device with only composite inputs for televisions, up in front of a (shown from behind) laptop and saying "Look out for the ghost! Turn right! OH MY GOD!"
  • Surprisingly, The Irate Gamer suffers a severe case of the fever. Any time he's shown using his controller he's Button Mashing or swinging it around like he's dancing. This is notably bad when he uses an NES controller for games that are obviously not NES titles. This is especially bad when he mashes buttons to games such as Mario Is Missing! and freaking Tetris.
  • Naturally, the Third Rate Gamer parodies this in the most exaggerated way possible; in addition to the above, the controller is always wrong (i.e. using a PS1 controller for a SNES game), and sometimes not even a controller at all (i.e. a pair of headphones or the case for the DS version of Final Fantasy III).
  • At the beginning of the TGWTG Year One Brawl, when The Nostalgia Critic notices The Angry Video Game Nerd, the Nerd is playing on a Nintendo DS, with background music from Mario, and sound effects from Pac-Man and Sonic the Hedgehog. Given that "he's the Angry Nintendo Nerd" and "the Angry Atari/Sega Nerd"...
  • In The Nostalgia Critic's review of The Princess Diaries 2, Hyper Fangirl distracts the Critic with a WWE game downloaded on the Playstation 3. The title screen shown is from the Game Boy Color version of WWF Wrestlemania 2000 and the music and sound effects are from the arcade game WWF Wrestlefest.
  • Invoked in a episode of ENN, where Jeremy Petter interviews a representative of Atari. When the rep shows him a commercial for The Witcher 2, it shows Paul holding a keyboard like he's playing Frets on Fire while playing a RPG.
  • In The Angry Video Game Nerd's review of Winter Games, he outright mentions this trope. The controls were so frustrating and unresponsive that he says the only way to actually win is to just randomly push buttons and hope something good happens. He then jokes that any time you see characters in a movie mashing buttons and pretending to play a video game, they're not pretending, they're playing Winter Games.
  • In the Australian web mini-series "#GameOn", "Star Warriors" is shown as a generic 3D space shooter, but when Joel turns off the PC he's playing it on, it shows a "SHIELD BEARER 9 HAS LEFT THE GAME" message over the game's background as opposed to simply turning the monitor off.
  • Discussed and spoofed in this TikTok, claiming that occurrences of this trope in movies is the result of out of touch middle aged writers knowledge when it comes to video games.

    Western Animation 
  • Glitch Techs: Zig Zagging. The first game that the main characters are seen playing in the series is a VR action title which is played in a serious e-sports tournament, and the creatures they face as Glitch Techs run the gamut across all generations of gaming, from 8-bit sprites to 3D models. However, the soundtrack and various sound effects are distinctly retro regardless of how modern the game itself is, and how much sense the games make varies.
  • Kim Possible:
    • The series defines video gaming as a favorite pastime of several characters, but all the games depicted on-screen are extremely old-fashioned. The only exception is a sophisticated MMORPG called Everlot (a reference to EverQuest), which is at the center of a whole episode's plot; scenes in the game are rendered in a different style but not a noticeably primitive one.
    • In some episodes, video game sounds are clearly from Super Mario Bros.
    • It should be noted that Ron and Felix discuss a game called Zombie Mayhem, arguing which is the best out of two or three, which fits as Resident Evil 4 was still a way from being released. Funnily, the second game didn't have flamethrowers. Resident Evil 2 did, Resident Evil 3 didn't. When Kim plays the game it appears to be more a hack'n'slash style than Survival Horror.
  • American Dad!:
    • The episode "There Will Be Bad Blood" (aired in 2010) has Steve playing a very old-fashioned console.
    • In "Morning Mimosa", Steve has what looks like a PlayStation with a wireless controller, but it sounds like something from the early 80s.
  • Futurama parodies this, with characters playing a dead ringer for the original Game Boy with Arcade Sounds... in the year 3000.
    • Not to mention, the "Gender Neutral Pac-Person" arcade machine in "The Series Has Landed".
    • In "The Birdbot of Ice-Catraz", Fry and Zoidberg are playing video games at Penguins Unlimited HQ. The sound effects sound like Asteroids.
  • The Jimmy Timmy Power Hour: Early in the first special, Timmy is seen playing a video game called The Decimator. It's in 3D and comes on a CD, but is played on a "Game Buddy", which resembles the Game Boy or Game Boy Color despite both of those devices being cartridge-based and completely incapable of such graphics. As for the gameplay itself, when Timmy downloads the game's files into Goddard, it turns him into a killer humanoid robot who blows things up to progress through levels (in both definitions, as he grows in size and consequently, takes on tougher subjects to a point where he indirectly menaces Retroville by targeting a factory).
  • Danny Phantom features Danny playing a game called "Doomed", a game that's part TRON homage, part FPS, and still (just like Doom II) uses the numbered level system. Most mind-bogglingly, it's a leveled online game which apparently gives the winner access to the entire Internet, despite being online in the first place, making it the equivalent of a needlessly complicated firewallnote . Quite possibly the only part of it which actually makes sense is Level Zero - a glitch level which isn't supposed to exist at all, and is impossible to exit once entered, much like an actual Minus World. The rest of Doomed is... rather nonsensical.
  • The arcade game in the Rugrats episode "Diapers and Dragons" seems to be a sidescrolling platformer (from what's shown before we go into Deep-Immersion Gaming) with Super Mario Bros. style music (and the objective is, of course, Save the Princess). A bit more advanced than the usual Pac-Man Fever, but still, in 2003? (And, of course, the babies are able to play it quite well by hitting buttons at random, but if the babies couldn't achieve things babies normally can't by hitting things at random, it wouldn't be Rugrats.) Of course, considering that no one ever ages in that show anyway (made absolutely ridiculous when baby Dil was conceived at the end of one season and born in the feature film released before the next season began — but the babies are not one year older when the new season picks up), we might presume that it's not 2003, but rather 1991, when the show debuted. At best, that's the dawn of the 16-bit era. The second and third movie seems to signify the sliding timeline is in the mid-to-late 1990s by then. That makes their video games only a bit old by the 64 bit era but nothing too unknown.
  • One egregious example appeared on an episode of The Secret Show. Everyone was buzzing about the popular new game system, "The Hand." It was simply a vat of "nano-goo" that users dipped their hands into, causing the goo to harden around their hands and turn them into portable game systems and controllers. Despite the ludicrously advanced technology the system is based on, it makes references to linear levels and only seems to play one built-in game. Single-game consoles weren't even made between the '70s and 2001, when Jakks Pacific introduced Plug and Play TV Games.
  • The Venture Bros. season 1, episode 10 "Are You There God? It's Me, Dean" has Pete White playing what can be inferred to be Grand Theft Auto III, due to the graphics on screen, realistic sound effects and Pete making references to doing "a drive-by mission for the Yardies" and being able to see player stats by pressing the Start Button... on what looks like a Nintendo 64 controller.
  • Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends occasionally features Bloo playing a video game that looks and sounds exactly like the Atari game Asteroids, and trying to beat other people's high scores. Somewhat justified in that the world of Foster's clearly isn't the world we know, but then again, Frankie has a modern computer and they do have their own versions of eBay and YouTube.
  • In an episode of Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog, Robotnik is shown fiddling with some machine controls while sounds from Super Mario Bros. are heard. Amusing considering the console war of that time.
  • In the Gargoyles episode "M.I.A.", Goliath and Griff see a British teenager walking down the street playing a portable game; the sound effects in it come from the NES game The Adventures of Bayou Billy. The trio are occasionally seen playing video games with rather primitive graphics, as well.
  • Whenever videogames appear in The Brak Show, they are always depicted in a very Atari-esque way.
  • An episode of King of the Hill plays with this, when a couple of school teachers make a Grand Theft Auto-clone themed around Hank to make fun of him, which also seems to have online functionality. However, both of those could be easily explained as a GTA Game Mod, but it's doubtful whether the creators were aware of that.
    • The two kids in question were explained as to designing and making their own video games, so assumingly they did all this from scratch (in a matter of days), so it's likely the creators were totally clueless. It does reach a humorous pitch when Hank is more upset about inaccuracies in how they portray his own work; such as the grills that make up the scenery having incorrect logos.
    • The episode plays around the controversy as well. Initially, Hank was upset about the violence present in the game but started to enjoy it once he found out that you can be a heroic vigilante instead of a ruthless criminal. If anything, they're aware of Grand Theft Auto's premise. Although, why the game developers are portrayed as hipsters is anybody's guess.
  • Justified in the Retro Universe of Regular Show, where basically all games are pre-3D, generally being either Atari or Master System-style.
  • Fanboy and Chum Chum: the only games seen in the show so far were arcade games and a digital pet, even though the characters have mentioned the Internet on at least one occasion.
  • In the "If You're So Smart, Why Aren't You Rich?" episode of Batman: The Animated Series, Edward Nygma has created a video game so popular that a multi-billion dollar theme park attraction is built based on it. When we see the actual game the graphics are only at Intellivision level. The gameplay is more akin to Interactive Fiction than a video game, and old school interactive fiction to boot. And this version of Gotham City is, if anything, 20 Minutes into the Future ... May have been intentional, since this would go with the anachronistic style of the show's take on Gotham City, where it's clearly the present day and modern tech abounds, but people dress like it's 1930 and TV is broadcast in black and white.
  • In "Dan Vs. the Mechanic", Chris and Elise are shown playing a video game whose actual graphics are mostly off-screen. Later, when Chris is playing it by himself, he is clearly holding the controller upside-down.
  • The Simpsons:
    • In "Revenge is a Dish Best Served Three Times", Milhouse wears a Power Glove that doesn't look quite like a Nintendo Power Glove.
    • In "Waverly Hills, 9-0-2-1-D'oh", there is a Wii instead of the usual Zii. There is also Halo on the Xbox, though the console has the form factor of an Xbox 360, and the game appears to have the HUD of Halo 2.
    • In "Moaning Lisa" Bart and Homer play a boxing game with controllers like the Atari 2600, but the graphics are closer to the NES.
  • Zig-Zagging Trope on Teen Titans. The male characters would frequently play video games in their downtime, which sported the same look as the animation in the show. In one episode, they were clearly playing F-Zero. On the other hand, one episode had Robin playing a Galaga-style shooter and totally flipping out because he beat Cyborg's high score.note 
  • Parodied in an episode of Strange Hill High: Mitchell is shown playing with a portable console with 8-bit graphics and chiptune sounds... and later in the episode, that console is referred in dialogue as a PlayStation Vita, of all things.
  • One episode of The Powerpuff Girls (2016) has the girls playing a game called "Dragon Wizard Skateboard Fighters". The console they play it on is a mishmash of the Xbox 360 and the Wii, and it doesn't have wireless controllers. Not much is shown of the game but it uses a point-system, the noises sound 8-bit, and the title screen is very 80s looking however the customizing scene is drawn in the series' normal style. During the climax scene multiple 8-bit noises are used in the fighting, combined with "combos" and "Game Over" graphics.
  • In one episode of New Kids on the Block, Biscuit plays a New Kids on the Block video game. The graphics are fine, but it sounds like something from the early 80's. The controller looks like an NES controller, but Biscuit holds it in his left hand and pokes it with his right hand.
  • One episode of Red Caps features the bad guy getting an amulet with the power of summoning videogame characters in real life. When he uses it against the heroes, the characters he summons are obvious parodies of Mario, Donkey Kong and a Space Invaders alien. And to add salt to the wound, the "Donkey Kong" parody is actually a pixellated Space Marine colored in brown.
  • In The Crumpets, Granny's laptop contains an assortment of primarily 8-bit (and bits of 16-bit) looking games with chiptune sounds and a digitized "Game over, you're dead" voice effect, not to mention they can be played with wireless controllers. Lil-One and Granny's avatars are remarkably detailed, as in this game in "CrumStep".
  • WordGirl: Whenever the kids play video games, they're using old Atari controllers.

    Real Life 
  • Hard to pull off a real life example, but: Penny Arcade's stock promotional shot of the two creators deliberately invokes this trope, showing Krahulik and Holkins flailing around on a couch, pretending to play a game. Holkins is holding a PSP as if it's a controller and Krahulik is holding an Xbox 360 controller upside down.
  • This news announcement about Grand Theft Auto IV, on RAI (the Italian national broadcasting company), featuring a guy furiously mashing random buttons DURING THE TRAILER. Obviously, they're talking about the game in "Seduction of the innocents"-like terms, because GTA4 doesn't have RE4-style interactive cut scenes.
  • Being into retro gaming can make this trope Truth in Television. Playing older games has only become more popular with time, thus it's not uncommon for people to play twenty- or thirty-year-old games often. There are also a lot of Retraux-style games being made that invoke this.


  • A Dr. Mario ad shows a game played with a two-player link cable, and some intense button-mashing, possible on a harder difficulty.
  • There's a battery commercial that features a kid playing what looks to be a (fictional) Game Boy Advance fighting game against his grandpa, and defeating him over and over — until his batteries start dying on him, allowing his grandpa to turn the tables. The notably true-to-life moment comes when we see the grandpa's character continuing to land sorta-registered blows even as his opponent falls, which seems to indicate that someone on the team, at least, was doing their homework.
  • An ad for The Simpsons: Bart vs. the Space Mutants shows Bart playing the game, excitedly tossing around while moving around the gamepad. This may be possible. The gamepad, however, is closer to a Sega gamepad. Though the ad is for the NES version, the game is available on the Sega Genesis.
  • In a painful to watch ad for The Legend of Zelda, one player is alternating left and right on the + Control Pad while hitting A and B quickly. This is not unreasonable for the game.

    Anime and Manga 
  • Episode 28 of Sgt. Frog shows Natsumi playing a game that's obviously supposed to be the first Dobutsu no Mori, better known in the states as Animal Crossing. A much later episode shows kid Keroro playing what is clearly Super Mario Bros., and few episodes after that, we get one about the characters entering a RPG that is very clearly a Dragon Quest parody. That first one got spoofed in the dub, where Fuyuki asks what she's playing because he's never seen that GameCube game before.
  • Shigofumi does a wonderful subversion of this trope. In ep 10, a young girl, obsessed with playing a very accurate — though genericized, of course — depiction of Animal Crossing, bonds with a thirty-something otaku, pondering the meaninglessness of his life after a cancer diagnosis, over the game which the otaku, in fact, designed and programmed most of. The video game is shown to be a form of communication and a means to establish a friendship, rather than the hobby of pathetic shut-ins and socially maladjusted weirdoes.
  • Genshiken gets around this through judicious Product Placement: the characters play real video games spliced into the animation, most notably:
    • The then-latest Guilty Gear title, Guilty Gear: Isuka. Ohno, the resident Cosplay Otaku Girl, cosplays one of the characters. The opening sequence, in fact, features a clip of Sol Badguy performing a simple combo... and the music is timed to match the move. Be prepared to watch the exact same footage of Sol curb-stomping Jam over and over and over and over again, though.
    • Saki and Kousaka also play a very realistically-depicted Puyo Puyo match, complete with accurate in-game footage, as a plot point. Saki assumes from its colorful nature that it will be an easy-to-pick-up casual game, which it might be if played against an opponent of comparable skill level or a single-player mode with an intelligent difficulty progression. Instead, she plays against Kousaka, who has no concept of "going easy on the newbie" and destroys her with advanced strategies.
  • Lucky Star's video games are often fairly accurate parodies of real games (unless you count Arcade Sounds half the time when the characters play any console games); unsurprising, since one of the main characters is a game otaku. The OVA goes one-up with an RPG Episode rendered in full 3D with (of course) lots of snarking about various game mechanics. For an idea of how convincing it is, just go count the number of YouTube commenters saying that they'd play it if it were real.
  • Vaguely averted in Hayate the Combat Butler, where the Lampshade Hanging is Nagi deliberately trying out an old Dragon Quest lookalike (which is probably older than she is) and lacks any nostalgia factor for the old game.
  • In Cowboy Bebop: The Movie (which takes place in the future), the hacker Lee Sampson seems to spend a lot of time playing updated versions of old 1980s 8-bit games. However, this is explained by Lee, who voices contempt at modern games and idealizes the games from the early days of hacking.
  • In a late Manga chapter of Ranma ½, Ranma and his childlike teacher Hinako play what is obviously Street Fighter II on Hinako's Super Famicom, with Ranma's Ryu easily beating Hinako's Chun Li. This chapter was published circa 1994, during Street Fighter II's heyday; amusingly, several Ranma ½ fighting games were also released during this period.
  • Kure-nai has Murasaki playing on (and breaking) a DS, and the game is shown to be Phantom Hourglass.
  • In one of the final chapters of My-HiME, Nagi is shown playing a DS when the heroes confront him. He's even wearing headphones and using the stylus.
  • Great Teacher Onizuka is frequently seen playing a PlayStation (modern when it was made), and both made reference to Wild ARMs and showed footage of Ape Escape.
  • Hanamaru Kindergarten references Dragon Quest and Final Fantasy in the manga, and has Tsuchida-sensei playing a Nintendo DS. The anime (which has less leeway with copyrights) shows Tsuchida playing unnamed RPGs on a PlayStation-lookalike.
  • Houkago Play makes numerous references to the games the characters play even when the title is not mentioned or played off screen. Made even better when they make references to obscure things like soundtracks. You can actually figure out the titles if you follow the clues.
  • A Channel has a scene in the second episode where Run and Toru play an expy of Mario Kart Wii on two Wii Remotes. They appear to be using them accurately, even using the option to steer with motion controls. They also bother Yuuko by holding their remotes up to her head, but that's neither here nor there.
  • Pokémon: "The School of Hard Knocks" has Joe play a battle simulator that resembles the battle system in Pokémon Red and Blue, which was new at the time of the respective Japanese and American airdates.
  • Bleach has a character with videogame powers who plays with this Trope a bit. Though he plays really old-looking games and his powers usually activate as a bunch of pixels, he uses something that looks suspiciously like a PSP, and when challenged to do his best, he proves that he can, in fact, produce very detailed graphics and animation. It is also made abundantly clear that, to make his powers work, he actually has sophisticated knowledge of coding and computers.
  • A few characters in Ano Hana play a "Nokemon" game that's a clone of one of the first Pokémon games (which came out many years before this anime). They comment on how ridiculously old the game is, though, and are apparently playing it for the nostalgia. It's on the Game Boy Advance SP and seems to be parodying FireRed and LeafGreen.
    • Early on in the beginning of the first episode Jinta plays what looks like to be Gears of War.
  • Negima! Magister Negi Magi: In chapter 285, Evangeline is shown playing a video game. Said game is clearly Solomon's Key, and she's playing it on an accurately portrayed Famicom.
  • Doi from Wandering Son has a PSP if you look at certain panels. Anna and Maho are shown playing DS' and in an early issue Takatsuki has a PlayStation in her room.
  • Nyaruko: Crawling with Love! has an episode that opens with Nyaruko, Cuuko and Hasta playing what is clearly Mario Kart 64. The game itself is never shown, but the controllers, and their shouts of "Who threw that shell?!" and "The banana! The banana!" make it obvious.
    • The cast's console of choice seems to be the PSPs; in one episode, Yoriko and Cuko are playing one of the Monster Hunter games (evidenced by Yoriko's remark about using a sound bomb) and in another, Nyarko and Cuko are apparently playing Gundam vs. Gundam Next Plus (since Cuko mentions "Endless Defense", a tactic from the Gundam Vs Series regarded as unfair).
  • School-Live! is very up to date with its video games, though everything is a Bland-Name Product. The characters are shown owning and playing games like Mad Max and Splatoon.
  • Nate, Eddie, and Bear from Yo-Kai Watch are fans of a series called "Yolo Watch", clearly parodying the franchise itself.
  • Monster Musume occasionally shows the girls (especially Papi) playing Wii Sports. Later on, a piece of bonus art depicts an octopus girl playing (appropriately enough) Splatoon.
  • In Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid, several of the characters are shown playing a Dark Souls esque game; apart from being able to pause the game, it looks like a legitimate PS3-era game.

  • MAD's "The Lighter Side Of" often features kids who are playing video games on consoles that vaguely resemble actual ones. However, one strip shows a girl eagerly grasping the controller while the disk door is open.
  • Inverted in Ultimate Nightmare: Bobby is shown playing what looks like a current gen game on a regular old Game Boy.
  • An issue of Teen Titans Go! clearly has Robin and Raven playing a Nintendo 64 game. While not the newest of consoles it was just a few years old at the time

    Films — Animation 
  • Played with in the beginning of Toy Story 2. While the graphics are every bit as advanced as the movie's animation (and intentionally so,)note  the "game over" screen puts retro sounding video game music with just the two words "GAME OVER". Also, the system being played is a Super Nintendo Entertainment System (albeit with the Super Famicom/European SNES controller), which was more-or-less current when writing began.
  • Disney's Wreck-It Ralph plays with this, given the setting. The main character is from a faux Donkey Kong-era game, and a lot of the sound effects are classic arcade bleep bloops, but the crux of the plot involves visiting a variety of different Video Game worlds, at least one of which is basically Halo as a light-gun rail shooter. Ralph is even horrifically amazed at how much games have evolved since his own day, and of course it's played for laughs. The word "retro" is even mentioned, and is stated as "Old, but cool." The biggest difference between the movie's universe and the real world — aside from video game characters being secretly alive a la Toy Story — is that apparently arcades have never been displaced by home computers and consoles as the primary venue for gaming; hence, hot new titles continue to be released as increasingly high-tech cabinets. Arcade-only games even have their own TV commercials, which end with a plug for the nearest arcade that carries them.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In Congo, someone is playing Doom on the PC. They didn't mess it up or anything.
  • Wonderfully averted in Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, which is expected since the film contains many Video Game Tropes. In an early scene, one of the characters can be seen playing a Nintendo DS, with music from the Game Boy Advance version of The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past faintly audible. A Link to the Past DID have a GBA remake (it was originally on the Super Nintendo Entertainment System) and the trivia track confirms that the actor was actually really playing the game during that scene, as opposed to just pretending to play it. Later on, we see a Fictional Video Game titled Ninja Ninja Revolution, which actually looks like a believable arcade game, and is played in a fairly realistic way.
  • Similarly, in Simon Pegg's Shaun of the Dead, playing Time Splitters 2 (appropriately a UK-developed shooter game) on a PS2 is depicted accurately, aside from a "Player 2 has entered the game" voiceover narration added for the audience's benefit. Admittedly, Simon Pegg is a massive video game nerd, as any typical episode of Spaced will show you. Its also likely that the "Player 2" quote was probably added as a joke for an early scene:
    *Player 2 has entered the game.*
    Ed: Haven't you got work?
    *Player 2 has left the game.*
  • Tropic Thunder had Matthew McConaughey playing Wii Sports.
  • Reign Over Me features Shadow of the Colossus extensively. The original plan was to go with this trope, but the film's editor insisted on the aforementioned game, for character reasons.
    • They did refer to it as "Shadows of the Colossus", however.
  • In Going the Distance, the main character is playing an old Centipede arcade machine properly, even correctly using the classic 80s "put a quarter on the machine console to reserve my turn" arcade etiquette.
  • The film version of Night Watch had the Big Bad practicing for a coming battle by playing a fighting game with some sort of sword controller.
  • The Mexican film Duck Season is very accurate in depicting two 14-year-old boys playing Halo, with the TV even announcing "Slayer", the typical versus mode in the game, as they begin. The only unrealistic detail is the improbably frequent rate, based on the sounds, at which their characters seemed to die.
  • The 2010 movie Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief has one of the characters playing Modern Warfare 2, on an Xbox 360, playing online with other players, which is surprising, seeing that he lives in a forest full of mythical Greek god-children.
  • The 2009 movie The Hurt Locker shows Eldridge playing Gears of War while he talks to the platoon therapist, complete with the actual game sound effects and video. The only trouble is that while the movie is set in 2004, Gears was released in 2006.
  • The 1996 movie Swingers, featured the characters arguing over NHL Hockey '94 on the Genesis. They even referred to the lack of fighting in that version of the game, but that's made up for by being able to make Wayne Gretzky's head bleed. Ironically the game they were playing was actually NHLPA Hockey 93.
  • In Disturbia, we see Shia LaBeouf play a bit of G.R.A.W., complete with accurate graphics, sound, and on an Xbox 360, one of the systems this game was released on.
    • This trope is still in play, since he's playing a mission from the single-player campaign, when he's depicted as playing on Xbox Live.
  • The video game horror movie Stay Alive was quite accurate in its name-dropping, likely because they hired CliffyB of Epic Games as a consultant.
    • Still, they managed to mix up two games, admittedly in the same series. Early in the movie the protagonist's boss is asking about beating the final boss in Silent Hill 4, when he's actually describing the trick method of beating the final boss from the first game. This might have been done because such a trick only exists for the first game and the latest game in the series at the time was the fourth, so mostly this is nitpicking.
  • While the game shown in the beginning of Big was fictional, it was an extremely accurate representation of a common genre of game at the time the movie was made.
  • Lost in Translation has a scene set in an arcade game center in Japan; some of the games shown are Taiko no Tatsujin / Taiko Master and Pop'n Music; someone does a freestyle routine on the Pop'n machine.
  • In Four Christmases, a character is playing a game in one scene, and sounds from the classic Donkey Kong are heard... and then it is shown that he is playing with a Wii Classic Controller, meaning that he actually is playing Donkey Kong on the Virtual Console.
  • The Score has the main character (Robert De Niro) phone someone who is shown playing Quake III: Arena. At one point the kid pauses, so it's assumed that he's cursing bots, not humans (or the pausing would invoke this trope).
  • The title video game in Spy Kids 3D: Game Over uses levels and has no apparent storyline, but does at least look like a 21st century video game with 3D graphics and so forth. On the DVD Commentary, Robert Rodriguez says he had his sons play a lot of video games for him as research. Needless to say, this made them think he was the coolest dad ever.
  • The King of Kong is a documentary about Donkey Kong world records. There were embellishments and inaccuracies with the overall story, but the game itself was described well.
  • Towards the beginning of Zathura, the younger of the two brothers is shown playing Jak 3, not only with the relevant music and sound effects, but also showing him controlling it properly (i.e., he was actually playing the game). No surprise - Zathura was produced by Sony company Columbia Pictures, making this Product Placement as well.
  • In 3 Ninjas one of the main characters is seen playing Super Mario Bros. 3 on an NES in his room. More impressively, he's actually playing rather than button-mashing, and has made it to level 5-1 (whereas most examples of real-game footage shown in fiction tend to come from the first ten minutes of gameplay).
  • Jim Carrey was actually taught to play DDR for this scene in Yes-Man. For the more savvy players reading:
    • You can see him pull off some crossovers at 13 seconds in.
    • He's playing an actual DDR song, and a Konami original, to boot ("Hana Ranman," aka "Flowers")
    • He's playing on Expert difficulty, and has at least a 100 combo going when the camera shows the screen.
    • Of course, Hollywood has a creative way of making sure some of this Trope still exists, but it doesn't make the scene (or Jim Carrey) any less awesome.
  • Surprisingly, TRON doesn't have much screen time for actual games to outright invoke or avert this trope. Everyone at Flynn's Arcade seems to be using their controls properly, and Pac-Man sounds are justified, since the film takes place in 1982. Space Paranoids borders on invoking the trope, since its pretty obvious Flynn isn't really playing it, but keep in mind that those graphics are more advanced than anything else in the arcade.
  • Bringing Down the House. George is seen holding a DualShock 2 controller and he's not mashing the buttons. Listen closely and you can hear sound effects from a certain game about an elf and his ottsel.
  • Averted in Hitman. When Agent 47 runs through the hotel, he enters the room where two kids play a modern console game. One of the games the movie is based upon, to be precise. Although played straight in that two kids are playing a single-player game.
  • While there is an anachronistic 8-bit wrestling game in The Wrestler, it's used to demonstrate how the main character is caught up in the past, not because the writers think that's how all games are. The kid he's talking to even mentions Call of Duty, and is clearly bored by the 80's fossil Randy keeps on playing. The game itself is fake, but not entirely: the director commissioned two programmers to create a playable NES game for use in the movie just to fully avoid Pac-Man Fever.
  • The British horror-comedy Tormented (2009) has the characters play Gears of War 2 at a party.
  • There is a porn video where a girl is distracted by her boyfriend while playing Warcraft 3 (with the proper sounds). Of course, this is a Real Life style video. Well, Porn always liked technology...
  • When Columbus mentions in Zombieland that he'd spent the two days before the outbreak playing World of Warcraft in his apartment, the shot on his computer is distinctly the game in question. Specifically, his character's in the Silverwing Flag Room in Warsong Gulch.
  • Strangely, Real Steel has an inversion. Since this is set in the future, we see ads for the Xbox 720. However, all other advertisements we see in the movie have their current 2011 logos and slogans.
  • In Abduction we see Nathan playing Modern Warfare 2.
  • In Cool as Ice, we see Kathy's little brother playing Super Mario Bros. 3 and various other NES games, none of which involve the usual wild controller-mashing.
  • In Salmon Fishing in the Yemen, we see the British PM's kids playing Ratchet & Clank Future: A Crack In Time. The footage is totally accurate, and you hear authentic Enemy Chatter from the game... except it's from Dr Nefarious's Mecha-Mooks while in the area you show you're actually fighting Argorians. (Admittedly, Argorian Enemy Chatter would have probably upstaged any humor in the actual film.)
  • Super 8: Amidst the chaos of the air force taking over their town, when the boys break into the school, Cary wants to retrieve his confiscated Mattel Electronic Football game. Justified in that it's 1979 and the medium was still in its infancy.
  • Joysticks: All the games are real and portrayed as they actually existed at the time. Super Pac-Man, a not particularly well-known game in the Pac-Man series, is actually played at a tournament (which may confuse modern audiences not familiar with this particular variation) before its real-life release in arcades, and Satan's Hollow was also played. Both games were developed in the US by Midway (Pac-Man itself was made in Japan by Namco, but Midway developed a few sequels of their own), who sponsored the movie.
  • Showtime had Eddie Murphy playing the light gun shooter Total Vice competently for the few seconds its on screen. Interestingly enough, the game itself is so rare that these few seconds were the only widely known footage of the game for nearly 15 years. (The game ran on the faulty sucessor to the 3DO Interactive Multiplayer and it was produced in limited quantites)
  • Quicksilver plays Pong extra fast in X-Men: Days of Future Past, and plays Pac-Man extra fast in X-Men: Apocalypse. The implication seems to be his super fast speed is making the games go faster, though it would make more sense if the hardware or software has been modified beforehand to run faster and Quicksilver is playing sped up versions of the games.
  • An early scene in G.I. Joe: Retaliation has Duke and Roadblock playing a modern FPS on an Xbox 360 on shore leave, and Roadblock even lampshades how much better Duke is in real combat than in the game. Later, during the nuclear disarmament summit, Zartan disguised as the president is shown playing Angry Birds on his cell phone with realistic movements and sound effects.

  • In Stormbreaker, Alex gets a modified Game Boy Color (a Nintendo DS in the film version) and cartridges that not only have the games themselves but also provide the modified GB Color with useful functions. Two of these games, Nemesis and Bomber Boy (aka Atomic Punk in the United States), are actual Game Boy titles. Sadly though, Alex never uses the game parts of the cartridges.
    • In Skeleton Key, he gets a Game Boy Advance with a Rayman game that doubles as a Geiger counter.
  • Christopher Brookmyre regularly averts this trope, and several of his books not only mention various real life games, but also clan gaming, DS homebrew, and mods. Of course, his books will also contain nods to a number of games, as well as more general consideration of video gaming tropes.
  • In the second Darkest Powers book (which was released in 2009), Rae is depicted playing The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker on a Nintendo Gamecube while at the facility. She complains that it is outdated and says the workers have told her they'll bring a Wii for her soon.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Malcolm in the Middle was very current with its representation of The Sims as "The Virts". Sort of. It was actually a homebrew game accidentally discovered on a machine by Malcolm, presumably predating The Sims by a number of years. It was functionally similar though.
  • In Episode Five of Primeval, Connor plays The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, with graphics taken from the game, on an Xbox 360.
  • In Heroes, in a bit of Product Placement, Jessica and Micah are seen playing Heavenly Sword on the PS3; a game which, at the time of the airing, was yet to be released.
  • In Spaced, Tim is clearly shown playing Resident Evil 2. Actual footage of the game is shown, he holds the controller normally, and actual sound effects and music from the game is used. The RPD lobby music from the game is even used for that episode's title sequence. In the commentary, Simon Pegg, who played Tim, says that he was actually playing the game even when the camera didn't show the screen, because he and director Edgar Wright were sick of the above trope. He also plays many other games, including Tekken 2, Time Crisis, and Tomb Raider, which sometimes intrude into the 'real' world.
    • In a display of doing the research, when Daisy said something while Tim was playing, Tim pressed the pause button before turning to speak to her.
      • Simon also missed his lines quite few times because he got too engrossed in the game.
      • However, before Daisy leaves to go to the shop, Tim is clearly at the start of the game, having not even reached the RPD yet. When Daisy gets back, Tim is at the end of the game, in the run-up to the final boss battle of Leon's scenario. Either Daisy took hours at the shop or Tim is just ridiculously awesome at Resident Evil (an expert player can blow through one of RE2's scenarios in about an hour and a half).
      • Also, Daisy has a go at Tekken one of episodes. She is convincing as a non/infrequent gamer who, in willing the character to obey her commands, embellishes each button-press by shouting "Kick!" and jerking the controller to the side.
  • Shameless:
    • In the US version, there is a scene where Ian, Mickey, and Mandy play Halo: Reach together. Not only do they show actual game footage, they use the correct controllers, sound effects, etc. Apart from some sound effects not corresponding to what the actors are actually doing, overall, it is a pretty accurate portrayal. Hell, there's not even a hint of seizure on the actors' part.
    • In its original incarnation, the trope is played straight in the early seasons where sound effects from Donkey Kong are used by games played on an Xbox. In the a later episode, Liam has been taken into care and the Gallaghers manage to track him down by using Xbox Live's voicechat service.
  • Despite being released in the early 90s, Parker Lewis Can't Lose was brilliantly in-touch with video games. This was mostly relegated to cameos (Mario games, mentioning Altered Beast, showing Sega and Nintendo logos in shops), but one episode focused a lot more on them dealing with Jerry's addiction to video games. While still having a lot of humor, it took on the issue sensibly and intelligently, and ended in a way that showed that the writers had more insight into what video games were about then the vast majority of TV creators, then or since.
  • Sitcom The Big Bang Theory includes a number of stereotypical geeks who play stereotypical games — most notably, World of Warcraft and Halo. They slip up sometimes, but they do demonstrate that they do their research.
    • In episode three of the second season, Sheldon shows Penny the MMORPG Age of Conan, to which she becomes addicted. The game as well as the behavior of the players ("I'm AFK", level meaning character-level, enchanted armor etc.) is very well-depicted, with the Rule of Funny exception that, at the end, the characters mouths' moved in sync with what the players spoke over their headsets.
    • One episode opens with the guys preparing to assault the Gates of Elzebub to claim the Sword of Azeroth in World of Warcraft. Neither the location or the sword exist in the actual game. However, when Sheldon gets the sword and teleports out of the dungeon leaving the rest to die to the enemies, he snarks "I don't know why you're surprised, I'm a night elf rogue, don't you read the character profiles?", and that race and class do exist. Furthermore, afterwards, he asks if anyone wants to log on to Second Life and have a swim in his new pool.
    • In another episode, the characters are playing Boxing in Wii Sports, complete with look-alike Miis.
    • And in yet another episode, Sheldon plays Super Mario 64 on an emulator on his laptop. They even used accurate sound effects: when Sheldon pauses the game to talk to someone, they use the actual pause sound from Mario 64. How many non-geeks do you know who know what an emulator is?
    • On the other hand, playing Halo apparently consists of rotating the analog stick as quickly as possible while hitting buttons at random, though based on their comments and the sounds, they're playing some game called Halo that isn't part of the Halo franchise.
    • On the other end of the scale, in another episode Sheldon plans to play Zork.
    • Apparently Sheldon sucks at Mario Kart Wii. This makes sense when you remember Sheldon never learned how to drive, and his efforts on a simulator eventually involve him driving through a mall and crashing through store windows. Although how that makes him bad at Mario Kart is a mystery yet to be solved.
    • In one scene, the boys are playing Mario Kart, but don't specify or show which one. However, they're holding GameCube controllers and the music is distinctly Waluigi Stadium from the GameCube's Mario Kart entry, Double Dash!!.
    • In another episode, Howard and Sheldon are shown to want to play SoulCalibur instead of working on their project of getting more women into the hard sciences. Rule of Funny dictates that they both use female characters wearing very little in the way of clothing.
    • Sheldon decided to drown his sorrows in a saloon in Red Dead Redemption because a person like him wouldn't go near real alcohol. Not unusual, as there are plenty of people out there who role-play in single-player open world games.
  • Veronica Mars has characters playing video games that are recognizable as Gears of War and Mario Kart, although they are generally button-mashing and are playing Gears on an original Xbox, a feat no mere mortal could accomplish.
    • A Season One episode took the research even further; in order to reveal the fraud of a couple of game programmers, Veronica lured them in with promises to see "the new Matrix Online" before it was released. When the episode was aired, The Matrix Online was both still yet to be released and also anticipated.
    • It was distracting, though, that three people were gathered around, controllers in hand, to play what looked like a single/first person shooter. Also the fact that in the middle of the game Veronica was able to pick up a controller and start button-mashing immediately.
  • CSI: NY had an episode, "Down the Rabbit Hole", using Second Life. Where an assassin uses the program to get to her targets. However, just like South Park, some of the things shown on the show are misleading to what is possible to do in-game.
    • Another episode involved the professional gaming scene by way of a murder connected to a Gears of War 3 tournament. Details they get wrong include pressing 'X' to shoot and somehow finding the game from a mini-disc extracted from a hard drive.
  • NCIS featured an episode where the team was protecting a particularly Gibbsian preteen boy. To amuse him, McGee provided him with an accurately named Nintendo DS. Only problem? Judging by the sounds, the kid in question was involved in an intense and gripping session of Pictochat. The DS was brand new however, putting it at the point where Pictochat got used before it is forgotten.
    • NCIS was generally good with game technology. All (at the time of broadcast) current gen consoles and handhelds got namechecked.
    • In an episode McGee sat in what is essentially the NCIS command centre, playing Unreal Tournament with the boy he was guarding.
    • However, in an episode where a sailor is playing out his MMORPG in real life, Abby hacks the game to get his account name by storming the castle.
    • One episode has the NCIS team question a Japanese kid who just saw the criminal they were chasing. When the kid says that the criminal escaped in a Kuruma, Dinozzo assumes he just meant car ("Kuruma" is Japanese for car) until McGee not only identified that the Kuruma is a specific car in the Grand Theft Auto games (specifically III and Liberty City Stories), but also identified what real life car it's based on so they could put out an APB. The only flaw in this is that the car actually resembles more than one real life car, which would result in an APB going after several different makes.
  • The Dead Zone got it right in a way that would have been remarkable if it hadn't smacked of blatant Product Placement. A Christmas episode featured as its B plot Johnny Smith's quest to get his son a copy of Ratchet: Deadlocked, which is not only a very real game, but we see the game and its immediate predecessor Ratchet & Clank: Up Your Arsenal actually played in the episode.
  • There is a brief but surprisingly accurate shout out to Second Life in the fourth season of The Office (US).
    • Another episode features a storyline involving the employees at the Stamford branch playing the first Call of Duty. The actors were supposedly taught how to play the game before filming.
    • They know enough about Second Life culture to make snarky jokes about it:
    Dwight: "There are no winners or losers."
    Jim: "Oh, there are losers."
  • Nicely averted in an episode of Psych. In order to get on the good side of another police officer, a detective heads to her house on Thanksgiving with the gift of a Wii that he got as seized property during a recent drug bust. He proceeds to play Boxing in Wii Sports accurately with the woman's young cousins, using the punching motion controls and even getting too into it and having the kids complain about how good he was. It does however fall into cousin trope Hollywood Law. Unless he got it at a police auction for a completed case, taking seized property anywhere is a big no-no, especially with him being a By-the-Book Cop.
  • One episode of The Suite Life On Deck features several of the characters getting involved in a social MMORPG, similar to IMVU and the like; when footage of the game is shown, it's done in CGI, but not in a noticeably primitive way, and despite the lack of a HUD it could probably pass for a real game. There's even a Shout-Out to Cave Story at one point.
  • Chuck has the eponymous character and his friend play Gears of War; in another episode they play Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, complete with blatant name dropping.
    • The episode "Chuck vs. Tom Sawyer" was a mixed bag. The actual play of Missile Command was realistic, but its knowledge of how the game worked was deeply flawed. The "killscreen" referred to by the characters is actually more of a Non-Standard Game Over. And the programmer and company responsible for the game were portrayed as East Asian, whereas Atari and programmer Dave Theurer were both American.
  • In Season 2 Episode 9 of Knight Rider ("Soul Survivor"), the main character plays the new-at-the-time Pac-Man.
    • Pac-Man seems to be a favorite of KITT's; in the made-for-TV movie Knight Rider 2000, KITT complains to Michael in an early scene that he can no longer play Pac-Man due to his state of disassembly (to which Michael replies, "you're dating yourself, pal. Pac-Man's in the Smithsonian now.")
  • An episode of New Tricks had Jack Halford speaking to some college guys about the murder of an old flatmate of theirs. Throughout the discussion, they're playing a generic Point Blank clone on a Wii using the Wii Zapper. All the sounds, movements, etc matched up, although oddly enough the pub at the end of the episode just happens to have an arcade cabinet with the exact same game on it.
  • In one episode of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, the team has to investigate a game that looks a lot like Second Life. Turns out that the killer they're looking for has made a replica of one of his earlier killings in said game. It's on the side of a lake, and they need to find the real world-cabin, so Olivia has to yell at the owner to "Turn on the sun!" in order to determine which side of the lake. He actually hesitates before deciding between catching a serial killer and inconveniencing his players. Apparently L&O doesn't have Google Maps.
  • In an episode of Threshold, Lucas plays Halo in an unused conference room, having apparently brought his Xbox with him to Threshold. Molly comes in and surprises us with her video game savvy by giving him a tip on killing Jackals. Apart from footage that shows what is clearly multiplayer action, the game is portrayed accurately.
    • Hilariously, the ring in the first Halo orbited a planet called Threshold. So the guy in Threshold is playing Halo, which takes place near Threshold.
  • A Canadian TV show called jPod (based on a book of the same name) was really good at inverting this trope. The series takes place at a game developer called Neotronic Arts (the developer is nameless in the book, but it's made clear by some dialog and descriptions that it's supposed to be Electronic Arts) where a small group of programmers are working on a skateboarding game (at the time the book was originally published, EA had announced that it was working on Skate). Throughout the show, characters are seen playing an Xbox 360 (and properly, too. The game they're playing is Halo 3, complete with split screen and everything), and there are multiple shots of a Wii in the background. Anytime the game the characters are working on is shown, the rough look of it is explained away by saying that it's still in development and it won't look like that when the game is finished.
  • The IT Crowd averts this in the episode "Men Without Women", which opens with Roy and Jen playing Guitar Hero 2. Music and sound effects from the actual game are heard, actual footage is shown and they appear to be playing correctly. Another character, Moss, incorrectly asks which "level" they are playing, although he later comments that he dislikes the game, so his ignorance may be excused. [1]
    • Another episode in series 1 shows Moss playing F.E.A.R. correctly, with left hand on the keyboard and right hand on the mouse.
  • In Da Kath and Kim Code, a Vatican City version of Grand Theft Auto is shown. It's surprisingly accurate, featuring a similar HUD and box-art, and appropriate sound effects. The graphics are also quite close, while obviously being fairly low-quality compared to the real games, they're nevertheless in the same style and about as good as you'd expect from a 10-second clip specially made for the show.
  • Somewhat averted on a clip from The Daily Show during their coverage of the 2004 Presidential election. While Rob Corddry is way too enthusiastic about it (and his controller isn't the one controlling the actions onscreen); they do correctly identify the game, Halo, though muted, the sound effects are indeed from the game, and they even correctly identify the gun being used.
    Rob Corddry: Where's your Alien Plasma Rifle now, bitch?!
    • He even correctly calls the enemies "Covenant Aliens".
  • Mostly averted in Packed To The Rafters. Ben and Carbo are often seen playing Gran Turismo with each other, their roommate/s and visitors. These scenes are complete with accurate visuals and sound effects. On the other hand, they suspiciously seem to play nothing BUT Gran Turismo. There's also an astonishing amount of button-mashing for a racing game (mostly from other people who play it though).
  • In Season 1 of Lost, Sayid and his friends play the PS2 port of Half-Life 1, possibly even preparing for Half-Life 2, which would be released later that year (2004).
  • An old Taxi episode, "The Unkindest Cut," has "Reverend Jim" Ignatowski (Christopher Lloyd) becoming addicted to Pac-Man after Louie has a game console installed in the garage. Several scenes show Iggy playing the game, with the actual music and sound effects heard. (Granted, this was circa 1980, ancient history from a gaming standpoint.) In the episode tag, he pauses between games, and declares, "I don't know why I play this game. Throbbing noises, flashing lights, monsters chasing you . . . I get enough of that in real life."
  • True Blood. Bill Compton occasionally plays a golf game on the Wii. It seems more or less correct.
  • In Gilmore Girls Lane's bandmates are often seen playing Soul Calibur 2 on a GameCube, and are actually playing the game properly.
  • Parks and Recreation has a group of characters playing Rock Band in one episode, and are playing "My Own Worst Enemy", a song actually in the game. In another episode, one character is playing Mario Kart Wii, using the Wii Wheel packaged with the game, and underturning it if anything (he could just be distracted by talking, though).
  • In Californication, Hank Moody, his daughter and her boyfriend are often seen playing Guitar Hero, playing with actual controllers on actual songs with actual gameplay footage on the TV — although the actors' movements might not match what's going on on screen.
  • "The Frogger" episode of Seinfeld averts this trope in a different way. It's about the eponymous '80s arcade game, on which George had gotten a high score as a kid, and which he wants to keep as a memento. Aside from the fact that you can't enter initials on that game's high-score screen, the episode's portrayal is totally accurate... and totally worth it for the scene of George carrying the machine across a busy street, with appropriate sound effects accompanying.
  • In the Smallville episode "Prodigal" Lucas plays a period-accurate video game with an appropriate controller. He does hammer the buttons, but his onscreen character is at least engaging in very repetitive and random actions so he may just be a terrible player.
  • In "TOW Ross Got High" of Friends, Ross and Joey are playing Twisted Metal 2 on the PlayStation; the game sounds correct and both of them use the controller accurately and not just randomly button-mashing. Ditto for Chandler playing Crash Team Racing, and when he stops playing to talk to Joey, his Crash character sits idle in the middle of a race.
    • And in a more literal application of this trope, there's the episode where Phoebe gives Monica and Chandler a Ms. Pac-Man arcade game, and the three of them become completely obsessed with playing it and beating each other's high scores.
  • Nicely attempted in Mr. Sunshine, where they use the Wii Wheel for Mario Kart Wii, and argue that Yoshi is useless in Peach Beach, which has a grain of truth since it's full of straight-aways suitable for heavyweights, though the cart selection is probably more important. Pretty good for someone who in-universe doesn't play games much. Like with the Friends example above, this averted trope was probably helped by Matthew Perry being an avid gamer in real life.
  • A 1999 episode of The Sopranos has Tony playing Mario Kart 64 with AJ, and winning by covering his face with one hand while holding the controller in the other.
  • In Good Luck Charlie, Gabe and his mom play a Brand X version of Wii Tennis. Granted, there's not much noise to a Wii Tennis game anyway (just some bouncing ball sounds and cheering).
  • Coronation Street varies wildly with this trope. Sometimes it features character endlessly button-mashing (or even just hitting the same button over and over as fast as possible) while 1985 "missile" sound effects repeat nonstop from the offscreen TV. On a PS2 controller. However, on a different occasion, David Platt was clearly seen playing Forza on his Xbox 360, complete with accurate handling of the controller, and showing the game running on the TV. Depends on the writer, it seems.
  • An episode in the second season of Seven Days begins with a young woman playing Doom. While the game was several years old by this point, that's still pretty good by TV standards. However, they still slipped up by showing it as an arcade game.
  • In Breaking Bad, Jesse is seen playing a version of Rage that only exists as an iOS version (which is an On Rails Shooter), and hes using a light gun to play it, which isn't even possible. Although he also plays Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing, which is the actual game.
  • The Community episode "Contemporary American Poultry" has Abed score the study group a PlayStation 3 and a copy of Modnation Racers. This is even more impressive considering the game wasn't even out yet at the time the episode aired.
  • Brooklyn Nine-Nine:
    • In the first Christmas episode, while Peralta and Holt are handcuffed together in a safe house, they are playing the best thing they can play with one open hand: Wii Sports, specifically Tennis. During that brief moment, Jake says it's his serve, we are given a camera shot that shows the TV, and we get to see Jake serve and him and Holt volley the ball back and forth until Peralta misses and Holt scores. Like most aversions, we are also given sound effects.
    • During an interrogation in another episode, Jake compares cracking the perp to defeating Great Tiger from Punch-Out!!. The perp replies that he's not that hard, you just have to punch him while he's dizzy. This is actually a valid tip for fighting Great Tiger (it's one of his secret instant knockdown conditions)... in the Wii version, which shows someone on the writing staff did their research. (Most references would use the more well-known NES version)
  • Surprisingly averted in Murder, She Wrote of all places. In one early episode, Jessica's friend Ethan is playing a Spy Hunter arcade game. When footage of the game is shown it is perfectly accurate, complete with the player's hands making movements and the vehicle on screen matching them.
  • Averted in "The Games Underfoot" episode of Elementary. It is about game named "Nottingham Knights" for the Emeryvision, which is an obvious reference to the Atari 2600 and E.T. The console looks realistic and the way the characters play the games is accurate as well.
  • House of Cards (US) has a couple nice scenes appealing to gamers in Season 3. Frank is inspired to hire a novelist who now does game reviews to write a reputation-restoring book about his marriage after reading his poetic and completely accurate review of Monument Valley. And then the guy introduces him to The Stanley Parable, also portrayed completely accurately until Frank dismisses it as "too much like my real life."
  • Kamen Rider Ex-Aid uses gaming as its overall theme and the basis for its heroes' powers. While it does use Hollywood Game Design and some anachronistic visuals and sound effects, those appear to be intentional design choices rather than ignorance about the medium — regarding the outdated visuals and sounds, the Rider designs have a 90's "extreme" aesthetic in general so retro gaming would fit right with that. The Riders' powers are Homages ranging from the broad to the specific; for example, Ex-Aid's main powers come from "Mighty Action X", a 2D platformer series that pastiches Super Mario Bros., Sonic the Hedgehog, and Kirby, while Snipe's Mid-Season Upgrade "Bang Bang Simulations" is a pretty explicit reference to KanColle, outfitting him with battleship "armor" like that game's ship girls and putting an admiral's cap on his head. It also helps that the franchise's Merchandise-Driven nature gives it ties to a real-life game developer, Bandai Namco Entertainment,note  meaning production has easy access to both people with first-hand experience in the industry and the rights to include actual Namco games and hardware on occasion - its first crossover movie even has Pac-Man himself as a guest star, a WonderSwan is occasionally seen in Flash Backs, and tie-in materials give the Riders powerups based on Namco classics like Pac-Man, Xevious, Family Stadium, Taiko no Tatsujin, and Galaxian.
    • There is one noticeable goof, however: a Flash Back shows the main character playing Tekken 7 in 2010, a good five years before it actually came out. Rather than an actual mistake, it's more likely that Bandai Namco wanted to advertise the then-upcoming console port of the game.
    • In a case of what is decidedly Not an Example, the aforementioned crossover movie's plot involves the movie's villains spreading an epidemic of a literal Pac-Man Fever. Even then, they get the details right — Ex-Aid can't beat Pac-Man on his own and needs assistance from Kamen Rider Ghost, since as any gamer can tell you, ghosts are Pac-Man's natural enemies.
  • 30 Rock occasionally showed Halo being played by various characters, and generally did a fairly respectable job at depicting it accurately, with the audio accurately matching the gameplay and the controller usage from the actors being somewhat exaggerated but still relatively believable. There are some inaccuracies if one wants to nitpick, mind you - a minor subplot in "Respawn" revolves around a match of Halo: Reach that goes on forever because the players keep committing suicide instead of actually letting the other players get the kill, which wouldn't work in the real game because suicides detract from the player's score. There's also a Story Arc in Season 2 revolving around Tracy Jordan making the first ever pornographic game - as anyone with even a passing knowledge of gaming history can tell you, that has been well trodden ground. This being 30 Rock, both of those can be attributed to Rule of Funny.

  • Ironically, the Trope Namer Pac Man Fever is an aversion, given the fact that 1) the sounds in question are from the video games in question, 2) they were, in fact, new at the time of the album's release and 3) the lyrics clearly show that at least one of the band members has intimate knowledge of them.

    Newspaper Comics 
  • Because Bill Amend is One of Us and a major gaming geek, this is often parodied or averted in FoxTrot (it once featured a comic parodying webcomics like xkcd).
    • In one strip, Andy (the mother) demands to see the video games that Jason and Peter play. Her first response is, "why is that monkey jumping on someone's head?"
    • Not to mention the Penny Arcade guest strip he did after PAX 2009.
    • Early strips featured both Jason and Peter playing Super Mario Bros., Jason bringing a Game Boy on a family trip, and the release of the SNES. Also, one sunday strip has Jason attempting to get a copy of Super Smash Bros. Brawl, and he regularly plays World of Warcraft (or, rather, WarQuest).
    • Also Jason's Long List of then-recent game releases (complete with Take That! at the then-still-Vapor Ware Duke Nukem Forever) in a later strip.
    • Jason goes into denial about wanting to play Tomb Raider because it featured a female heroine. (In the nightmare that follows, Lara Croft introduces him to Ms. Pac-Man who asks if he remembers her, causing Jason to nervously protest that he only played that game because it was the only one they had at a pizza parlor.)
    • One comic was about Starcraft II the week it was set to come out, mentioning its long release cycle and lampshaded Comic-Book Time simultaneously. Jason said he'd been waiting eleven years to play Starcraft II - but because he's only ten years old, he started waiting while he was in the womb.
    • Another one involved the Xbox 360's Kinect, demonstrated why you shouldn't play it with mosquito bites, and even included a fake achievement in the game Jason was playing.
    • One that deserves special mention: Jason pretending he's shooting portals at his sister in real life. The portal gun has the same orange/blue light that shows the last-fired portal in the game. Goddamn.
    • One strip that arguably falls squarely into this trope has the family computer going into "Sleep Mode" and having lascivious dreams about "Miss Tomb Raider", which stands out because as mentioned earlier Lara Croft had actually appeared in the strip. Either this was done for the benefit of readers who might not know "that big-breasted Tomb Raider lady" by name, or the computer was dreaming about the Tomb Raider program itself and not Lara.

    Video Games 
  • Saints Row 2 invert this in the same manner as Toy Story 2 above: You can play a zombie shooting survival minigame from a NES-like console in your crib; the minigame has the same controls and graphics as the game, although it has a desaturated filter to make the game feel like a horror game.
  • Likewise, the "old" games in Rextro's arcade use the same graphic assets as Yooka-Laylee itself.
  • Shenmue avert this, combined with Product Placement, by featuring period-appropriate SEGA games.
  • Yakuza series, the Spiritual Successor to Shenmue, also avert this, up to and including Virtua Fighter 5 arcade version as a fully playable game in Yakuza 6 and Yakuza: Like a Dragon.

    Visual Novels 
  • The video games that the protagonist of Double Homework plays, the sounds that represent them, and the descriptions of what’s going on in them point to video games from the 2010s.

    Web Comics 
  • Digital Unrest has had a couple of cracks at this trope: Here and here.
  • MegaTokyo makes lots of references to gaming technology that does not (yet?) exist in the real world, such as the PlayStation 4, Mosh Mosh Revolution ("Tohya, what's a mosh?") and a Robot Girl accessory for Dating Sim games.
    • Early in the strip's run (2001) characters are seen wearing PlayStation 3 paraphernalia, including a jacket with the line "Live in your world, Die in mine." parodying a Sony ad campaign of the time. Said character has been updated to feature a PlayStation 4 jacket. Sony developers in both cases were talking about developing said sequel consoles right as the current consoles were about to be released.
  • Lampshaded in this strip from The Inexplicable Adventures of Bob!. Bob just isn't a very "state-of-the-art" kind of guy.

    Web Original 
  • The Guild, consisting largely of references to a game similar to World of Warcraft (by a writer who was addicted to it for several years) obviously averts this for the most part. It seems like it falls into this trope, though, with Tinkerballa, who's constantly playing a Nintendo DS with old-school Super Mario Bros. sounds.
  • The Angry Video Game Nerd, where some shots show him using the controller while also showing the screen, usually to point out how delayed or confusing the controls are in a game.
    • Also parodied in the Ninja Gaiden episode, where the ninja can play well because he can press the buttons really fast, and never stops Button Mashing while playing the game. Although, this example seems to suggest that he's not randomly button-mashing, he's pressing the right button at the right time, it just looks that way because the game is so hard and requires reaction times that quick.
    • The Nerd also parodies this in the "AVGN Games" episode, released in 2013, where he says he was first alerted to a game based on himself back in 2008. The reason it took him so long to finally review it was because that's how long it took to load on his Commodore 64 (though when another game crashes on him later, he's forced to admit that it's just a joke, and he's really playing on a modern Windows PC). He also plays a smartphone game where he is a Guest Fighter on an old rotary dial phone.
  • Agents of Cracked - Swaim mentions emulation and Night Trap, and is shown playing Metal Slug.
  • JonTron parodies this in almost every review, frequently using the wrong controller to play the game, putting the cartridge in wrong (like putting the cartridge in sideways, throwing the cartridge at the console and missing, or standing the cartridge up and trying to plug the console into it, etc) and whenever the console is shown, it's frequently a bizarre mish-mash of incompatible parts. The last part reaches its zenith in his Minecraft review, where he apparently plays the game on an SNES with a the box for Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater in the cartridge slot, and a Gamecube controller taped to the controller port.
    • His review for DinoCity starts off with him trying to figure out which console it's played with, trying to use it on a DS, a PS3, a PC's CD tray, a wireless router and a dishwasher (three times) before realizing it's supposed to go with the 'SMBS'. Then he plugs the cartridge in upside down.
  • Also parodied by the Third Rate Gamer, where he's frequently using the wrong controller to button-mash his way through the game, and sometimes it's not even a controller, like when he starts playing Chip 'n Dale: Rescue Rangers with a pair of headphones.

    Western Animation 
  • South Park
    • The episode "Make Love, Not Warcraft" revolves around the real-life MMORPG World of Warcraft, complete with plenty of gameplay footage (part of it was Machinima). Blizzard lent a lot of assistance to make the episode (they're apparently big South Park fans) The episode, however, has many intentional inconsistencies compared to the real game — although, in a reverse example, Blizzard actually put some of the content from the episode into the game after the episode aired. Of course the fact that the gameplay footage is considerably more sophisticated than the South Park animation adds to the fun. Not to mention that their teacher is trying to teach them about computers using a lesson plan from the '80s.
      • Randy's explanation of his character sounds like it's deliberately full of stuff that doesn't make sense: "I just joined a big party of Night Elves, and we're going to explore the Tower of Azora together.note  I'm a Hunternote , level 2note . I've braved the Fargodeep Mine, defeated the bloodfish in Jerod's Landing...note "
    • Not to mention the Guitar Hero-themed episode, which depicts Stan and Kyle as being the first ever to reach "one million points!" Viacom appears ashamed of this clip.
    • Episode 1214, "The Ungroundable", had the kids playing the PC version of the recently released Call of Duty: World At War. It also included a reference to the "Flak Jacket Glitch", where a player using the Flak Jacket perk, which normally reduces damage taken from explosives, could not be insta-killed with either the combat knife or bayonet.
    • In "Whale Whores", the boys are seen playing Lady Gaga's "Poker Face" on Rock Band. At the time, the song was not available as DLC. In March 2010, four Lady Gaga tracks were released: not only including Poker Face, but a version with Cartman on vocals for DLC.
  • Played with in an episode of Arthur. Near the end, Arthur and company are playing a video game that touts itself as one of the best ever — up to and until the actual gameplay. SEE! 16-bit graphics that would look primitive on the early SNES! HEAR! 8-bit early NES-style music! WITNESS! Gameplay that would make Action 52 look fun! The general consensus among the characters is obviously along the lines of "what am I looking at?!"
    • In the episode, "D.W's Stray Netkitten", D.W plays an online game which looks like a VERY accurate depiction of WebKins, complete with the real-life stuffed animal that you buy in order to take care of your pet online.
    • Arthur in general is bad at this. It has many pop culture Shout Outs but the games never seem to get past the late 16-bit era at best.
  • The depiction of games on The Simpsons throughout the show's run have usually been close to current, although the show's long history means that the early seasons would appear to suffer from this trope if viewed today.
    • The game played by Bart and Homer in "Moaning Lisa" (1990) is similar to Mike Tyson's Punch-Out!! (1987).
    • "Bonestorm", as depicted in "Marge Be Not Proud" (1995), is named after BloodStorm and parodies Mortal Kombat-style games. Mario and Sonic also appear in the episode.
    • In "Yokel Chords," therapist Dr. Swanson attempts to gain Bart's interest with the popular video game "Death Kill City II: Death Kill Stories". Swanson and Bart button mash furiously, both swinging their controllers side to side, playing what is apparently a fighting game. A martial artist and cyborg fight each other, and both are dispatched by a sudden ninja attack. A missile then comes down and nukes the area. An announcer then says "You have destroyed all human life on Earth. Level 1 complete."
    • The Movie goes the other way: Homer plays Grand Theft Walrus, in a bar, on an arcade machine. In Alaska.
    • Another episode had Lisa becoming addicted to "Dash Dingo", an obvious homage to Crash Bandicoot which was released at the height of that series' popularity on what was clearly a PlayStation. Like in Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back, the hero is given instructions on gathering crystals via giant floating head.
    • The RPG Episode, with many of the townsfolk playing it. There were plenty of jokes like how silly it is to accept quests from strangers, Bart being a kid in real life but really powerful in the game, Moe wondering why he is paying $15 a month for this, etc. Granted, there were also departures from realism, but they were not greater then the show's usual departures from realism of the "real" town in comparison to real life. Overall, the depiction was accurate and faithful, even complete with a HUD accurate for MMORPGs. What's strange though, is that people in real life knew who each other's avatar equivalents were, perhaps because their avatars were identical to their real-life selves and even their personalities (like Moe being the Butt-Monkey).
    • And then there's the 2007 game, The Simpsons Game, which is an affectionate parody of several well-known IPs, and for the most part avoids The Problem with Licensed Games (fortunately).
    • In "Million Dollar Maybe" Lisa buy a "Funtendo Zii" for the old people's home, which was a pretty accurate depiction of the actual console.
  • The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy
    • In the "Chicken Ball Z" episode it is easy to recognize the game Billy was playing on his handheld by the sound effects — it's Wario Land II, probably one of the later levels, based on the music. Billy calls it something different, of course, and no visuals are shown.
    • "Opposite Day," the first episode to air before Cartoon Network officially picked up the show, has Billy and Mandy play an expy of Mario Kart 64. They seem to be using their controllers accurately, and the controllers resemble those found on a real Nintendo 64 (albeit with four prongs instead of three). Suffice to say, Grim is the only one that has trouble figuring it out.
  • The Powerpuff Girls
    • In one episode the Mayor is playing what is clearly The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, or a near parody, (albeit so badly that he "accidentally" kills his own fairy), which was a fairly recent release at that point. He's also holding what is obviously the Nintendo 64's iconic controller. Although if he killed Navi, he may not be so bad at the game after all. In addition, the music playing during this scene is a slow, atmospheric piece using Nintendo 64-style MIDI and sounds like it could've actually been in an Ocarina of Time dungeon.
    • Played straight in "The Powerpuff Girls' Best Rainy Day Adventure Ever", Blossom seeks out the other two after a long-since abandoned game of hide-and-seek and finds them using N64 controllers to play... Pitfall!.
    • In one scene a TV screen displayed a picture and played noise that was more or less pulled directly from one of the TV's in the GameCube release of Animal Crossing.
    • The opening of another episode saw Ace of the Gangrene Gang playing (and losing) a Powerpuff Girls Fighting Game that, although fictional, was depicted in a fairly realistic manner.
  • In ReBoot, the games that periodically threatened the characters were generally believable and fairly current for the time, though they generally used No Celebrities Were Harmed versions.
  • Fanboy and Chum Chum does use Arcade Sounds, but surprisingly, it's justified; the only video games or other forms of interactive electronic entertainment seen in the series (so far) are a virtual pet and an arcade game. The latter's status as a homage to old-school Donkey Kong makes its use of Atari 2600 Donkey Kong sound effects even more appropriate.
  • The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron, Boy Genius once featured an episode about a machine that allows people to enter inside a game of their choice, so Sheen obviously gets inside an Ultra Lord game. While the episode took some liberties for Rule of Cool, it actually manages to look like a real game of the time, including the portrayed life bars which get special effects as the characters power up, floating words pointing out P1 and P2, and even a start screen complete with "Start Game / Options".
  • One episode of Doug features Judy talking in an online avatar-based chatroom similar to IMVU, accurately predicting technology that would not exist until many years later. This probably was for the sake of Viewer-Friendly Interface, since it wouldn't be nearly as interesting to watch lines of text silently scrolling up the screen.
  • Largely averted in Code Lyoko. This is not surprising, since the relationship between kids and video games is a big inspiration for the series. The fictional video games discussed in the show are realistic for modern games (though rarely seen on-screen). The "penguin cup-and-ball" game played by Jean-Pierre Delmas does use Pac-Man music — but here it's more of a shout-out. One episode features Odd playing Tetris on what clearly looks like a Game Boy. It's even mentioned by name! It comes back later in the episode as an actual part of the plot.
  • One episode of The Batman showed Robin playing an online game that used the same animation as the show. Granted the game became part of Joker's plot, it also allowed an appearance of his future persona Nightwing, in his high collar costume.
  • One episode of American Dad! has Steve's X-Cube game system with these kind of graphics, but considering the system is supposed to be the expensive new thing, this is presumably a parody.
    • Some of the featured games of the show (Beetman notably) tend to have animations and graphics akin to the NES at best. However, one episode shows Steve and his friends (later Jeff and Haley too) playing a fantasy MMORPG. While the game isn't shown much in the "real world", the in-game scenes appear as a more stylized version of the rest of the show.
    • An entire episode was based around an Overwatch tournament (and at one point referenced mobile app Pokémon GO).
  • Averted in Family Guy: the end of one episode had Peter accurately playing Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 on an Xbox 360. And he has no idea how to play, which is played for hilarity - he gets taken out by a sniper while he is busy mashing the A button and hopping in place, and then he blows up a car, himself, and a few teammates with a grenade while trying to hide behind it.
    • Older games have also been referenced accurately in the works of Seth MacFarlane, due to his Author Appeal for the age in which he grew up. Tetris, Super Mario Bros. and even ColecoVision have been portrayed faithfully in his shows.
  • When Robot Chicken does a video game parody they usually do it correctly, only taking liberties for Rule of Funny. At times they can stretch it a little too far, but even then it's obvious that the creators have done the research.
  • An episode of Sabrina: The Animated Series had a game developed for Harvey to test where the graphics were so high-tech all the characters would look like people Harvey knew.
  • Most of the video games on King of the Hill are accurate for their time. In some episodes Bobby can be seen playing a Nintendo 64 or PlayStation; in one he is clearly playing one of the Tomb Raider games. The fictional in-universe video game Pro-Pain! (which Hank plays on a PC with an Xbox controller) appears to be a Grand Theft Auto modification.
  • Dexter's Laboratory:
    • The episode "Game Over" has the eponymous character and his sister playing a spoof of Primal Rage (which was only about two years old at the time). Later, when Dexter receives the Atari 2600-looking game Master Computer, he describes it as "a really old video game" that he'd already played and beaten years earlier, then proceeds to list the reasons why the games sucks to Dee Dee, citing stuff such as "No multiplayer, one mode of playnote , vertex graphics, that the guys don't even bleed". When he gets transported into the game, it has several Shout Outs to Tetris and Pac-Man, with a bit of TRON thrown in there for good measure.
    • A Season 3 episode has a short scene with college students playing what appears to be Mario Kart 64, complete with one of them referring to another player as Yoshi.
  • The Muppet Babies episode "It's Only Pretendo" has the babies playing lots of different video games, they are done in a Deep-Immersion Gaming style, but they are all clear references to real NES games like The Legend of Zelda, Frogger, Nintendo Track and Field, and an Adventure Game.
  • Adventure Time zig-zags this with BMO, a sentient robot who doubles up as a games console. The games he plays are very primitive, but it's unclear how much of this is down to the post-apocalyptic setting or BMO himself (he strongly resembles an original Game Boy). He's shown playing Super Hexagon at one point, so the staff can't be that out of touch.
  • Steven Universe is renowned for its lovingly detailed depictions of real game consoles. One especially nice touch is when Peridot creates a laser gun controlled with a Nintendo 64 controller, and when Steven says he's having trouble using it (on moral grounds), she misunderstands him as having problems with the analog stick and says "Then use the D-pad."
    • Steven himself owns a Gamecube (called a Dolphin in universe, the original codename for the system) and has some games based off real ones. This is an outdated console given the 2010s atmosphere of the series, but that's completely understandable given Steven's unique situation (being a gamer is not likely a part of his identity so he'd have no reason to upgrade hastily). The movie adds a Playstation 2 to his collection.
    • Zig-zagged in the episode "Rose's Room" when Steven plays a 2-D, top-down RPG which heavily resembles the very first Pokemon gamesnote , albeit about mini golf instead of monster collecting, on what's clearly a Nintendo 64 (up until 2019, all main Pokemon games have been for handhelds). The same episode also very accurately depicts the real life experience of being in the middle of an un-pausable, plot-relevant cutscene, which you have never seen before, only for your family to walk in at the worst possible moment, talking loudly over the dialogue and (unwittingly) blocking the screen, all the while trying to talk to you. The latter helps set the episode's plot in motion, as the incident causes Steven to want to go somewhere private where he can play in peace.
    • Sour Cream owns Game Boys, including the Game Boy Advance. But in this case, he uses them as part of a DJ setup to play chiptune-style music. This is also Truth in Television: actual Chiptune artists very often use a bunch of retro consoles, including Game Boys, either hacked or equipped with independent softwares like LSDJ, when playing live sets in the same way Sour Cream does.
    • Connie meanwhile seems to have modern 2010s games on her laptop like parodies of Civilization, Crusader Kings, and Age of Empires with a program that resembles Steam.
    • In the crossover episode "Say Uncle", Steven and Uncle Grandpa are at one point shown playing a game that resembles Super Smash Bros. Melee, albeit with different characters.
  • The Loud House plays with this from time to time. Examples include some of Lincoln's games including a Captain Ersatz of Grand Theft Auto on what appears to be an N64 cartridge and a survival horror game played on a pair of modern VR goggles that appears to have Intellivision-quality graphics.
  • Gravity Falls focused two whole episodes on retro videogames, and both times they made sure to do it right. For starters, both times they brought Australian animator Paul Robertson, best known on the internet for his elaborate, surreal animated pixel-art, to work on the game art. To further elaborate:
    • The episode "Fight Fighters" is a homage to Street Fighter and other old-school arcade games. The titular game is an Affectionate Parody of arcade fighting games, complete with a multi-national cast, an "American" martial artist protagonist called Rumble McSkirmish, and awkwardly translated dialogue ("DOCTOR KARATE, YOU KILLED MY FATHER AGAIN!"). It is played on an arcade cabinet, and it even has secret button combos (one of which brings playable characters into the real world). The episode itself is chock-full of retro video game references, like Rumble McSkirmish just needing to kneel in front of something to collect it, and a whole segment where the camera angle and Rumble's movement reference old side-scrolling Beat 'Em Ups like Double Dragon.
    • In season 2, "Soos and the Real Girl" features an evil dating sim, of all things. It too features awkwardly-translated text ("when the cherry petals of magic romance academy are in bloom... anthyding can hadplen"), and the game's interface looks like it could easily belong to a real dating sim.
  • The Amazing World of Gumball had an entire episode that was a very accurate Affectionate Parody of classic 16 bit JRPGs. Video games are generally depicted accurately in general, although like the rest of the technology in the series Anachronism Stew is at play.
  • One episode of Rob the Robot has the kids enter a video game that looks like a real licesned game of the series that wouldn't look out of place on the Nintendo Wii or even the Nintendo Switch. The graphics are smooth and mesh with the show's usual artstyle, and there is a lives counter at the top of the screen which goes gray as the kids lose the one life they are given, one by one.

Alternative Title(s): All Games Are 8 Bit


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