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Powerful movies about video games that will make teens think

In just a few short decades, the gaming industry has gone from its humble origins to one of the world’s most profitable industries. In 2020, the gaming industry was collectively valued to be worth a whopping $159 billion USD! The incredibly high value of the industry is a reflection of the highly impactful place that gaming culture has amassed in society.

And while there are gamers of all ages and backgrounds, the industry is still closely linked with the youth. Teenagers and college students, in particular, are some of the most avid players of video games out there, and a large part of the industry is dedicated to their demographic. Many students are even taking their love of gaming into their universities and writing a research paper or essay about video games. There are countless examples of the different approaches such an essay can take.

While some writers may choose to focus on aspects of individual games, others choose to focus on the wider impact that video games have on society. Just taking a look at the other giant of entertainment – the film industry – leads to many thought-provoking examples of video games and gaming culture. Here’s a list of powerful movies that feature gaming and offer food for thought!


Tron (1982)

One of the first movies to depict gaming culture, 1982’s Tron has become a certified classic of the genre. Immediately upon release, Tron gained a cult following that it has retained to this day. Telling the story of a programmer who is dragged into a virtual world and must defeat a malevolent software system with artificial intelligence to survive, Tron is a movie that offers both an engaging story and visionary visuals. At the time of its first release, many audience members weren’t familiar enough with gaming culture to understand its plot. However, it was critically praised and, fourteen years after its release, it was awarded an Academy Award for technical achievement. Watching Tron offers a great insight into how gamers of the past looked toward the future of the industry – a must-see movie for any gamer!


Ready Player One (2018)

2018’s Ready Player One features a character who designs a virtual world and hides access to it – only a truly worthy hero can inherit it. In place of normal high school education, teenager Wade Watts sets out on a digital quest to unlock this virtual world and gain a fortune. In doing so, he must overcome a host of adversaries that any gaming enthusiast will be familiar with. Aside from an action-packed adventure full of fighting, Ready Player One offers some thoughtful reflection on the relationship between social norms inside and outside of the digital sphere.


Ben X (2007)

Ben X is a Dutch-Belgian drama film that was released in 2007 and delves deep into the idea of reality versus the digital world. Like many unhappy people, teenager Ben uses his life inside a digital gaming world to escape the bleak reality surrounding him. While in the digital world, Ben is cool and confident. The central message of the film revolves around whether or not he can manifest this in real life. Ben X addresses the problem of escapism and wish-fulfillment through gaming and whether or not this should be considered a potentially harmful aspect of what it means to play a video game.


These are just three of the many movies out there that offer a study on video games, gaming culture, and the social and personal impact of gaming. This topic is becoming an increasingly common theme for movies and series to deal with and offers a great starting point should you want to write about gaming for your college research.



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