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Top 10 Movies Inspired By Video Games

VO: TT WRITTEN BY: Shane O'Gorman
Written by Shane O'Gorman These movies famously took inspiration from video games, and should be applauded as creative triumphs! WatchMojo presents the Top 10 Movies that Were Influenced by Video Games! But what will take the top spot on our list? Will it be Edge of Tomorrow, The Matrix, or Hardcore Henry? Watch to find out! Watch on WatchMojo: Big thanks to MattW128 for suggesting this idea, and to see how WatchMojo users voted, check out the suggest page here: WatchMojo.comsuggest/Top+10+Movies+That+Have+Been+Influenced+by+Video+Games

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The only thing these movies are missing is a controller. Welcome to and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 Movies Influenced by Video Games.

For this list, we’re looking at films that exhibit qualities, themes, or visuals often seen in the world of video games. Please note that we are talking about movies that feel like video games, not ones that are based on video games, so flicks such as “Doom” or “Prince of Persia” are not eligible.

#10: “Tron” (1982)

On a list about movies influenced by video games, it should come as no surprise that Disney’s 80s classic about being stuck in a virtual world would pop up somewhere! Although released when video games were still in their infancy, what had been established in the medium at the time is undoubtedly noticeable here. With a pixelated visual style akin to arcade games of the era, like “Asteroids,” and the many ‘beeps’ and ‘boops’ utilized during action sequences, “Tron” is about the gamiest a movie can be without being directly based on a game.

#9: “John Wick” (2014)

Mr. Wick knows how to clear a room like a one-man wrecking crew. Come to think of it, isn’t that sense of unstoppable power a feeling that most games try to give us? Much like Wick, we tend to take on multiple enemies at once in various environments, all building towards a greater goal. Furthermore, John Wick racks up combos as he swiftly moves from enemy to enemy, something that can also be seen in beat ’em up games and the “Batman: Arkham” series. Next time you watch the film, imagine Wick racking up points towards a high score every time he offs a goon onscreen. That scorecard is going to explode by the end… C-C-Combo breaker!

#8: “eXistenZ” (1999)

Much like “Tron,” this film revolves around people being sucked into a simulated reality, forced to play by its rules in order to survive. This is the tried and true formula for most games, particularly multiplayer experiences, where ya need to ‘git gud’ or get your butt whipped by the more seasoned players. However, the movie digs deeper into the psychology of gaming as opposed to just using it for aesthetic and story purposes. It questions how much we allow ourselves to become invested in these imaginary worlds, and how we need to realize that space is needed between the game world and our own. Games are fun, but it’s definitely compelling food for thought.

#7: “District 9” (2009)

Fun fact: “District 9” is the end result of a failed attempt at getting a movie based on the wildly popular “Halo” series off the ground. Director Peter Jackson got in touch with up-and-coming filmmaker Neill Blomkamp to helm the “Halo” movie, but due to various reasons, the production fell through. Not wanting to waste the time and effort they spent on developing the project, Blomkamp and Jackson (both avid gamers) made “District 9” instead, and many of the video-gamey elements one might see in a “Halo” film are retained here. Aliens, spaceships, mech suits, massive firefights, gravity guns… okay that’s more “Half-Life” than “Halo”…but it still proves our point!

#6: “Crank” (2006)

A guy wreaks havoc throughout a city because he was wronged by a bunch of really bad dudes. There are fistfights, shootouts, car chases, and other crazy shenanigans that all play out in an urban environment. Sounds like the plot of the movie “Crank,” right? Well, that description also works for a certain video game franchise, wherein you steal automobiles that aren’t yours on an abnormally large scale (hint, hint…it’s “Grand Theft Auto”). The parallels between these two series are unmistakable, and considering “GTA” first rolled in a few years before ‘Crank’ hit the streets, we feel the overlap is no accident.

#5: “Sucker Punch” (2011)

We bet director Zack Snyder has played more than his fair share of video games, and the proof is indeed in the pudding that goes by the name of “Sucker Punch.” For one thing, the movie is like… 1% story and 99% action, emulating how many games tend to cut right to the chase and get straight to the good stuff. Additionally, the visuals are an insane combination of elements from various genres, ranging from science fiction to high fantasy. This melding of styles is also something that’s often done in video games, with a solid example being the “Final Fantasy” franchise, whose clever blending of sci-fi and fantasy provides a real feast for the eyes.

#4: “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World” (2010)

Although it makes several references to video game franchises and culture - showing an enthusiasm for the medium as a whole - that’s not the only reason this contemporary cult classic is on our list. The movie (and the comic it’s based on) pits Scott Pilgrim against Ramona Flowers’ seven evil exes in order to win her affections. Call us crazy, but this reminds us an awful lot of a certain plumber who faced perilous danger and a series of lethal adversaries in order to rescue a fair maiden. Not to mention the fighting game aesthetic that permeates the battle scenes and resembles a PG-rated Mortal Kombat. No doubt about it; this movie’s a real knockout.

#3: “Hardcore Henry” (2015)

The filmmakers make no effort to hide the fact that video games had a huge part in giving this movie its style, as it’s presented entirely from a first person perspective, much like many of today’s popular shooters. Speaking of shooters, the movie’s story is pretty much non-stop action from beginning to end, with little ‘talky’ bits in between that feel like setup for the next big set piece, much like how a cutscene would function in an action game. Henry also acquires various weapons and power-ups throughout the film, boosting his fighting ability, as well as working alongside various comrades to even the odds. Co-op, anyone? And to top it all off, the movie ends with a boss fight.

#2: “Edge of Tomorrow” (2014)

Aside from sensational set pieces reminiscent of “Call of Duty,” perhaps the most prominent gaming influence in this sci-fi action romp can be found at the core of its plotline. After being exposed to alien substances, Bill Cage is given the power to ‘reset’ an entire day when he dies, allowing him to effectively retry whenever he screws up. Now what does that sound like? In games, failure is a common occurrence, and players improve by restarting and trying again. The same principle applies here, and it makes us wonder how much money Cage would’ve spent if he had to shell out a quarter to continue every time he kicked the bucket.

Before we reveal our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions…
- “Snowpiercer” (2013)
- “Act of Valor” (2012)
- “The Last Starfighter” (1984)

#1: “The Matrix” (1999)

Video games transport you into a fantasy world. You control an avatar with abilities far beyond your own, and interact with a virtual environment with its own set of rules. This describes both the act of playing a game, AND the general premise of “The Matrix,” in which people enter a digital world where they can do martial arts, become weapons experts, and “download” any knowledge they want to acquire. They can do and be anything in this virtual world, offering them a respite from the harsh realities of their everyday lives. And when it all comes down to it, don’t video games offer that same escape?

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