Must-See Video Game Movies on Netflix


This Summer brings a movie we knew nothing about until seeing the previews before one of this Spring’s Marvel movies. Pixels, starring Adam Sandler and Kevin James, hits the theaters on July 25. The plot is accurately summarized by this Wikipedia entry:

In 1982, in the hopes of establishing peaceful communication with extraterrestrial life, NASA launches a time capsule into outer space containing images and footage of Earth life and culture. However, aliens misinterpret enclosed video-feeds of classic arcade games as a declaration of war. They attack the Earth using the games as models for their various assaults, including Pac-Man and Donkey Kong. Their technology creates three dimensional, holographic, pixels that change form and are capable of turning any form of matter into more of itself. President William Cooper (Kevin James) calls upon his best friend since childhood, former 1980s arcade champion Sam Brenner (Adam Sandler), who is now a home theater installer and had a previous relationship with Cooper’s wife (Jane Krakowski). To combat the video game characters, Brenner decides to lead a team of retrogamers (Peter Dinklage and Josh Gad) to defeat the aliens with various technology similar to those used in games.

While I anxiously await the release of Pixels, I realize that many of my favorite movies from the past have had a similar theme – video games. Mostly because they are part of pop culture and because I grew up in the age of Atari and ColecoVision. A good amount of these old titles are still available for streaming on Netflix, and I have also discovered a few current documentaries that are definitely worth taking a look at!

Video Games: The Movie

A feature length documentary, aims to educate & entertain audiences about how video games are made, marketed, and consumed by looking back at gaming history and culture through the eyes of game developers, publishers, and consumers. The film is not just another film about the games industry, but attempts something much more ambitious; the question of what it means to be a ‘gamer’, a game maker, and where games are headed. Storytelling and the art of the video game medium are also explored in this first of it’s kind film about the video game industry & the global culture it has created.

Atari: Game Over

An Xbox Originals documentary that chronicles the fall of the Atari Corporation through the lens of one of the biggest mysteries of all time, dubbed “The Great Video Game Burial of 1983.” As the story goes, the Atari Corporation, faced with an overwhelmingly negative response to “E.T.,” the video game for the Atari 2600, disposed of hundreds of thousands of unsold game cartridges by burying them in the small town of Alamogordo, New Mexico.

Video Game High School

In a futuristic world where gaming is the top sport, a teenager attends a school which specializes in a curriculum of video games in each genre. This is an on-going series with three full seasons available on Netflix!

Indie Game: The Movie

A documentary that follows the journeys of indie game developers as they create games and release those works, and themselves, to the world.

Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures

On the planet Pac-World, Pac-Man and his friends Cylindria and Spiral help to protect Pacopolis from the threat of Ghosts after the seal that locked up the Netherworld was accidentally opened. Pac-Man also has four friendly ghosts that surrendered and vowed to help him along his voyage (in exchange for being restored to the living world). For the whole series, Pac-Man vows to stop Betrayus and the ghosts (or any other bad guy) from taking over Pac-World while searching for his long-lost parents.

The Super Mario Bros. Super Show

From the popular video game, Super Mario Bros. The Super Mario Bros. Super Show features Mario, his brother Luigi, Princess Toadstool, and her advisor going by the name of Toad. They go from land to land try to save that land from the sinister Bowser Koopa and his band of goombas, troopas, and other villians from the video game. The show also features live action parts with the voices of Mario and Luigi, Captain Lou Albano and Danny Wells. Each episode also features a special guest on every show.

Computer Chess

In 1980, an annual gathering of teams of idiosyncratic nerds compete in a nondescript California hotel to see which of their computer programs can best the others at computer chess. A grandmaster presides as master of ceremonies with a videographer and microphone in tow. Clunky, primitive personal computers are carted from room to room. Bad haircuts, dorky shirts, “birth control glasses” and sessions on the possibilities of artificial intelligence are pursued.

And you can’t forget other great titles like Wreck-It Ralph, War Games, The King of Kong, The Lego Movie and more available via Netflix DVD. So start saving your quarters and get your video game movie fill online!

16 thoughts on “Must-See Video Game Movies on Netflix

  1. I haven’t enjoyed video games since Nintendo 64! I love older consoles like that and of course the original Nintendo, and Super Nintendo. I still have them! Which is why I love movies like Wreck It Ralph! They show all the old video game characters and it’s fun to try and spot them!

    1. Having grown up on an Atari 2600, I can totally relate. I’m sure Pixels will be the same way – looking for the old characters that our kids never knew!

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