The Biggest Video Game References in Movies

With the popularity of video games not slowing down anytime soon, we’re starting to see them more and more in everyday life. This is sometimes in the form of characters on a t-shirt, large conventions, e-sports events or even as small references in some of our favorite movies. 

In the past, it’s usually been the other way round when it comes to these nods of appreciation. You’ll see many video games that include references from movies, including nods towards the Indiana Jones and Star Wars franchises, but there are also a few great video game references in movies to be on the lookout for. 

Take a look below where we’ve picked some of our favourite nods towards video games in movies that came to mind.

Shaun of the Dead

The cult classic horror-comedy film, Shaun of the Dead is packed full of great pop culture references – most of them, of course, zombie related. 

When it comes to video games, the two main characters are clearly big gamers from the beginning of the film to the end. Not even zombies can get in the way of a good gaming session in this film.

In a scene where Ed is playing a console game, we can see that he’s in the thick of zombie killing action in TimeSplitters 2. This is a little foreshadowing moment of what he’ll soon be expected to do in real life. There are also a couple more references to zombie games including Resident Evil and Zombies Ate My Neighbours.

We won’t spoil it here, but there’s also a heartwarming little reference right at the end of the film which caps it off nicely. 

Wreck-It Ralph

Now, we could have easily dedicated a whole article to the number of references found in this film. While some of these may have gone over the heads of the younger audiences, they were certainly a treat for their gamer parents. 

With references to Street Fighter, Pac-Man, Mortal Kombat and even Dungeons & Dragons, this film definitely requires a few re-watches to spot them all. Some of our favorite references include the “Bad Guys Anonymous” meeting which includes cameos from Bowser from the Super Mario series, Kano from Mortal Kombat, Doctor Eggman from Sonic The Hedgehog and a couple of the ghosts from Pac-Man. 

The inclusion of the famed Konami code also made an appearance in this film to many fans’ delight. This code is one that many gamers will be able to rattle off from memory and it’s always good fun seeing it in action, especially in a movie. 

Ready Player One

Of course, we’d be here all day if we mentioned all the pop culture references in Ready Player One. With Easter Egg references to movies, TV shows, music and of course video games, you’re bound to recognise plenty of them.

In terms of video games, there are references to Joust, Duke Nukem, Street Fighter, the Formula One games, Tomb Raider, Mortal Kombat, The Legend of Zelda, Halo, Borderlands, Dungeons & Dragons and Donkey Kong. 

During the big battle at the end of the film, you can see Tracer from Overwatch, Chun-Li from Street Fighter and even Lara Croft can be spotted in the background. 

There are no doubt a few more that we’ve missed out, so you’ll need to watch this movie with an eagle eye and a pen and paper if you want to spot them all! 

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World

While this fan-favourite film is based on a graphic novel, it too includes some great little references to video games and even has its own game that fans can sink their time into. 

One of the most notable video game references points towards The Legend of Zelda series. One scene, in particular, has the Fairy Fountain theme as Scott heads to the toilet which quickly turns into a dream sequence. 

Other themes from The Legend of Zelda can also be heard in the film such as the opening music to A Link to the Past and a couple of jingles from Ocarina of time. The Legend of Zelda isn’t the only game that makes an appearance in this film though, it’s well worth a rewatch to catch some of the references to Street Fighter, Final Fantasy and Pac-Man.


DC’s Shazam has a few video game references threaded throughout which makes sense considering it’s a film about a 15-year-old kid who suddenly gets the power to fight bad guys. At the top of the list are the references to Mortal Kombat. We can see at the beginning of the film that Shazam is playing Mortal Kombat X with his friend. 

Later on in the film, Mortal Kombat is mentioned a few times throughout – a prime example being when Shazam is fighting and his friend shouts the classic line: “Fatality!”

Other references in the movie include Street Fighter, which can be seen when Shazam shouts “Hadouken” when electricity shoots out of his hands. There’s also a reference to Fortnite which we can see when Shazam performs the Floss Dance while showing off his powers. 

Final Word 

The movies above are great examples of fun video game references you can find in the world of film. There are plenty of other examples out there, often placed by video game fans who work on the films themselves. 

It’s becoming harder and harder to discount the validity of video games as not just a source of entertainment, but as a genuine form of storytelling and cinematic art form. If you are looking for a way to experience them for yourself then be sure to check out either a console or gaming PC that will help you explore these ever-expanding and improving worlds.

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