As a once avid gamer, I'm compelled to mock the utterly boring experience that the "Arcade" game offered, while shake my head at what gets portrayed as the gamer's world. This is a movie for people who've barely ventured into a real arcade or picked up your PS controller (or to be fair to the film, a SNES controller.) If you're oblivious to the game world, then you may buy into it.
I could nitpick the "Arcade stealing souls and taking over the world" plotline or the technical general "eh" elements of the production, but I'd rather nitpick the gaming inaccuracies.
One - character design. You're hardpressed to find a game where the characters are dressed only in a wetsuit-lookin' outfit. Let's cut away from the typical anime-ish stuff that's expect from Japan with freaky colored hair etc--we have actors and a low budget, we can't redo their look from the ground up. Still, character outfits are usually more visually interesting than an all black wet-suit and motorcycle-wannabe helmit. The motioncapture artists wear this, yes. The characters in the game no. And typical female characters, regardless of genre, usually show a lot of skin. Whether the wardrobe department abided by this rule or not, I wouldn't have cared . . . even the hideous outfits the characters wore outside the game were more interesting than the in-game stuff.
Oh yeah, and as for "Arcade" himself? Heh, I don't think I've ever seen a game-last-boss design that stupid
Two - Interaction. Yes, there's Myst and 7th Guest and a Tetris of every imaginable flavor as well as other "puzzle" games, but for the most part in the gaming world you're up to your eyeballs with interaction. From blasting the hell out of zombies in Sega's House of the Dead, Slashing through the demon castle in Symphony of the Night, or bouncing through the colorful world of Mario, you're facing things/fighting things and/or constantly interacting with your environment. And if not, you're sitting through plot in an RPG . . . me personally? You'll find me over at the Soul Calibur machine and nowhere near that boring game featured in the film.
It's not the obvious blue screen that gets to me, it's the fact that they never do anything inside "Arcade."
Three - Typical games have a distinct look and feel to it - a certain game play style. Ridge Racer, you get in a car and do nothing but race. Mortal Kombat 2, you fight one other person and that's all you ever do. Dynasty Warriors 4, you constantly fight 500 guys, Tomb Raider constantly means exploration. And usually these games are the best at what they do. Occassionally you'll have a game that switches between game styles but it only has a handful of styles and ends up switching back and forth frequently. Why do film makers always make the games in their movies "action/adventure" games?
Four - once upon a time programmers would put cheat codes into their games to ease the testing phases and speed things up and programmers got lazy and left these codes (sometimes even debug modes) in the final product. Then as gamers found codes, it became common practice putting codes into the game. The movie Arcade fell into this era of gaming history. Now adays, they've implemented a "Beat the game x amount of times x amount of ways to unlock the things codes used to do" and dropped the codes.
Five - Granted Mortal Kombat only had 4 people on the team, the movie implies that the developer of "Arcade" is a big name company and this is their next big seller . . . the setup of the developers did not convince me of a blockbuster game development team.
Six - An all knowing game . . . BS! Sorry, watch eXistenZ to see what the game characters would really sound like. Even advanced AI wouldn't be able to know what this game knows and if it did we'd have freakin' Skynet from the Terminator films. Game AI is pretty stupid. It does what it's programmed to do and nothing else, and if a programmer didn't anticipate it then you just found yourself a loophole and a freeride.
Seven - Maybe it's just where I live, but Arcades don't look like the entrance to a bar . . . and before you point any fingers, yes I get the Alighieri reference and found it inappropriate. They're usually turned off at night and turned back on the next morning (each going through their own little boot-up sequence) via power strip to start a whole group at a time, and I've never found a home game that comes in an oversized shoebox.
Oh well, on the plus side it is interesting hearing Alan Howarth and seeing Star Trek's Q (John De Lancie) alongside Dr. Evil's son (Seth Green) in the same movie. I'd recommend eXistenZ for freaky virtual reality games . . . as screwed up as that world is, at least the nailed the in-game elements. Go figure.