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Template:Infobox Movie

This article is about the 1983 US movie. See also the British TV-movie The War Game. For games which simulate battle or conflict situations see Wargaming.
For the Colecovision game, see WarGames.

WarGames was a 1983 science fiction film written by Lawrence Lasker and Walter F. Parkes, and directed by John Badham. The film starred Matthew Broderick in his first major film role as David Lightman, Ally Sheedy as Jennifer Mack, Dabney Coleman as John McKittrick, Barry Corbin as General Jack Beringer, Maury Chaykin as Jim Sting (computer nerd), Juanin Clay as Pat Healy and John Wood as Stephen W. Falken.

The movie was a hit, costing US$12 million, but grossing over $74 million after five months in the United States. The NORAD set was the most expensive single movie set ever built up to that time, at the staggering cost of $1 million.



In the film, a hacker (Broderick) equipped with a 1970s vintage IMSAI microcomputer and modem (connected to the telephone by an acoustic coupler), inadvertently gains access to the NORAD military artificial intelligence computer system, called WOPR¹, that controls the United States' arsenal of ICBMs.

The teenager, under the impression that he has hacked into a gaming software manufacturer's computer database and unaware of the machine's real purpose, discovers what he believes to be a simulation video game called "Global Thermonuclear War" and begins to "play." Unbeknownst to him, WOPR sets in motion preparations for a real attack against the Soviet Union. With the aid of Stephen W. Falken (the machine's creator), disaster is narrowly averted when they visit Norad's Cheyenne Mountain headquarters and manage to teach WOPR about the futility of war by getting it to play endless drawn games of tic-tac-toe against itself which segue into cycles through all the nuclear war strategies that WOPR has devised. WOPR then learns that "the only winning move is not to play."


WarGames was promoted as a cautionary tale about technology and the dangers of leaving machines in control of unleashing destruction, in an echo of the Doomsday device of Dr. Strangelove. Like other "Doomsday" movies at its core is a false premise. In this case the idea that a closed loop system can easily be penetrated by someone with a dial-up modem. It also generalized the idea of the Cold War period in the 1970s and 1980s that somewhere there was a "button" that when pressed would nuke the whole world away (the button, marked "LAUNCH", had several prominent close-ups), and its final sequence graphically demonstrated the concept of mutual assured destruction (MAD). Like other "Doomsday" movies it was produced for and used for advancing one side of the debate on nuclear disarmament. Also, it was one of the first movies to deal with teenage hackers and their activities.


WarGames was nominated for (but did not win) three Oscars:


At least one computer/video game was licensed from the WarGames movie, published in 1983 by THORN EMI Video under the movie's name and the alternative name Computer War. It was released for the Atari 8-bit family and the Commodore VIC-20, and possibly for other platforms as well.

The user account "Stephen Falken" was present by default for a long time in the operating system NetBSD, in homage to WarGames.

The character of Stephen Falken may have been based on Ed Fredkin.

In Lasker, Parkes, and John Badham's commentary on WarGames, they mention that the role of Stephen Falken was originally written as an acting vehicle for John Lennon.


  1. WOPR = War Operations Plan and Response; in the movie, this computer system is running a program named "Joshua"

See also

...and these three terms actually derived from the movie WarGames

External links


it:WarGames de:WarGames


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