At least once a year in the UK on a Bank Holiday the film WarGames is shown, possibly the best film about computer hackers ever made, as the inspiration for films such as Hackers, Swordfish, Sneakers, The Net and others. The computers and technology in it may be dated but its still an excellent sci-fi computer movie.

Year: 1983

Studio: MGM

Director: John Badham

Starring: Matthew Broderick, Ally Sheedy, John Wood, Dabney Coleman, Barry Corbin, Michael Madsen.Trailer: IMDB.com


David Lightman (Matthew Broderick) is a computer whizz kid, the first of many computer geeks.

Despite how clever he is isn’t doing well in school and so hacks into the schools computer system to change his grades. He demonstrates his computing tom-foolery to his new friend Jennifer Mack (Ally Sheedy).

David see an interesting advert in a magazine about computer games company. He tries to hack in to find games that have not been released yet but stumbles upon something far more dangerous than a computer game, and starts a game that may end in the end of the world.


“Is it a Game….or is it Real?”

Background Information

The 1983 WarGames movie has been defined many times as a cult film. Starring Matthew Broderick, the story takes place during the peak of the Cold War: the Ronald Reagan years. 

The film builds on the public fear of nuclear war and the fears over the advent of new technologies that the general public did not comprehend at the time.

David Lightman is a young computer genius who can get by at school by trafficking his grades. While on a “wardialing” search for new video games he would stumble on an intelligent NORAD computer which will let him play a simulation of World War III.

Interesting Facts

  • The NORAD mainframe to which Matthew Broderick’s character finds a backdoor was called “W.O.P.R.” in the movie. In the late ’70s, NORAD’s central processor was named “B.U.R.G.R.”
  • Kevin Costner turned down the lead role for a part in The Big Chill (1983) which was eventually cut.
  • The computer used to break into NORAD was programmed to make the correct words appear on the screen, no matter which keys were pressed.
  • The NORAD command center built for the movie was the most expensive set ever constructed up to that time, built at the cost of one million dollars. The producers were not allowed into the actual NORAD command center, so they had to imagine what it was like.


WarGames has some fantastic quotes, so listed below are some of my favorites.

Mr. Liggett- Alright, Lightman. Maybe you can tell us who first suggested the idea of reproduction without sex.

David Lightman- Um, your wife?

Nigan- He does fit the profile perfectly. He’s intelligent, but an underachiever; alienated from his parents; has few friends. Classic case for recruitment by the Soviets.

Joshua- Greetings, Professor Falken.

Stephen Falken- Hello, Joshua.

Joshua- A strange game. The only winning move is not to play. How about a nice game of chess?

Other WarGames Links




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