6/04/2014

Source: WarGames
In 1983, a low-budget movie widely considered a simple teenage sci-fi thriller hit the screens. That movie was WarGames, about a teenager who accidentally hacks into NORAD and almost triggers World War III. The movie was a smash hit, and also had far-reaching effects on Hollywood and the world. Over twenty-five years later, it's still considered the benchmark of computer-related movies, and its message of the dangers of technology and advanced warfare are even more relevant. Here's a small sample of five ways this little movie had a big impact.

1. The Hacking Community - The initial impact of the movie was to give a huge boost to the phenomenon of hacking. Whereas most people saw WarGames as a nightmarish scenario, a certain segment of the population thought, "Cool, how can I do that?" Before 1983, hacking was mainly an underground hobby. But according to Bruce Sterling, the hacking scene exploded after the movie's release. Numerous real-life hackers, including such high-profile figures as Shooting Shark and Erik Bloodaxe have admitted that the movie inspired them to pursue hacking. A big hacker conference is called DEF CON in an homage to WarGames.

NORAD, Source: WarGames
2. NORAD - WarGames wasn't allowed to film or even photograph the real NORAD command center, so the producers created their own version of what they thought it might look like. It became the most expensive set ever built at the time, costing over one million dollars. Sadly, what they created was far cooler and more interesting than the real thing. In reality, NORAD's computer systems dated back to the 1950's. None of the monitors even had color. After the release of the movie, so many people who toured NORAD kept asking to see the "real" computers that they upgraded the entire system.

3. DEFCON - WarGames also publicized the DEFCON system, which most Americans had never heard of before the movie. DEFCON is the alert status issued for various branches of the military to indicate their combat readiness. After WarGames, no movie about impending nuclear war like Watchmen or Independence Day would be complete without someone announcing the DEFCON status.

US Congress, Source: Wikimedia
4. The Computer Fraud and Abuse Act - Before WarGames, most people had never even heard of computer hacking, let alone tried to stop it. But the movie so terrified the world that the U.S. government was motivated to try to stop it. Six different anti-hacking bills sprang up in 1983, and a clip from WarGames was shown in Congress as a "realistic representation" of the dangers of hacking. Within a year, President Reagan signed a bill into law with the sole purpose of criminalizing penetrating government mainframes like NORAD. Since its inception, the CFAA has been broadened to cover everything from terrorism to violating MySpace's terms of service.

President Ronald Reagan, Source: Wikimedia
5. Ronald Reagan - If that wasn't enough, WarGames reportedly changed U.S. foreign policy. In 1983, President Ronald Reagan's aides were trying to convince him to support arms control, but Reagan ignored all the detailed notes they gave him. Yet the Saturday before a big meeting with Democratic congressmen, Reagan saw WarGames at Camp David, and its anti-nuke message completely sold him on the idea of limiting nuclear proliferation.

What do you think of WarGames? What impact did WarGames have on you?

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22 comments:

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

There was even a movie called Defcon 4. (Not very good though.)
Funny that people asked to see the real Norad after seeing the movie. Sad when a movie set is more advanced than our government. Oh wait, that's probably the norm.
WarGames quietly came out and took the summer by storm. I still remember seeing it right before I went to college. I've never looked at tic-tac-toe the same way again.

LDianeWolfe said...

There's a conference for hackers? You'd think the FBI would be all over that one.

DAVID WALSTON said...

I remember seeing this in the theater, and it scaring me. Soon after this The Day After was aired. Shall we play a game?

Pat Dilloway said...

I didn't see it when it came out since I was 5. I'm not sure if I've seen the whole thing yet. But it figures a movie would help determine Reagan's policies.

Cyrus Palanca said...

Well, at least Fox greenlighted Deadpool here.

Day of Marvel said...

This is the best information about Marvel Rights.

The_Eternal_Dalek said...

Utter rubbish:

1. Skrulls are co-owned by Marvel and Fox (as with the Maximoffs), the Chituair thing was to honour the fact it was loosely based on the Ultimates. If Fox did have the Skrulls outright Marvel sure as hell wouldn't have the Chitauri.

2. Mutants are NOT owned by Fox, it is a real world term after all. Fox got a court order in the early noughties banning Marvel from using the word in live action productions, prior to this they had been using it without issue (see "Mutant X").

The_Eternal_Dalek said...

Kevin Feige has made it clear Universal cannot make a Namor movie, at the time of the last update nobody could due to the various complications but the inevitable outcome would be full Marvel control, Universal will never be able to make a Namor movie or have any involvement in one short of Marvel selling the rights back.

xero42 said...

thing is though Isn't Dagger a Mutant...i mean don't get me wrong she's an easy hand wave to say magic but i wear she was classified as a mutant in something i saw/read

OpposingVue said...

Actually, the numbers support the two "Thor" movies beating out the two "Fantastic Four" movies, even when accounting for inflation.
(Source: http://boxofficemojo.com/franchises/chart/?id=marvelcomics.htm)

OpposingVue said...

First, "Swamp Thing" and "Man-Thing" are similar only in that they involve swamp-made humanoids in a swamp; that is basically all they have in common. There is a lot more to the mythology with both characters, even if the movies probably ignored most of it.

"Man-Thing" wasn't that bad, when you take into account that it was more of a basic monster movie than a super-hero movie; as such, the movie's plot centered more on an investigator, with Man-Thing being on screen for only a minimum amount of time.
And while the second "Swamp Thing" film was very bad, the first one did have its fun moments. However, it wasn't as bad a rip-off as "Catwoman".

OpposingVue said...

How do you feel about the "Dirty Laundry" video seen on YouTube, as made by a group calling itself "Friends of Frank"?

OpposingVue said...

Cloak & Dagger may or not have the mutant gene, but it has long been established that their powers were activated by chemically-tainted drugs. Yes, while they may have been very briefly on the Norman Osborn/Dark Reign version of an X-men team, they are as much mutants as Deadpool... meaning they are not. (SONY retconning of Wade Wilson aside.)

Idran said...

One correction/addition: from what I understand, Fox also currently owns the movie rights to the original Human Torch, Jim Hammond; it went along with the Fantastic Four rights to prevent confusing cross-marketing.

Day of Marvel said...

Does Marvel have complete rights over Nova Corps? Like characters like Richard Rider (Nova), Sam Alexander (Nova), Firelord, Air-walker, Quasar, and Powerhouse (Rieg Davan)?

Isaiah Thomas said...

Marvel owns Man-Thing his wife is in Iron Man 3 and he was mention directly in AOS season 1 by Maria Hill after Captain America Winter Soldier

Isaiah Thomas said...

The Original Human Torch is in the first Captain America movie as a Easter egg

Damien Pane said...

Except this article is completely wrong in how it states the rights. Marvel "owns" all of the characters, but does not control the exploitation rights (including derivative rights) to all of the characters due to certain exclusivity agreements made with different studios. Once these terms expire (i.e., none of them were in perpetuity - and perpetuity only covers life of copyright), then the rights (i.e., the exploitation rights, the "control") will revert back to Marvel (or really, Disney). Example being Star Wars - owned by Lucas Film, but Fox held certain rights for a certain term. Once Lucas Film sold to Disney, Disney controlled the Star Wars franchise (among other properties).

Maurice Mitchell said...

Good point. In the opening sentence I simplified it by saying the studios owns the characters but the article goes on to point out that it's just the movie rights they own. Sorry for any confusion.

David Guzmán Araiza said...

you'll have to add the inhumans in the infographic now, they seem to be starting to get important in the MCU

LLawliet007 said...

Marvel Studios also has Jessica Jones getting a TV series and Iron Fist as well I would put them by Daredevil and Luke Cage because they are all making up the Defenders and they also mention the Avengers.

LLawliet007 said...

I think Fox also owns the word Adimantium. Don't quote me on that though. Especially since I think I spelled the word wrong.

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