Chances are that whenever a video game appears on a popular television program, the results won't be pretty. For whatever reason, popular shows such as CSI, Dexter, and Law & Order are unable to depict video games with any degree of accuracy or, most likely, the producers behind these programs just don't care. Ty Shughart at 1UP.com has put together a short list of some of the more egregious examples of prime time programming getting everything about gaming absolutely wrong.
From Donny Deutsch's inane ramblings on The Today Show to the embarrassing list of terrible TV moments we're about to give you, it seems that gaming can't get a fair shake on TV. As gamers, we have to wonder -- do other people have to put up with ludicrous portrayals of their hobbies on television? What amount of research and editing goes into the episode of that one TV show where the one guy plays a video game? Who does one have to pay off to get Johnny Arcade's glorious throne? All these questions will be left unanswered after this hard-hitting investigation into television's worst portrayals of video games, but we'll at least be able to tell you why games and gamers are depicted so terribly on TV.
I was surprised to see CBS's The Big Bang Theory on the list. While it's not always correct about video games and the culture around them, the show did go out of its way once to explain why one of the characters was playing Nintendo's Super Mario 64 on a laptop PC. The dialogue actually elaborated that a Nintendo 64 emulator was in use and whenever the game was paused, the soundtrack lit up with the actual correct pause sound from Super Mario 64. I'm not sure why that's objectionable. If anything, it's to be encouraged. Any other program would have dropped the game's name without explaining why it was playable on a PC and then dubbed in Atari 2600 sound effects to cover it. We're making progress, slow as it may seem. Remember when the "First Person Shooter" episode of The X-Files was considered an accurate portrayal of gaming? I'd say we've moved forward since then.