5 ways to celebrate WarGames’ 30th anniversary

Relive the ultimate cinematic hacker classic with these WarGames-related activities

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Use Google Street Views to revist WarGames filming locations - like the 7-Eleven where the feds busted David

Image credit: Google

Are you bummed out by this whole the-NSA-is-tracking-everything-we-do story? Well, take your mind off of it for a little while by reliving the days, back in the early 1980s, when our biggest problem was the threat of a teenager with a computer and an acoustic coupler hacking his way into NORAD computers and accidentally starting a global thermonuclear war. Ahh, simpler times!

The classic hacker flick WarGames turns 30 (yes, 30!) this month. 40-something geeks (or anyone around that age who had a thing for Ally Sheedy) should definitely give the movie a rewatch to celebrate this nerd classic. I recently watched it again, with my kids, who really enjoyed it - although I had to repeatedly pause the movie to explain what things were, e.g., “That’s what a telephone used to look like,” “That’s what a computer used to look like,” “That’s what a TV used to look like,” etc.

Hardcore WarGames fans, though, may want to spend a little more than the 114 minutes it takes to watch the movie (minus pauses to explain the old technology to a 10 year old) commemorating this cinematic milestone. If you have some time to kill, here are five ways to dig deeper into the history of WarGames and recapture some of the magic from the summer of 1983:

  1. Read Wired’s in-depth piece on the movie from the 25th anniversary in 2008. It provides lots of background and trivia from screenwriters Lawrence Lasker and Walter Parkes, like, for instance, that John Lennon was interested in playing the part of Dr. Falken.

  2. Watch David Scott Lewis, one of the real life hackers upon whom Matthew Broderick’s character of David Lightman was based, talk about the movie, hacking and his career at a recent DEF CON.

  3. Use Google Street Views to visit the movie’s shooting locations and see what they look like today. For example, the 7-Eleven where David Lightman was arrested is still there (as is the McDonald’s across the street)!

  4. Listen to the entire movie soundtrack, composed by Arthur Rubenstein.

  5. Buy a vintage Colecovision console and WarGames game cartridge  (or, if you don’t want to go to that much trouble or expense, for $.99 you can download WarGames: WOPR right to your iOS or Android device) and play a little Global Thermonuclear War.

Hopefully, this will be enough to scratch your WarGames itch - and take your mind off how old you’re getting. Enjoy!

Read more of Phil Johnson's #Tech blog and follow the latest IT news at ITworld. Follow Phil on Twitter at @itwphiljohnson. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-tos, follow ITworld on Twitter and Facebook.

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