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WarGames (1983)

PG  |   |  Sci-Fi, Thriller  |  3 June 1983 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.1/10 from 68,086 users  
Reviews: 149 user | 81 critic

A young man finds a back door into a military central computer in which reality is confused with game-playing, possibly starting World War III.


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Nominated for 3 Oscars. Another 4 wins & 11 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Kent Williams ...
Joe Dorsey ...
Irving Metzman ...
William Bogert ...
David Clover ...


A young computer whiz kid accidentally connects into a top secret super-computer which has complete control over the U.S. nuclear arsenal. It challenges him to a game between America and Russia, and he innocently starts the countdown to World War 3. Can he convince the computer he wanted to play a game and not the real thing ? Written by Colin Tinto <cst@imdb.com>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Shall we Play! See more »


Sci-Fi | Thriller


PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:



Official Sites:



Release Date:

3 June 1983 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

War Games  »

Box Office


$12,000,000 (estimated)


$79,568,000 (USA)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(70 mm prints)| (35 mm prints)



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Graphics on the large NORAD war room screens were rendered in advance by an HP 9845C desktop computer running BASIC. In 1982 the 9845C was comprised of a base with built-in keyboard and a 14" color monitor that mounted on top. Cost of a 9845C was about $90,000 (inflation-adjusted) and the entire "desktop" computer weighed about 100 pounds. The computer's resolution was not good enough to project on a large screen or to be filmed from directly, so a high-resolution monochromatic display was connected. The images were filmed from the display, one frame at a time, one color at a time, using filters for red, green, and blue. The process took about 1 minute per frame of film. See more »


At the beginning of the movie when the computer is counting down at the silo the computer says the countdown sequence off beat several times, especially in the last 10 seconds. See more »


David Lightman: Joshua called me.
McKittrick: [incredulous] David, computers don't call people!
David Lightman: [shrugs] Yours did.
See more »


Referenced in In the Realm of the Hackers (2003) See more »


War Games
Performed by Crosby Stills & Nash (as Crosby, Stills & Nash)
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Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

A movie of its time, mandatory viewing for hackers
31 January 2008 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

One important piece of reality in this movie is when David Lightman looks for the computer game company, and stumbles across WOPR, by using a program that automatically calls every number in an area looking for a carrier. Such a program was called, after this movie came out, a "Wargames dialer" or a "Wardialer". And today, as well as old fashioned wardialing, we have wardriving, warstrolling, warchalking... war everything else, because of this movie. And have you heard of the annual hacker convention, held in Las Vegas, called.... Defcon? There are, of course, factual problems with this movie, some of which one just accepts as necessary to the ploy. When David plugs the speech synthesizer into his computer, he explains that the computer isn't really speaking, just interpreting the text that's coming in. We can't have an entire movie just looking at a video screen, so we accept that. But then at the end, Joshua speaks the climactic lines of the movie in the same voice, which makes no sense at all. The way that Joshua could find one character at a time of the password never did wash. And the paper clip method could only make a local call.

The nuclear freeze movement was certainly quite strong in the '80s, more so than many today realize. I hope you understand what "freeze" means, because it's not the same as disarmament. It means: lets just stop throwing money down this black hole by stopping the nuclear arms race where it is. Who cares if they can reduce us fine powder and we can only reduce them to sand. Ronald Reagan outmaneuvered the freeze movement with all that SDI nonsense, which was just another excuse to waste money and extend the arms race into space. With Reagan, it's hard to tell, of course: maybe he really thought it was a "purely defensive" system, that could "make nuclear weapons obsolete". When the Soviet Union finally collapsed, there was talk of a "peace dividend", in which the obscene amount of money previously spent on the arms race could actually help people at home. There ain't too much talk about that now, with the "War on Terror", which is a war about as much as the War on Drugs or the War on Poverty, and just about as successful.

31 of 43 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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