When it comes to video games making cameos in movies and television there's really only two categories; either it's an actual game (such as Shadow of the Colossus in the film "Reign over Me"), or it's a game made from scratch to serve as a set prop. Obviously the latter is preferable from a licensing standpoint. However, there are some bizarre instances of these fake games turning into actual games people can play. The text-parser adventure game seen in the Tom Hanks film "Big" (playable here), and "The Last Starfighter" arcade cabinet are two such examples. The most outstanding purveyor of this phenomenon though has to be the long-running animated TV series - The Simpsons.
It's a funny thing to think about considering there are numerous licensed video games for the franchise (including a four-player-side-scrolling-beat'em-up arcade game). While at the same time over a dozen made-up games have appeared on-screen. Many have just been background decorations, but there are six in particular that are prominent enough to be worth mentioned here.
Unlike previous examples which are single-scene featurettes, this final entry is the subplot for an entire episode. The name of the game is Super Slugfest, a homage to Punch-Out!! for the NES with one big difference; A two-player-mode. The key plot point of the episode involves Homer going to the Noise Land video arcade so he can learn how to get better at the game under the tutelage of a child who has mastered it. Typically Homer is depicted as being bonehead stupid, but here is a rare exception to that trend because upon returning home he proceeds to thrash his son, Bart, at the game when every time up until then it has been the other way around. Unfortunately for Homer, the TV gets unplugged before he can deliver the coup de grâce. Subsequently, Bart announces his retirement (as the undefeated champion), denying his father the catharsis of just one victory.
These final two examples struck a chord with me in that I've always had the utmost respect for (grand)parents who go out of their way to enrich themselves in the hobbies of their children (despite not having any person interest). The common theme of the son surpassing the father is something that exists in virtually every form of competition, but here it highlights a special generational gap. Baby Boomers didn't have access to games growing up, but Generation Xers did. Now, with the millennials starting to have children of their own, gaming has become nearly ubiquitous across multiple generations. Overall, I'd say that's a good thing. Even so, it's also nice to see a piece of media that chronicles the cultural history divide of video games in it's own quirky way.