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You fools! Destroyer of Worlds will kill us all!
—Skips, Regular Show

An evil video game, usually packing some paranormal baggage. Playing the game will cause you to go mad, suffer from horrible nightmares, and even commit suicide in an effort to make the horrors stop. Sometimes, they are less destructive, casting a trance over the player and causing him or her to play constantly, at the expense of their health and relationships.

This trope is often the result of old fogies (and thrill-seeking youth) concocting myths about the dangers of new, unfamiliar technology. However, it's become more and more popular for New Media found footage-style horror stories.

Lurking in the realm of Urban Legends as well as that of out-and-out fiction, the most dangerous video game occasionally finds its way into Real Life, in the form of outcries from concerned citizens and Moral Watchdogs who claim that real video games incite violence, antisocial behavior, and other ills on those who play them. Be that as it may, most of these theories are of the "fringe" variety.


Not to be confused with The Most Dangerous Game, or the trope named after that story. Sub-Trope of The Game Plays You.

Examples of The Most Dangerous Video Game include:


Anime and Manga

  • The "Legendary Heroes" Filler Arc in Yu-Gi-Oh! features an evil virtual-reality RPG created by the Big Five to trap Kaiba and keep him from firing them.
  • The virtual-reality game Greed Island in Hunter X Hunter really physically transports players to a real gameworld (a small, uncharted island) and only lets the player leave at certain Save Points... which means you can be trapped in the game if you can't get that Last Lousy Point, and if you die you're really dead.
  • The titular game in Angel Sanctuary allows an angel to steal the body of the player.


Comics

  • The Hack Slash miniseries My First Maniac featured an old arcade game called Bludbus, which urban legends state was banned due to causing things like suicidal and homicidal thoughts (undoubtedly inspired by the real-life urban legend of the Polybius cabinets). The slasher of the story, Grinface, was a normal boy who was either possessed by the game after his death, or was so obsessed with it he simply decided to adopt the identity of the Villain Protagonist.


Film

  • The game in Spy Kids 3D traps the player and keeps them playing.
  • One of the three segments from the film Nightmares is about JJ Cooney, a video game whiz obsessed with beating an arcade game named The Bishop of Battle - a game so unfairly difficult, not even the best players could make it past the twelfth stage. When Cooney finally succeeds (after having snuck into the arcade in the middle of the night), he realizes that beating the game causes the threats and enemies from within to come alive.
  • The eponymous game in Stay Alive summons the spirit of the Blood Countess in its intro sequence. If your character in the game dies, she hunts you down and kills you in the same way.
  • This trope has been used often in terrible straight-to-rental movies, particularly in the 90's. Specific examples are difficult to pinpoint because they are all equally forgettable.
    • Brainscan is probably one of the more memorable ones: It starts off as a surprisingly effective thriller about a kid buying a product that supposedly uses hypnosis to make the in-game experiences more realistic, before discovering that he may be affecting the real world by playing the game. Then, just as it looks like the movie could be a b-classic, it introduces an incredibly lame "video game demon", and quickly goes down-hill.
    • Another was called Arcade; about its only memorable feature was the villain played by John de Lancie, who also portrayed Q on Star Trek.
    • De Lancie also played the scientist/creator in Evolver, another mid-90's flick about a Robot Buddy that takes VR combat way too seriously.
  • How to Make a Monster had a video game coming to life after a lightning strike. It then starts killing its developers by animating an animatronic suit based off the game. It's only stopped when one junior developer dons a virtual reality suit of her own, which somehow allows her to destroy it in the real world too.
  • The Bollywood film Ra-One has the titular video game villain (programmed to be "undefeatable") come to life because AI Is a Crapshoot and Applied Phlebotinum allowed it to have a solid body.
  • In Maximum Overdrive a man is mesmerized by an arcade cabinet, which fatally electrocutes him when he touches it.
  • In a sense, Tron was one of the earlier movies to pull this off. It wasn't the game itself sucking you in, but the MCP used several "game programs" (disc battles, the jai-alai looking arena, Space Paranoids, Light Cycles, the *tanks*) to help keep control over still-semi-free programs. Quinn simply got zapped into the computer world and stuck in the deadly games. Tron: Legacy took it a step further, in that CLU became just a dick that enjoyed making others fight to the death, program, user or otherwise.


Literature

  • A Spanish children's book called La aventura de los chips biológicos (Adventure of the Biological Chips) is about an evil, addictive computer game that drains the life of the children that play it.
  • One of Robert Rankin's Brentford Trilogy books features a Space Invaders machine at the Flying Swan that causes its only player to become possessed by actual space invaders.
  • What kicks off the story of Otherland. A number of kids who access the future-Internet fall into comas.
  • Inversion in Only You Can Save Mankind: you can't actually die in the game, but the mobs you're killing are real, sentient beings, under siege by Omnicidal Maniac Ace Pilots who won't stay dead.
    • Comes with the implication that all games are like this; at one point they pass by the wreckage of a Space Invaders fleet.
  • The Shivers novel The Animal Rebellion had a cursed (...or something, it's never really explained) computer game that caused all animals in the immediate vicinity to go violently insane. In order to reverse the effects of the game (which was purposely Unwinnable, being the kind where you just have try and survive for as long as possible) the main characters had to wipe it from the hard drive and destroy the physical copy.
  • Gillian Rubinstein's Space Demons trilogy featured three of these (each one a sequel to the previous): the eponymous Space Demons, Skymaze and Shinkei.


Live Action Television

  • The infamous Touched By an Angel episode "Virtual Reality" reveals that all violent video games are apparently tools of hatred and of Satan that make children evil bastards with little regard for human life.
  • The show Level Up revolves around a group of teens working with the creator of an MMO to defeat monsters from the game that have escaped into reality. The monsters keep escaping even after they initially defeat the game's Big Bad in the 90-minute pilot.
  • Though not deadly by itself, the titular virtual reality game in the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode The Game caused its users to become highly addicted, to the point of not wanting to do anything else, and also become extremely open to suggestion at the same time. It was planted by a woman seeking to gain control of the Enterprise by controlling her entire crew, and spread through the ship due to peer pressure and, eventually, crewmembers forcing it on the few individuals who refused to participate.
  • In the X Files episode "First Person Shooter," co-written by William Gibson, a virtual reality game becomes haunted by an AI that kills players in real life. The episode gets virtually nothing right about programming or gaming.


Real Life

  • The first recorded death while playing a video game was with Berzerk - a man got a heart attack while playing it.
  • There are many media accounts of gamers dying after playing for absurdly long periods without rest, especially in Asia. The deaths were mostly caused by the physical stress of such a long continuous session rather than any property of the games themselves. This goes back to 1981-82, when two teenagers died very shortly after posting high scores in the arcade game Berzerk. Even more common are reports of health issues stemming from the same practices, which have prompted game companies and service providers to institute Anti Poop Socking changes.
  • There have been cases of online game players fighting or killing each other in real life over virtual property, though the players themselves were usually as much to blame as the service providers.


Urban Legends

  • Polybius, an (entirely fictional) arcade game of American youth and urban lore that's become ubiquitous thanks to the Internet. The game, so the story goes, is a Tempest knock-off that appeared in Portland arcades in 1981. The children who played it suffered from all three of the symptoms detailed above before killing themselves in the middle of the night. The game disappeared shortly afterward, as suddenly as it had come - in some tellings, wheeled away by mysterious men in black. Someone actually decided to make a Polybius game, purposely simulating elements found in the mythology (subliminal messages, supernatural things, and so on). Of course, they can be toggled on and off. See it here.


Video Games

  • The titular nameless game in Nanashi no Game.
  • The Yu-Gi-Oh! video game Yu-Gi-Oh the Falsebound Kingdom is about a virtual-reality game that's actually a method of gathering souls for a sacrifice.
  • Parodied in the indie game Ben There, Dan That!.
  • In the game Kid Chameleon, the new Virtual Reality arcade game on the block turns deadly, and actively tries to kill the players. Kid Chameleon tries to beat the game at its own game, presumably to save the people the game has already beaten. It won't be easy.
  • Also used as the Excuse Plot for the Wayne's World video game; it's not quite clear if Wayne and Garth were sucked into the game or if the baddies came out, but the levels are 90's platformer versions of a few places from the movie; Wayne must use his laser-shooting guitar to rescue Garth, who has been consumed by the purple gelatinous cube from that game in Noah's Arcade in the movie.


Web Original

  • Ben Drowned (sometimes called simply Majora), an Internet meme / Alternate Reality Game about a blogger named "jadusable" who gradually loses his grip on reality as he is tormented by a haunted Majora's Mask cartridge. The whole thing can be found here.
    • That site now redirects to the forum for the 3rd arc of the BEN Drowned ARG. Right now, you'll have to view that story here.
  • Lost Silver, a memetic story about a hacked, possibly haunted Pokémon Silver cartridge. It can be downloaded.
    • There's also a story about a hacked Pokemon Black (not the official Pokemon Black version for DS, though).
      • In both of these, the cause isn't explicitly supernatural. Indeed, both are simply about somebody finding what is most likely a morbid ROM hack on a bootleg cart. The games in question are hacked into chilling and even depressing stories about death. Pokemon Black has you kill Pokemon and their trainers with Ghost until there's nobody left, then Ghost kills you. Lost Silver has Gold coming to terms with his own death at what could be years after the fact. One chill comes from just who would have the knowledge to do all this, then distribute them as bootleg carts instead of posting them on the internet. The Fridge Horror comes in when you realize that hacking games to the extent shown in the stories and writing them onto cartridges only became possible fairly recently, with the cartridges featured in the stories apparently being from the first gen years.
      • Note that in both these stories, the players aren't actually in any danger, so these might be considered extremely mild versions of this trope.
    • There's also the Lavender Town Syndrome story, which has plain old Pokemon Red and Green/Blue being a dangerous video game, and talking about how various things (Lavender Town's music, fake stuff supposedly from the tower and haunted video games) led to mass suicide. There are actually two stories tied to this one, one haunted and one having various in-game stuff causing illness and death.
    • Pokémon is a very frequent subject of these sorts of stories. Another example is Tarnished Silver and its sequel Audible, which use Missing No., the Unown, and events from the protagonist's past to screw with his life and/or health.
  • Stories of haunted / evil video games are a fairly common type of Internet meme. Games from Super Mario 64 to Wolfenstein and Sonic the Hedgehog have gotten this treatment.
  • Parodied, to great effect, by Jon Tron in his "review" of Final Fantasy XIII.
  • Sonic R has the myth of Tails Doll. Tails Doll was an unlockable character with an appearance that many considered to be creepy (though some just find him cute). According to a number of Creepypastas, upon meeting certain conditions (usually tagging Super Sonic with Tails Doll on a specific track), Tails Doll would break into the real world and violently murder the player.
  • The NES Godzilla Creepypasta has the eponymous cartridge, which apparently houses other worlds, complete with ecosystems, and also the Hellbeast


Web Comics

  • Homestuck and how. We have Sburb, a game that brings about the apocalypse when played. It also uses Time Travel to cause itself to come into being as well as force its players to play, meaning the destruction is predetermined and inevitable.
    • It gets worse from there. Sburb is necessary for the creation of other universes - meaning the players are forced to sacrifice their civilization to bring about a new universe. IF their game is not a "null session," meaning it is predetermined to fail, making the sacrifice completely senseless. And unfortunately, null sessions more numerous than the successful ones.
    • Averted with a void session, which cannot cause an apocalypse.


Western Animation

  • Destroyer of Worlds from Regular Show. Plugging it in (you don't need to play) unleashes an enormous, pixelated devil face with intent to, as the name implies, destroy the world.
  • Megas XLR: Coop comes into possession of what appears to be an old video game cartridge, but it's actually an intergalactic prison housing many dangerous alien criminals. When Coop finally finds a game console that it fits into (or rather one that he can hit it hard enough to fit into), he accidentally releases them and spends the episode putting them back in.
  • SinisteRRR from We Are the Strange is an evil arcade game that (possibly) acts as a watchdog and alarm for the Big Bad and later transforms into a Humongous Mecha who proceeds to kill off all but 3 of the main cast.
  • In The Fairly Odd Parents episode "Power Mad," Timmy wishes for a VR game that he can't wish out of. Timmy, Chester, and AJ then have to finish the game without losing all three of their lives otherwise they'll be destroyed.
  • In DC Super Friends, the Joker turns Cyborg's room into one of these.
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