Video Gaming (EL 250)


2 Jan 2006

Big

The opening sequence of this Tom Hanks comedy shows a boy playing a graphics-and-text video game. In the context of a movie that celebrates the innocence of childhood and attacks the childish culture of corporate greed, games play an important role.

The young Josh is frustrated by a puzzle involving a character frozen in ice. He types "melt ice" but is stumped when the computer replies, "What do you want to melt the ice with?" Later, Josh makes a wish in front of a coin-operated mechanical fortune teller, and is transformed into an adult (played by Hanks). After leaving home and finding work at a toy company, he makes a successful boardroom pitch for his concept of "electronic comics" - book-sized video screens with buttons that can control the action. Now that the computer game has become a business proposition embroiled in office politics, Josh is nostalgic for his lost childhood. He returns to the same computer game he had been playing at the start of the movie, and solves the puzzle by melting the ice "with thermal pod." The ice puzzle seems to be a metaphor for Josh's childhood, and the mechanical fortune-telling game is a bridge between childhood and adulthood.

We still don't have the technology to make such a product today, but the "electronic comic" that Josh pitched is presented within the movie world as a successful idea.

Some child-development experts argue that corporate America is encouraging children to grow up more quickly. In a previous generation, girls played with Barbies as tweens, and boys played with Matchbox cars and Legos. Now, tweens are far more into fashion, popular music, and gadgets such as iPods and portable phones. According to one article, "with the latest crop of electronics for children 6 to 12, there is little pretending. The adult's product and the child's are often one and the same." ("As Gadgets Replace Toys, What's In It For Kids?"

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Comments

I found Big to be quite entertaining. During the first scene I knew that the pc game he was playing to be a metaphor for the events yet to come. The ice melting puzzle is a metaphor for Josh being stuck in adolescence and how he wants to break free and become an adult. The Zoltar machine is his gateway into adulthood but is also a representation of childhood and innocence. In the end when Josh goes back to work on the puzzle and finds a way to melt the ice,he has learned that being a kid isn't so bad and the puzzle has been completed, therefore he can go back to being a child.

The basis behind the movie is the pc game. This game IS childhood. When he becomes an adult he leaves the game behind until his friend says something to him about being a kid. When he figures out the puzzle, he is going back to his childhood and realizing that its not over and he has soo much more time to enjoy childhood.

Posted by: Kayla Lukacs at January 2, 2006 03:07 PM

Kayla, that's a good analysis of the function of games in this movie.

Big begins and ends in the perspective of childhood. What about Tron (which begins and ends in the real adult world, but visits the computer world), Spy Kids 3D (which begins and ends in the world of children, with a long visit to the computer world) or WarGames (which begins in the world of childhood and ends in the adult world)?

Posted by: Dennis G. Jerz at January 2, 2006 03:12 PM

The main focus on this movie is how to play. Everyone is playing a game, and the genuine game is more powerful than trying to play a developed reality or the most logical game.
I also think Susan is the protagonist.
You can read more of that on my blog post "Big: Everyone Plays"

Posted by: Stephan Puff at January 2, 2006 07:28 PM

The main focus on this movie is how to play. Everyone is playing a game, and the genuine game is more powerful than trying to play a developed reality or the most logical game.
I also think Susan is the protagonist.(As the protagonist is not necessarily the most seen character)
You can read more of that on my blog post "Big: Everyone Plays"

Posted by: Stephan Puff at January 2, 2006 07:29 PM

Can anyone tell me if the fortune teller is a boy or girl?? I have a bet and need to find out!
thanks

Posted by: roberto at August 7, 2006 03:35 PM
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