I Know Mortal Kombat

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.

"I can do this, Joe! I've seen Patton over a hundred times!"

Linkara, Kickassia

This is a situation in which a character acquired a needed skill, not by ever actually learning that skill, but by playing a video game or watching a movie which simulated that skill.

Just as much of a Hand Wave as Suddenly Always Knew That, but has the additional benefit of the "Hey, I could do that!" for the audience.

Moral Guardians often take this trope way too seriously, begetting the concept of Murder Simulators. However if it did work, you could learn medicine from Dr. Mario and cure people with nothing more than a high powered microscope and a bag of Skittles.

Now as far as the controls, basic sense of tactics and (hopefully) physics are concerned, actual vehicle simulators can supplement real and semi-real (more hardware-based) training and experience. After all, that's where simulators came from to begin with. Also note the difference between video games designed to be fun, and simulator machines designed to accurately emulate a cockpit and be used in training. And of course, even if vehicle in question doesn't subject the pilot to G-forces that could cause a blackout, the difference is likely to make Falling Into the Cockpit unsafe, if for no other reason than specific reflexes are still required to use the real controls fluently. This can also be the extreme version of The Tetris Effect.

See also Ascended Fanboy, Taught by Television, Saw It in a Movie Once, and Falling Into the Cockpit. When someone who knows what they're doing for real fails at a video game version, then it's I Don't Know Mortal Kombat. When someone tries to use fighting game moves in real life (and fails horribly), it can lead to What the Fu Are You Doing?.

Examples of I Know Mortal Kombat include:

Anime and Manga

  • Bokurano: Although not explicitly mentioned, unathletic gamer Yōsuke Kirie delivers the most awesome mecha-ass kicking we ever see, surpassing any other pilot's skill by several orders of magnitude.
  • Code Geass: In one of the supplemental, sound episodes, Lelouch and Suzaku are attempting to leave Kururugi Jinja without Lelouch's guards. Suzaku's claims he can drive the car if Lelouch takes care of everything else. It is not until they are in the car that Lelouch discovers that Suzaku's "driving experience" comes from video games. Nevertheless, they succeed.
    • Lelouch is a brilliant military strategist; at least in part, it's because he's so good at chess, which seems to be the only real experience he has at this sort of thing before taking command of the Japanese rebel forces. Schneizel may have gotten his training from the same source too. Fridge Logic sets in when they actually play chess, which they are terribly, terribly bad at (at least from an out of universe perspective).
      • Also an example of Fridge Brilliance, in that a lot of the mistakes made by Schneizel and Lelouch come from assuming that their plans will proceed according to chess logic. In chess, your opponent won't randomly gain an extra Queen or Rook just in time to prevent being checkmated; unlike in chess, pieces are not happy to be sacrificed and will not take kindly to being manipulated. Schniezel is the better "chess player", but Lelouch proves to be better "tactician"
  • G Gundam: Used when Domon Kasshu and Allenby Beardsley play an arcade game that simulates the mecha tournament they are competing in down to the motion sensing cockpit system. The fight ends in a draw because the game computer was unable to keep up with their speed and blew up.
    • Also invoked in Victory Gundam as the protagonist Usso Ebbing is an Ace Pilot at 13 years of age. The kid grew up on MS simulators his parents engineered.
    • Gundam AGE gives the same reason for why Kio Asuno is able to fly a Gundam at 13: his grandfather Flit got him an MS simulator disguised as a video game when he was very young.
  • Great Teacher Onizuka: This happens in the manga version, where Kikuchi takes the Vice Principals car and Kunio asks him if he knows how to drive it. Kikuchi says that he aced Gran Turismo and should be fine. Turns out that he damageswrecks the car and drives the car off a pier by accident.
  • Lucky Star: Konata defeats a hulking Guile Expy with moves straight from Street Fighter, complete with hovering life bars. She also wins footraces by visualizing herself as an athlete in Konami's Hyper Olympic (Track & Field on the NES) complete with the signature controller. To be fair, though, she is described as being quite athletic.
  • Mahou Sensei Negima: In a very early volume, Negi plays a videogame based on magical combat, and, though he loses, does extremely well for his first time playing. His students chalk it up to him being a genius, most of them not knowing that Negi is a real-life mage.
  • Overman King Gainer: Gainer Sanga takes this to its logical extreme. Already an Ascended Fanboy whose prowess at online games translates directly into proficiency at piloting the eponymous Humongous Mecha, one episode has him engaged in an online tournament and a real-life battle at the same time, having modified King Gainer to allow him to fight both battles simultaneously. When the dust clears and everybody realizes his impossible achievement, he is awarded the title of "King of the Dual Field".
  • Patlabor: Inverted and subverted in an episode: Noa is an ace at piloting giant robots, but she totally bombs playing a robot-themed video game.
    • A similar joke happens in the beginning of the Fatal Fury movie, where we see that Terry Bogard isn't good at playing Fighting Games because he lives in one.
    • In a similar gag that comprised one of about three worthwhile scenes in the Martian Successor Nadesico Movie, ace mecha pilot Ryoko gets her ass kicked at a video game by her former wingwoman Hikaru, who had been retired for about three years, writing Magical Girl manga. To be fair, it was a 2D Fighting Game, just a mecha-themed one.
  • Pokémon subverts this. Early in the original series, the heroes come across a Pokémon Academy where the students simulate battles on machines with displays suspiciously reminiscent of the video games the anime is derived from. The student the heroes were speaking to ends up voicing his belief that a battle with Misty would be a waste of time, as his Grass-type Pokémon always defeat Water-types in the simulations. Misty ends up battling with him anyway, and instantly beats him with absolutely no effort.
    • And after the kid calls this out, the school's resident Alpha Bitch points out that even if a Pokémon is at a type disadvantage, it's still possible for them to win if they're strong enough. She then proceeds to defeat Misty's Starmie with a Graveler - a Rock-Ground type, and doubly weak against Water. But then makes the same mistake using a Cubone - a Ground type and immune to Electricity - against Pikachu (who bites it on the tail and makes it cry).
  • Sailor Moon: possible inversion in the manga version, where Usagi gets better at the Sailor V video game as she gains experience as a Sailor Senshi. Artemis later reveals that he had been using the game to train the girls.
  • Starship Girl Yamamoto Yohko This is the premise. The titular Yohko is an avid video gamer who's apparently taken to the future to fight in space war games. She regains her memories of actually being from the future as a result.
  • Super Dimension Fortress Macross: Subverted, where Milia Fallyna discovers Maximillian Jenius' identity as the pilot who shot her down when she replays their last encounter on an arcade simulator using the exact same tactics.
  • The World God Only Knows is centered around a student who possesses an incredible amount of skill at... dating simulators. Fortunate that the runaway spirits hide in the hearts of females, and are released when the hearts are "captured", right? Though at first he doesn't think it will work, and when it turns out it does people mock his invocations.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh!: The Abridged Series: Spoofed in an episode in which Kaiba, while piloting a helicopter, says: "Thank God for Microsoft flight simulator".
  • Yu Yu Hakusho: Taking it to its logical endpoint: during the Chapter Black arc, one of Sensui's aides, the Gamemaster (Amanuma), an elementary school student, has the power to alter his territory into a copy of whatever video game he desires. This grants him any skill he needs from that game (for example, the incredible driving skill of a racing game's AI). He can also take on the role of any of the game's characters. Unfortunately, he takes on the role of 'Goblin King', who is fated to die when the game is won by the protagonists (who have been cast as the "Seven Heroes"); Sensui never told him that what happens to the characters happens to him. The heroes win.
  • Zegapain features a video game based on the control of the title mecha, used to both recruit pilots and train them in their time off.
  • Zoids inverts this, when actual Zoid pilots turn out to be fantastic at the video games that simulate the sport in which they participate.
  • Highschool of the Dead LOOKS like it's going to end up with this, when Kohta starts talking about playing shooting games as a response to how he's such a crack shot... Until he continues on with the fact that he's logged time at a Blackwater firing range, where he was briefly tutored by a Delta Force sniper. And all of a sudden his being able to headshot shambling zombies while sticking out the turret of a badly driven Humvee makes sense...
  • Kirito from Sword Art Online spent 2 years trapped in a virtual reality game. After he escaped, he developed actual sword skills and enhanced reflexes, was almost able to beat his sister in a kendo sparring match, and beat a knife-wielding mad man bare handed.
  • Genjuro from Senki Zesshou Symphogear can do absolutely insane things and while his training Hibiki is subjected to involves legitimate training techniques, it also features watchnig action movies and fighting games and trying to copy them and his own style is a mix of Bruce Lee's, Akuma's and Toph's movesets he learned this way.
  • In The Brave of Gold Goldran episode 8, Tkuya invokes this trope by saying that he will shoot down robots using his arcade skills. It works.

Comic Books

  • Amulet: Navin convinces Emily to let him to pilot the Albatross due to his experience in playing flight simulation-type games. He turns out to be a pretty good pilot in general.
  • Carmen Sandiego: In the comics, detectives are recruited using the computer game.
  • Deadpool: Subverted in issue #27. He's already a competent martial artist. The obvious Shout-Out is just for laughs. "You smug little--Speaking of games. You ever play Street Fighter?"
  • Taskmaster. This is actually his power. Due to what he calls "photographic reflexes", he can perfectly emulate any humanly possible physical action he's seen someone else perform. Taskmaster has even been known to watch kung-fu movies on fast-forward and temporarily use the styles he saw at the same increased speed. Unfortunately, it also erases an equal portion of memory from his brain to make space for the new technique, i.e., his name or his wife.


  • Back to The Future III: Marty attributes his skill at a 19th century shooting range to hours spent playing the arcade Light Gun shooting game Wild Gunman. This makes a certain amount of sense, considering the former is essentially a game as well, albeit with a real gun. The scene is part of a series-long Running Gag involving Marty being a crack shot at such "baby's toys".
  • Battlefield Earth has a group of tribal primitives learning to fly Harrier Jump Jets by spending a few hours in a simulator.
  • D.A.R.Y.L.: The title character is an expert at all electronic games. This is partially because he has lightning fast reflexes, but partially because he is also a cyborg that can hack directly into the video games. Eventually he uses these abilities to hijack an SR-71 Blackbird.
  • Bulletproof Monk: Kar learns how to fight at 'The Golden Palace'. This turns out to be an old cinema where he lives and shows Kung Fu movies. We actually see him imitating the actors on screen. Despite this, he's actually pretty competent.
  • Chocolate: The entire premise is that the main character's autism allows her to perfectly imitate movements that she watches other people perform. She becoes a martial arts master after watching a whole lot of kung fu films.
  • Demolition Man had Leanna Huxley managing to knock down a criminal in hand to hand combat. Since, she was raised in a pacifistic society where even eating red meat is a crime, Spartan asked where she learned to fight like that. She replied, "Jackie Chan movies."
  • Fool's Gold Used exactly. when asked how he learned to fly the biplane they are riding in, Matthew McConaughey's character simply answers "Playstation!".
  • A Dog's Breakfast Parodied when the main character attempts to pummel his sister's fiancé using skills he learned from a video game. He fails.
  • The Flight of the Phoenix, a 1965 movie, has a variant of this trope. After a plane crashes in the desert, one of the survivors says that he is an airplane designer and can design a functional plane they can construct from the wreckage. It turns out, however, that the airplanes he designs are model airplanes flown by hobbyists; he's never designed one large enough to carry a person before.
  • Galaxy Quest: Tommy Webber is able to learn how to fly a starship by watching old episodes of himself flying a fictional starship. He states that as a child actor he had worked out a consistent system for how to manipulate the prop controls based on what the fictional ship was supposed to be doing. He quickly gets the hang of doing it for real.
  • Ichi the Killer: Ichi is crazed shut-in who murders people using the skills he learned from playing Fighting Games all day. In the manga, he actually does know karate.
  • The Last Mimzy: has the boy able to drive a truck because of gaming experience (ignoring alien influence).
  • The Last Starfighter was based around this idea; aliens plant a spaceflight simulator disguised as an arcade game on Earth, and recruit the high-score winner to help them fight invaders.
  • Limitless: Eddie fends off some mooks using martial arts that he had subconsiously absorbed through watching Bruce Lee films.
  • Malibus Most Wanted has the following exchange after Jamie Kennedy's character B-rad shoots at a bunch of gang members:

Tec: Hey, yo, that was ill. Hey, where'd you learn that from?
B-rad: Grand Theft Auto 3.

  • Mars Attacks!!: This trope is one of the subplots. Throughout the movie, the two young boys of one family are seen playing video games at every single opportunity. Towards the end, they scavenge some Martian weapons and proceed to clean house with an efficacy that Earth's militaries only wish they had.
  • Men in Black: Spoofed in the second movie, in which the only way to control the Cool Car manually while in flight is with a Playstation gamepad.
  • My Schoolmate The Barbarian: Rock helps Edward defeat Tiger by telling him the button combos from a Fighting Game so he know what type of attack to use. It works quite well since Edward already knew how to fight but needed Stone's mentorship so he can use the right moves against Tiger
  • Mystery Science Theater 3000 the movie plays with this. In the beginning of This Island Earth, a plane suffers a control failure. During the first intermission, Mike describes how he would have handled the situation, claiming he qualifies as a pilot because he's "fully instrument rated for Microsoft Flight Simulator." The bots then challenge him to fly the Satellite of Love. Mike is reluctant, because the satellite handles nothing like a plane, but the robots make fun of him until he accepts. He manages less than 5 seconds of flight before plowing into the Hubble Telescope.
  • New Police Story: The robbers plan their crimes by reference to video games and recreating their set pieces.
  • In The Recruit, Colin Farrell's character attributes his superior hand gun skills to Playstation.
  • Run Ronnie Run: A fat kid who does nothing but play Dead or Alive all day fights off kidnappers using Wire Fu while the soundtrack landshades the trope with lyrics including "Fat kid learned from a video game!"
  • Scott Pilgrim Vs The World: In the original comics, Scott's backstory shows why he's such a good brawler. The film hints at the trope by presenting the fights as if they were video games. In a more explicit example, we see that Scott & Knives are able to team up against Gideon quite well in the final battle is because of experience playing a Dance Dance Revolution Expy earlier on in the movie. The film even makes use of sound effects and on-screen prompts from that game to further drive the point home.
  • Subverted in Shaun of the Dead. Shaun is shown playing a zombie video game with Ed's help early in the film. Later, he grabs a rifle and teams up with Ed to shoot at zombies in the exact same manner... except he misses just about every shot.
  • Snakes on a Plane: Troy flies the plane based on his experience with a Playstation flight sim. Actually set up, because he's been playing on a PSP all flight.
  • Taxi, a French action comedy (written by Luc Besson) comically subverts this: one of the two protagonists is a young policeman who is very good at playing driving video games, but always keeps failing the actual driving exams.
  • Time Cop also has a non-video game example. Max Walker (Jean-Claude Van Damme) is confronted by Mooks, one of whom tries to intimidate him by saying, "I went ten rounds with John L. Sullivan himself." After fighting them and easily taking them out, Walker replies, "I saw Tyson beat Spinks on TV."
  • Toys, a Robin Williams movie, in which this trope is a central plot point. General Zevo realizes that children who play arcade games have remarkable hand-eye coordination and reflexes. To that end, he repurposes his brother's toy company into a military contractor, building unmanned planes and mini-tanks that can be controlled by children at a video console. Children who still think they're playing videogames.
  • Tron: Flynn is an expert at all the games he programmed and played when he gets teleported into the computer world. Justified by the fact that he's basically a god when he's in the computer world.
  • Wild Hogs: Subverted. The police in a small town the protagonists are visiting are revealed to be extremely incompetent and poorly trained as a result of the town never having much crime. One of them says "For arms training they just told us to play Doom."
  • XXX: Xander Cage (Vin Diesel) attributes his ability with a gun to having broken his leg and having spent an entire month playing First-Person Shooter videogames. As one might expect from this type of logic, he doesn't know how to work a safety but has perfect aim. Later on, when a sniper has an incursion team pinned down and the character notices another weapon nearby, he announces in annoyance, "Dude, you've got a missile launcher! Stop thinking Prague Police and start thinking Playstation! Blow shit up!"
  • Zombieland: Little Rock credits "violent video games" with teaching her to use firearms. It should be noted, however, that she is not a very good shot until Tallahassee gives her some tips.


  • Animorphs: Subverted. Marco insists on driving the truck because of his experience with a driving game, but he's awful at it.

Jake: Do you hate trash cans? Is that it? Do you just HATE TRASH CANS?

    • Later played straight, when he manages to successfully steal a tank from a supply train. He's not so good at parking though...

Jake: (frowns) So, where did you leave the tank?
Marco: The tank. Well, you know Chapman's house? Nice two-story?
Jake: (sighs) How many stories is it now?
Marco: Uh... (glances at Tobias) Zero? But the back deck will give Chapman a nice supply of firewood this winter. It's already piled up for him.
Tobias: (smiles) Too bad he doesn't have a fireplace anymore.

  • The History of the Galaxy series. A case similar to The Last Starfighter occurs in The Thirteenth Batallion novel. The Earth Alliance sets up mech simulation booths as an MMO game. They monitor the players' progress and tactics and then abduct the best to serve on the front lines as the pilots of Real Mecha. Their commander even states that they're already better than war vets, who are stuck in their ways. Innovation and improvisation is the key to victory. This proves true during their battle, when they come up with unorthodox and unexpected tactics that would've led to victory, if their admiral didn't plan to sacrifice them all along to further his own career.
  • 1632: In one short story, Eddie Cantrell comes up with blueprints for an ironclad, based primarily on research he did as part of a historical wargame. Mike Stearns considers that while Eddie has no real-world experience, his wargaming experience puts him ahead of nearly everyone else in town. Eddie ends up working with John Simpson (the only person in Grantville with actual naval experience), and his designs form the basis of the Americans' ironclads.
  • Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life has Bryce being forced to fly a helicopter when his only experience was with a flight simulator program.
  • Invoked in Artemis Fowl: The Lost Colony, when Foaly bases a remote gunning system on video game controls to improve accuracy.
  • In Hero.com, the boys decide that they're totally equipped with the knowledge to use their downloaded super powers properly because they read comic books. Not so much, though the comic books do give them a bit of Genre Savviness.

Live Action TV

  • Arrested Development: Buster is (barely) able to operate a real crane after obsessively playing a crane game.
  • Chuck: This is how Chuck handles Falling Into the Cockpit in "Chuck vs. the Helicopter": according to Sarah, the helicopter controls in a video game that Chuck has played were based on the real thing.
    • It's also used a punchline when Devon witnesses Chuck's precision shooting in "Chuck vs. Operation Awesome". He asks if Chuck's skill comes from his training as a spy. The response? "No, Duck Hunt."
  • Cobra: Subverted in an episode where a young man with no Real Life driving experience is confident he can handle the protagonist's car because it's the same model as the virtual car he uses in his favorite Driving Game; it turns out to be rather more complicated in real life.
  • Doctor Who, "Age of Steel": When asked how he knows how to fly a zeppelin, Mickey answers "Playstation".
  • Drake and Josh: Didn't exactly work in an episode when the two are stranded in a helicopter without the pilot:

Drake: I'm gonna fly this helicopter! You've seen me play Helicopter Rescue!
Josh: What?! That?s a videogame!
Drake: So? If I can land a military helicopter on the Empire State Building, rescue the princess, while a giant lobster is shooting rockets at me, I think I can land this thing on a freeway, alright?

    • Needless to say, it didn't end well.
  • Heroes: This is pretty much Monica's power: she can do anything she's seen on TV or in real life.
  • Life On Mars: When asked if he can fire a gun with accuracy, Sam Tyler responds, "You should see my Playstation scores."
  • Mind of Mencia: lampshades this in one episode, with Carlos talking about how after seeing a kung-fu movie, every guy walking out of the theater is eyeing up everybody walking out, hopeing that they jump him so that he can use what he just saw in the movie.
  • NCIS: Justified in S7 Ep09, "Child's Play", which focuses on child prodigies using video games, one of which is Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2, in which they compare the situations in the game to real life military situations and analyze them.
  • The Office: In a non-video game example, in the Sting episode of the US version, Michael thinks he can ride a bike because of his Spinning class experiences. The effect of lack of any balancing requirements in Spinning classes becomes very obvious when Michael tries to ride a regular (as opposed to stationary) bike.
  • Penn & Teller: Bullshit! S7 Ep03 deconstructed this trope as used by the Moral Guardians. To counter the claim that violent games desensitize children to violence and that realistic games teach children how to use weapons, they test it by giving a nine year old boy who plays violent games very frequently an AR-15 at a shooting range. He holds the gun incorrectly, misses the (oversized) target, isn't prepared for the recoil, doesn't want to shoot more afterward when asked, and cries from the experience.
  • The Pretender's main protagonist has been known to do this several times. In fact, nearly every profession he learns is from something only slightly related.
  • Psych: In the episode Romeo and Juliet and Juliet, Shawn attempts to invoke this trope by telling his opponent, someone with years of experience in martial arts, that he's "made it through all seven levels of Shaq Fu on Nintendo!" It doesn't work.
  • Seinfeld: The episode where George tries to get a Frogger arcade cabinet across a busy street. (Complete with overhead camera and sound effects). But he fails to consider that unlike a frog, the cabinet can't jump, and so the curb at the other end of the street seals the cabinet's fate.
  • Stargate Universe: The whole reason Eli Wallace was hired. He's that good at Mortal Kombat (or, the Stargate MMO anyway). Justified as the MMO had been inputted with legitimate Ancient text as well as a math proof in the language.
    • Though for the most part it's deconstructed, because while he is one of the smartest people on the ship, he has absolutely no useful skills or training. His gaming skills do him absolutely no good after initially getting him discovered by the Stargate program.

And screw The Last Starfighter, because all those hours playing Halo didn't prepare me for this!

    • Exaggerated for parody when Eli is carrying a wounded Chloe around the ship.

Eli: This is nothing--I once hiked all through the Redridge Mountains with a full pack!
Chloe: Where's that?
Eli: ...WorldOfWarcraft.

    • Rodney McKay has a pessimistic view on this (as he always does): when asked to help with asteroid-shooting duty, he asks if this is like Asteroids, when he's told yes, he replies that he's terrible at Asteroids, and scored a zero once.
  • Top Gear: In one edition Jeremy Clarkson drove an Acura NSX around Laguna Seca, a track he had done hundreds of times on the PlayStation, and found it considerably more difficult in real life. Partly because he couldn't take the same risks when failure would mean time in hospital instead of restarting, of course.
  • Denji Sentai Megaranger: A fighting game was used to find candidates to turn into the Megarangers. The appearance of the Megarangers is the same as the characters in said game.
  • Weird Science had an episode with Wyatt and Lisa pretending to be brain surgeons who perform an operation on Gary and Wyatt's principal. Afterwards, Wyatt says that he didn't know Lisa knew how to perform brain surgery, and Lisa says she didn't, but that she saw it performed on last night's ER.
  • WCG Ultimate Gamer. Inversion. I don't think anyone, gamer or non-gamer, is under any illusions that the skills necessary to play Guitar Hero and those necessary to play an actual guitar are even related. Still, a reality show that forces gamers to actually play real instruments had some people complaining, "What's that got to do with playing Guitar Hero?"
  • Who Wants to Be a Superhero?: Feedback has this as his superpower, he's able to obtain the skills of any game he plays...well the character anyway.
  • On an episode of Leverage, Hardison (who is impersonating an air traffic controller) manages to guide a passenger jet into a landing using a flight simulator (and not the kind used to train pilots, either).
  • MythBusters: Played with. During an aeronautics centered episode Adam and Jamie went to the NASA flight simulator facility to try to land a passenger jet without any prior experience (real-life or virtual.) They failed miserably. Then they repeated their attempts but this time they were guided via radio by an experienced pilot and air traffic controller- they both succeeded to land the simulated jets manually. The pilot then proceeded to turn a couple knobs on the autopilot and explained that is all it takes for the plane to pretty much land itself. In case both the pilot and copilot are incapacitated (something which never happened in the history of aviation) air control would just get a stewardess on the radio and tell her which numbers to punch into the autopilot for the plane to land safely at the nearest airport. Nobody sane would hand over the lives of every passenger on an airplane to computers without human supervision on a regular basis, but that doesn't mean they aren't capable of pretty much everything a pilot would normally do.

Newspaper Comics

  • Doonesbury: In one strip Jeff Redfern is undergoing CIA training in Afghanistan and accidentally launches a missile. However, it actually ends up demolishing an Al-Qaeda ammo dump. Jeff's superior wonders how this is possible, exclaiming "It's all those damn video games, isn't it?!"

Tabletop Games

  • Car Wars: A common piece of advice to new players was to never attack a station wagon. Said cars normally had several kids with years of video game experience manning the guns.
  • Super Awesome Action Heroes, an action movie-based RPG. The Haxor class gets a bonus to their guns stat, thanks to all those First-Person Shooters they play.
  • In Adventure!, the Heroic Knack "Instant Expert" is actually not that trope, but this one instead. It allows a character to duplicate any physical task he or she has seen done...but only once per game session.

Video Games

  • Command & Conquer: In the fluff for the first game, both GDI and NOD have been monitoring online strategy games for command talent, and picked you. You're supposed to be sitting at a computer remotely guiding your forces.
  • Metal Gear Solid: Subverted to HELL, especially the second game. Soldiers are trained with VR simulations, but they aren't "soldiers" until they have combat experience. Raiden is an aversion: he had previous combat experience as a child. The Genome soldiers and PMCs...well, they're proof enough the system DOESN'T work.
  • MVP Baseball series. A licensing agreement with the Major League Baseball Players' Association prevented non-union members from appearing in the game, leaving several spots to be filled by fictional, yet similar, players. Of these non-union members the most notable was Barry Bonds, a Hall of Fame-caliber slugger. He was replaced by the fictional Jon Dowd. EA Sports released an online article "explaining" Dowd's origin. In the article, Dowd made the Giants roster from an open tryout using skills he learned from playing previous installments of MVP Baseball.
  • Street Fighter IV: Justified with the game's new character, Rufus: he studied Kung Fu movies for years, then went on a training tour in China to determine what could and couldn't be done.
  • Super Robot Wars: Original Generation: Played with; Ryusei is able to pilot a Humongous Mecha the first time he gets in the cockpit, due to being the tournament champion at a video game based on the mecha, but it's only because that specific mecha was altered to use the video game's controls. When he's finally put behind the controls of an actual mecha, his initial performances are less than stellar. (Even though his stats are actually pretty good.)
    • It's also worth noting the game and the tournament both were the result of a military project.
    • Ryusei is also one of the SRW universe's version of Newtypes, a Psycodriver. Which is better than being a Newtype. It's easy to tell his n00bishness doesn't last long.
    • Ryusei's rival, Tenzan Nakajima, played the same simulators as him, and once he gets to pilot a mecha for real, he still treats everything like one big game (the heroes in Kyosuke's route of the first SRW: OG call him out on this during their first battle with him). Dude, everyone calls out Tenzan on seeing war as a game whenever he appears. When he dies, he's trying to press the reset button and claims level grinding will let him rule the world.
  • Threads of Fate: An obscure Square Action RPG. One of the members of the Terrible Trio in has the ability to perfectly imitate the abilities of characters he reads about. Taken to ridiculous lengths when he fights you while imitating a star.
  • Virtual On: The entire plot of the first game, in an even more Meta sense: The first half of the game is the test, while the second half is supposed to be the player (yes, YOU) controlling a Humongous Mecha on the moon hundreds of years into the future from the comfort of the arcade machine.
  • Wing Commander has a simulator in the mess. On which the player can try a consequence-less training mission working much the same way as "real" ones, except the specific craft.
  • Parodied in Leisure Suit Larry 5, where Larry steps up to the task of piloting a plane based on his experience with selling flying games. He (and the player) proceeds to blindly fumble around with the controls until he purely by chance turns on the autopilot.

Web Comics

  • Antihero for Hire: Shadehawk claims his martial arts prowess comes from watching lots of kung-fu movies. Baron Diamond responds by saying he prefers game shows, and tells Dechs he's won a car...by throwing it at him.
  • In The Conspiracy the conspiracy involves video games designed to trigger this trope.

Lycan: You played games with a hand to hand combat system?
Todd: Well, a couple, but you mean that..
Lycan: You already know Kung-Fu

It’s also Snuka’s mental control over the creature, in combination with the many hours he misspent in gaming arcades in his youth. They gave him great hand-eye coordination and a competitive spirit – and the flight physics present in a typical arcade flying game are perfect training for controlling a completely inplausible fantasy creature in flight (and not much else).

Web Original

  • Lonelygirl15: In the episode "Mission Gamma", Spencer decides that the best way to teach Taylor to navigate mazes is to have her play Pac-Man. It works.
  • realultimatepower.net's Robert Hamburger "has a black belt in Street Fighter 2 and a second degree black belt in Mortal Kombat 1-3."
  • The Spoony Experiment: "I am Lord of Tekken and I will air-juggle his ass!
  • Zero Punctuation: References in the Manhunt review, pointing out that "Pressing buttons to fire a gun in, say, Soldier of Fortune is about as far-removed from the workings of actual guns as my ass is from the dark side of Europa, but then you have games like Manhunt, which not only have the player viciously maim human beings with a variety of household objects, but also provides detailed and up-close demonstrations of how to achieve the most horrific results, and arguing the harmlessness of it all lacks credibility somewhat." https://web.archive.org/web/20131213003755/http://www.escapistmagazine.com/videos/view/zero-punctuation/6-Manhunt.
  • XIN claims at one point that he gets his moves from fighting games. It is unclear whether he is serious, however.
  • The quote comes from Kickassia, where Linkara claims he is qualified to lead a rebellion against The Nostalgia Critic because he's seen the movie Patton a hundred times. Once he's given a chance, it works. Then he and everyone else try to take Kickassia for themselves.
  • In Act I of the Stupid Mario Brothers movie, Ash got the Mario Bros. and Peach out of prison by playing Ace Attorney for over 100 hours (as he finished playing Pokémon Platinum early).
  • In Bite Me, this is how Jeff, Mike and Greg know how to fight zombies.

Western Animation

  • Class of the Titans: Hephaestus modeled a jet engine and set the controls precisely as a video game he and Odie played.
    • "Flies exactly the same as the game, except it's real. Game over means game over."
  • Clerks the Animated Series spoofs The Last Starfighter example listed above in film. Randall spends countless hours playing a game called Pharaoh in hopes that the above situation will occur to him—when it does, it turns out the games' makers are looking for slave laborers to build a pyramid.
  • Danny Phantom: In the movie "Reality Trip", Danny pilots the Space Shuttle to a safe landing using his experience playing a Shuttle flight simulator game. Slightly more plausible than it sounds, he wants to grow up to be an astronaut so he might have actually been learning from simulators.
  • Doug: In one episode Judy fails her driving test and then practices for the re-test on a car-race arcade game.
  • Futurama parodied this in an episode where Fry is recruited to fight the invaders from the video game planet, Nintendu 64. For bonus points, the fight is played out exactly like in Space Invaders.
    • Unfortunately, that was one of the "Anthology of Interest" episodes, so just a part of the characters' imaginations, and not a "real" episode. Fry wanted to see a scenario of "What if life was just like a video game?"
      • One of the punchlines being that even though the world is warped to suit his strengths, he still fails. Although, apparently he was better than anyone else in the year 3000.
        • It's because he could never get the last ship, he always had his brother get it for him.
    • The Planet Express crew got Genre Savvy on this, using a video game interface for the Planet Express Ship's weapons for Fry to use.
    • Also the second episode, where Amy is able to pilot Fry, Leela and Bender to safety thanks to too much time spent retrieving the ship's keys from the crane game.
  • Hey Arnold! does this in The Movie. Arnold insists that Gerald can drive a bus because he's so good at doing so in an arcade game. Turns out he's right.
  • Invader Zim: Gaz is able to defeat Zim twice, once in a mech and once in a ship, due to her extensive videogame skills, and she thought the former actually was a videogame as the mech was remote controlled. A mild subversion however, as Zim wavers somewhere between Genius Ditz and Too Dumb to Live.
  • Jimmy Two-Shoes: Jimmy manages to fly a plane somewhat compatently because he was good at a video game of it. Of course, the things he did in that episode still mark him as Too Dumb to Live.
  • Johnny Test: In an episode where the military tries this tactic to recruit soldiers to fight a new rebellion started by angry arctic penguins, they end up recruiting Johnny, who is great at the game and was "amazing" in training facility according to Mr. White.
  • Megas XLR: It's stated that the reason Coop is such a good mech pilot is because he plays so many video games. This is slightly more plausible than the others, as he apparently remapped Megas's controls to match his video game experience—a joystick and what appears to be an old NES controller being among the items on the control panel.
    • This is subverted/averted in an episode, where Coop is forced to use a Dance Dance Revolution pad to control Megas. Unfortunately, Coop isn't exactly your regular DDR player, so the fight is a bit... awkward. There's also the fact that Coop is horribly out of shape and is exhausted after only about a minute.
    • The show actually came about by the creators talking about this trope.
  • The Real Adventures of Jonny Quest: In the episode, Nemesis, Jonny and Hadji lose their jeep and acquire a tank. Hadji asks Jonny if he knows how to operate one, and Jonny replies "Tank Leader 2. Highest score ever recorded."
  • The Simpsons: An episode involves a scene where Homer needs to pack his family and their luggage into a car that won't fit all of it. Bart laments the lack of space, but Homer just gives a reassuring calm smile, and explains that "That's what all those hours of playing Tetris were for." And proceeds on a sequence where he imagines the cargo and passengers as Tetris blocks.
    • There is also an episode where Bart takes karate lessons but gets bored and just ends up going to the arcade. He learns the "Touch of Death" from a game there, which ends up working on his sister and convincing his family he's actually going to his lessons. It backfires later though.
      • He doesn't learn the "Touch of Death"; he just claims he did to scare Lisa.
  • 6teen: In one episode Jude tries to teach Jen how to drive by having her play a GTA-like arcade game. She ends up failing her driving test.
  • South Park: The episode "Best Friends Forever" also spoofedThe Last Starfighter with Angels replacing the aliens and a PSP game replacing the arcade game.
  • Family Guy: The episode "Big Man on Hippocampus", Peter loses his memory. Lois tries to teach him how to drive by telling him to play GTA for 8 hours. The following scene shows Peter assaulting a prostitute and jacking a car.
  • Taz-Mania: In "Astro-Taz", Taz's skill at video games allows him to shoot out a meteor swarm that was going to destroy the Earth.
  • An episode of Beware the Batman has the Commissioner ask Barbara where she learned to drive stick shift. "Video games."

Real Life

  • One NASCAR driver actually credited a win to practicing on a NASCAR video game.
    • It's common for some drivers practice on NASCAR based video games to get an idea of the track more so for drivers who have never been on that track before in their career. Given that drivers get very limited practice time on the actual tracks prior to a race (and contrary to what most non-fans believe, NASCAR tracks are not all identical ovals), this is genuinely useful.
    • Also, several Formula One racers are reported or have admitted to using racing simulators prior to races in order to get a feel for the timing of turns and hills on their courses.
    • This is perhaps coming true with iRacing, created by Dave Kaemmer's former Papyrus Design Group with the intention of being realistic enough to allow real-life racers to practice and for gamers to get good enough to maybe try the real thing - albeit at a fairly amateur level, hence the entry level cars being a road going coupe (Pontiac Solstice) and a Legends mini-stock car. The sim limits the 'proper' stock cars and Formula Mazda cars to experienced players. Sure enough since it's launch the real Dale Earnhardt Jr, Jacques Villeneuve, AJ Allmendinger and Justin Wilson have all signed up. Just the sheer amount of tiny bumps that ripple through the force feedback is enough to impress. The surest sign of all of the sim's authenticity is that with a few weeks practice the player can get within about four or five seconds of an acceptable real-life lap, but then gets stuck since the real skill is in finding those last few seconds. Then once that's done you can think about trying to be quick. Another fun thing is that moves you may have seen the pros do on TV really work in a race - braking early to deliberately let someone past then cutting back underneath them as they miss their braking point and sail wide is an especially satisfying trick.
    • The GT Academy program sponsored by Nissan was an experiment to see if expert players of Gran Turismo could apply their skills in real life racing, with the ultimate prize for the top two players being a chance to take part in an endurance race (the 24-Hours Dubai endurance race). The winners in that experiment finished reasonably well in that race.
    • This led Jeremy Clarkson to try the same thing on an episode of Top Gear. Conclusion: it's possible to learn a track, but you can't take the same risks in real life that you take in a video game without risking injury or death (he was racing on Laguna Seca, a track with one of the scariest corkscrew turns in racing, and simply could not get over the fact that if he made a mistake in real life, he could end up dead).
    • Gran Turismo maker Kazunori Yamauchi of all people took up the challenge when he was invited to take part in the actual 24 Hours of Nurburgring endurance race on May of 2010. Though he drove "over 1000 laps" of the Nurburgring Nordschleife in his games, he admitted it was a "shock" when he drove out in his team's car (a Lexus ISF race car) into the actual track, but his experience in the game actually payed off. His team finished 4th in their (SP 8) class, and 59th place overall (after starting from 174th place on the grid).
  • Herb Lacey was accepted into naval flight training in 1998 and graduated near the top of his class despite having no prior flight experience except on Microsoft Flight Simulator. The US Air Force and Navy now promote the game and provide add-ons simulating training aircraft, with students who use the software scoring on average higher in real flight training than students who don't.
  • Another one: The US Army has tested using networked first person shooters for infantry training. No, they aren't training to blow up demons and mutants but getting soldiers used to the idea of communicating with each other while on the move and in combat.
    • Wired magazine ran a piece on US Marines being trained in this way on a special map for Doom. The map was later sold commercially, and the creators became game developers.
    • The video game Full Spectrum Warrior was commissioned by the U.S. Army for exactly this purpose. (The version that the Army uses exists in the retail version as an unlockable bonus; the version you buy in stores has changes to make it more entertaining.)
      • Similarly, the US Army commissioned and released America's Army as a free download to the public. It's at least as much aimed at training people realistic combat(i.e., team-killing is murder, not comedy) as actual skills, but it probably qualifies.
      • The game Full Spectrum Warrior contrasts with most such games in that non playable characters are actually useful, because in real life, trained soldiers usually are. Also, getting shot is bad and most of the game involves proper movement patterns based on the idea that people are trying to kill you, instead of trying to outrun a health meter or waiting for a shield to recharge after reckless use of grenades.
        • Paxton Galvanek used what he learned in America's Army to help save the life of someone in a car crash. Healing people in the game is a matter of pushing the left mouse button, but qualifying as a medic requires sitting through and passing 3 tests on first aid.
  • At the height of the early-1980s arcade craze, Joystik magazine reported with a straight face that the Air Force used Defender arcade machines in pilot training.
  • And the US Army definitely commissioned Atari to make them a full 3-D version of Battlezone for tank practice, in probably the earliest example of this.
  • It's been suggested that one reason the US Army has adopted relatively easily to fairly radical changes in operation due to technology is because most soldiers over the last few decades have been exposed to videogames and using technological enhancement is second nature.
    • On the other hand some military guy said that the videogame generation is too soft and needs special treatment during training to make them good soldiers.
    • It's probably a combination of both aspects as one videogame generation soldier mentioned that while combat experience was very similar to Halo, he was also exceptionally unprepared for it (relatively speaking) because it was also very different from Halo.
  • During the Falkland Island war, the Argentines used mass wave tactics that overloaded the computer-based targeting systems of British anti-air defenses. Apparently, however, because the operators of the systems, young men versed in the video games of that day and age such as Space Invaders, they were able to manually target and destroy the incoming Argentine attacks.
    • Supposedly, the Army has the Force XXI Corp, trained using cutting-edge simulators. It's mentioned in MGS2, which is usually pretty good about military research.
    • Look at the soldier to the far left of this picture depicting the gear for the Future Force Warrior project. See what he's holding?
      • To be fair to the project, Xbox 360 controllers (and any modern gamepad really) are little more than joysticks in a different configuration. It also helps that, though not advertised as such, both 360 and Play Station 3 controllers are also USB-compatible meaning with little or no adjustment, they can be used with computers easily and cheaply. And unlike joysticks, gamepads tend to be a lot more ergonomically designed.
        • Plus it makes using the equipment easier. Most people are familiar with a video-game controller and could easily pick up how to use it. Plus it's easily replaceable and relatively sturdy for the price.
  • Allegedly, some of the September 11th hijackers learned to handle large aircraft by playing Microsoft Flight Simulator. Given that the nature of their attacks skipped the really difficult parts like landing, this might be feasible.
  • Real life has "mirror neurons" that fire when you see an action you aren't performing yourself.
    • An episode of The Gadget Show carried out an experiment to see if it was possible to learn to fly a plane using Microsoft Flight Simulator. The individual concerned succeeded, but then again he had been using thousands of pounds worth of peripherals.
      • Not to sound crude but considering their plan I don't think they would have been in any position to benefit from saving their money for a rainy day.
  • Lieutenant Colonel Dave Grossman lives after his military career on the study of how video games can train people to kill. Note that Grossman is not talking about learning specific techniques. He's talking about acquiring the will to kill. That is, his research shows that many people - possibly most people - tend to flat out refuse to take human life, even in combat. This resistance can be overcome, though, and sufficiently realistic video games are one of the things that can help break it down. (Not the only thing, obviously, or life would have been much quieter in the days before the microchip. Sufficiently aggressive contact sports, for instance, can have much of the same effect.) Actually the video game thing is a pretty tiny corner of his larger project.
  • Season 4 of Battlebots featured a 12-year-old driver who made it to the lightweight quarterfinals because his video game experience allowed him to be one of the best drivers at the event.
    • This is true of every robotics competition; the best teleoperators are gamers. Because of a lack of force feedback beyond vibrations in games, gamers have the ability to cope much better remotely operating a robot, which has no feedback beyond what an onboard camera might provide.
  • Tetsuya Sakai. After practicing intensely with airsoft, he came over to the US and, after exactly two days of live-fire familiarization with a .45 automatic, won the 2004 Steel Challenge, smoking legendary shooters like Rob Leatham ("The Great One").
  • The US army had trouble teaching its soldiers to move the robots, so they got the controls for the robots in the shape of playstation controls, and the soldiers mastered it easily. This has been adopted by many armies all over the world.
    • Though part of this may be due to the fact that gamepads are designed for ergonomics and universal functionality rather than function first/design later. There's a reason that, minor appearances aside, gamepads look and act identically.
    • For much the same reason, NASA uses Xbox 360 controllers (or occasionally Logitech knockoffs) to control the new Space Exploration Vehicle prototype from outside the cockpit.
  • This trope is why Predator and Reaper drones work so well.
  • During a botched invasion of her home in India by terrorist Abu Osama, 18 year-old Rukhsana Kauser hit him with an axe, took his AK-47 and shot him with it before driving his accomplices out of the home. Her explanation as to how she could operate an automatic rifle with zero prior experience? "I had never touched a rifle before this, let alone fired one - but I had seen heroes firing in films and I tried the same way."
  • This driver, who was 15, and had only driven in video games, successfully evades police until his car "breaks down" (though as pointed out in the comments, the breaking down footage is reused from earlier in the video and he apparently got away and was turned in later.)
  • The US Army actually looks for potential recruits with considerable experience with FPS shooters, since expert gamers use the same tactics used by experienced soldiers.
    • Hence the America's Army series, which eschews many FPS tropes in favor of realism. Note that without hacking the base game, the player must create an online account that records their game performance.
  • This guy took down his knife-armed attacker with a leg sweep he learned from watching mixed martial arts on television.
  • A lot of surgeons (especially the type who do remote surgeries) report improved hand-eye coordination after playing Tetris.
  • While this trope can go both ways (See Reality Is Unrealistic), this has had a widespread effect and is reflected in more modern media. More people understand the basic operation of a gun and how to handle them; more people know basic facts about how to handle a discovered crime scene (i.e., don't touch anything, and don't ruin any evidence, etc); more people know basics about how to fly a plane; the list goes on.
  • There are also plenty of training video games for military, police, etc. that AREN'T about killing or flying or anything like that, but are to practice foreign language skills, negotiation techniques, logistics management and the like.
  • This Ukrainian soldier attests to having learned how to use a grenade launcher from S.T.A.L.K.E.R.. He then kindly asked GSC Game World founder Sergiy Grygorovych a copy of the game, which they kindly obliged as a gesture of thanks to their services to the country.