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Can Somebody PLEASE Identify This Disney Channel Movie? October 24, 2011

Posted by Maniac in Editorials.

Back in the early ’90s, The Disney Channel was actually a paid premium service on par with HBO or Showtime, and when I was a young kid, my parents had access to it.  They still had their own unique selection of classic television shows for kids, as well as Disney Channel movies.  The movies they broadcast could have been Disney movies that were in theaters, but Disney Channel also broadcast their own unique movies which were produced exclusive for the channel.

Some time in the very early 90s (probably 1990 or 1991, 1992 at the absolute latest) the Disney Channel played a very interesting movie I have since been unable to identify which was one of the first movies I ever saw which tackled gaming as a subject matter.  Astonishlingly enough it wasn’t a horror movie!  Now I know this wasn’t the first gaming movie (Wargames probably beat them to the punch ten years prior) but seeing gaming recognised in an established medium for the first time was an awesome experience for my eight year old self.

The movie revolved around a bunch of teenagers (they may have been adults playing teenagers) who had an arcade in their basement.  This was no small operation, they had a lot of full sized arcade games down there.  Heck, I specifically remember they even had a full sized SEGA motorcycle game (Hang On)!

The cool thing was that all the games were actually linked together (somehow), and it allowed them to play a continuous game on all of them.  They controlled a character (I will call him an avatar) through various problems, and made decisions for each situtation he’d find himself in out of a multiple choice list.  When he would move from task to task, it would be represented as a different arcade game.  Each of the gamers had their own specialty.  When the avatar got on his motorcycle for example, one of the players would hop on the SEGA motorcycle game and guide him to his destination.

Because it was an earlier movie, the avatar was represented as a live-action human being.  Even though he was played by a human, he was still a game character, so anyone trying to draw parellels to the movie Gamer can just stop there.  The avatar, played by a different live action actor, was monitored by the players on a seperate TV screen.  When he reached a decision point, the players would decide amongst themselves what the avatar should do and select the decision out of a list.  That would lead the game to its next setpiece, and one of the players would have to complete one of the arcade games (which game was played was dependant on what the avatar had to do in the game).

At the end of the movie, as the players reached the conclusion of the game’s story, a game character came back that they weren’t expecting, and it ruined the outcome for the avatar.  The game ruined, all the players start packing up.  When they all start to go home a teenager’s father (who looked like a businessman) comes by to pick him up and tells him that he is willing to give him a good paying job, and with the money he could earn from it, he can afford to buy new equipment to upgrade the arcade.

A very lengthy wikipedia search of every Disney Channel produced movie since the channel was founded has turned up nothing.  No movie synopsis for any of the movies the channel produced in the last twenty years came close.  I also tried to match it up with any television shows produced exclusive to the channel and turned up nothing close, but that was kind of futile since Disney Channel rebroadcast shows made by other production companies at that time, and those would not have been listed.

Can ANYONE identify this?  I’d love to find a copy of it somewhere so I could review it for the site, but I don’t even know the name!


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