6 Bad TV Episodes about Video Games

By Rich Shivener in Lists!
Monday, January 10, 2011 at 10:00 am
Second Life is criminal, or is it?
We have a clue: When detectives try to be gamers, the results are ugly, and often quite hysterical. (Seriously, though, have you seen Gary Sinise trying to play an MMO?)

That's the impression we get from police procedural dramas like CSI: Miami and Law & Order: Criminal Intent. They foul up anything from Second Life to Grand Theft Auto, and they play up stereotypes in the gaming community. (Who knows - maybe all of us are mass murderers.)

Let's have a look. For episodes featuring fat slobs, TEC-9-wielding teenagers and other creeps, hit the jump! 

CSI: New York - "Down The Rabbit Hole"

Second Life gamers can be ruthless, and this is an extreme example. Detectives surmise that someone is offing Second Lifers, so they go undercover in the virtual world, later sex-changing their avatar to get some answers. Yes, they do learn some etiquette of Second Life, but they keep hitting dead ends.

Leave the case to lab rat Adam Ross, though. Framed as the gaming dork of CSI, he enters an epic battle with monster warriors, earning the only lead to the "contract assassin." Still, Gary Sinise (Detective Mac) doesn't seem impressed.

Memorable line: "Look, I don't need a backseat avatar here."

Law & Order: Special Victims Unit - "Avatar"

Law & Order: Special Victims Unit makes Second Life look even creepier. In fact, this episode exposes the underbelly of Another Youniverse, a similar (um, identical) MMO game the NYPD detectives Olivia Benson and Elliot Stabler explore for clues about a missing girl. They start bringing in some hardcore gamers, but they surmise that Mr. Cooper of the local bookstore isn't an innocuous old man after all. He's an AY user who kidnapped a girl who resembles a 15-year-old he raped 25 years prior. Enter the "I didn't do it" segment and all kinds of finger-pointing.

The episode has some cool segments, though. As the detectives track down the killer, the game's architect pins down IP addresses, unlocks personal info, and - holy shit! - runs software "to compare what (Mr. Cooper) built in AY with topographical maps of New York State."  

However, the ending is laughable. Are we seriously supposed to believe his 15-year-old girlfriend from 25 years ago has been waiting for him in a cabin in Upstate New York? She confronts him, and all is revealed.

Memorable line: "Your avatar had virtual sex with her hundreds of times in Another Youniverse!"

Law & Order S.V.U. - "Bullseye"

"Bullseye" is awkward from the start, when the detectives bring in two slobbish gamers for questioning. During the interrogation, they find out the gaming twosome met through an Xbox tournament hosted in South Korea - "He had the cutest avatar," the suspected woman says. Also, they discover the woman suffered from brain damage after an accident on the way to Best Buy. Cue the laugh track.

But episode hits the kill screen when, of course, Detective Benson starts accusing the dude gamer of raping the 10-year-old, and he retorts, "OK, wait a second! Pause the game!" Of course, she has the wrong guy, otherwise the show would be over in 10 minutes.

Memorable line: "Oh, no, Caleb's going to be OK. He's got extra lives."

CSI: Miami - "Game Over"

When a video game tester loses it ...
(Um, we're not saying you can't find the episode online somewhere.)

This one imagines Tony Hawk getting murdered in the midst of developing a new skateboarding game While Detective Horatio Caine is elsewhere helping a former porn star, detectives Calleigh Duquesne and Ryan Wolfe search for clues, questioning game designer Dave Strong and others. They eventually pin it on a stereotypical game tester, Todd Simmons, after they re-examine the voids in some fingerprints at the crime scene. In other words, hyperkeratosis is a bitch.

Memorable line: "Can't press escape on that one."

CSI: Miami - "Urban Hellraisers"

Another gaming incident in Miami makes the Tony Hawk murder look like a misdemeanor - yet it's completely unbelievable.That is, a group of kids act out scenes from a Grand Theft Auto-style video game, shooting up a bank and wreaking havoc with TEC-9s. CSI's resident nerd is Detective Wolfe, who conveniently has the video game in the trunk of his vehicle, and he comes to realize the kids' last hit will be at CSI. Oh, man! How convenient is it that the kids storm the headquarters, and that Horatio doesn't get mowed down by one of their TEC-9s?

Memorable line: "9,000 points, bitch!"

Law & Order: Criminal Intent - "F.P.S."

Warning: The vid is seven minutes - seven minutes of flat jokes, weak dialogue and perhaps the most anti-climatic arrest in the history of any Law & Order.  It's a story of a love triangle involving gamer designer/hacker Neil, who offs a love interest of Jack, his gaming partner. Goren and his sidekick Lynn Bishop piece it all together in the form of weirdly subdued accusations, finally arresting Neil for his machinations.

If you're still not convinced that this is a disaster, check out the earlier scenes, like this one. What the hell is Goren saying?

Memorable line: "A partner let a gamer come between the two of you. If my partner was putting me through that - abandoning me, leaving me vulnerable, impotent - for a nobody, that's unforgivable."
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