In the film "Pixels", the aliens use the video footage found in a NASA space probe (containing images from July 1982's 'World Arcade Championships') to design an invasion fleet.

However, we also see...

  • Duck Hunt (Console-only release from 1984)
  • Paperboy (released 1985)
  • Tetris (released 1984)
  • Arkanoid (released 1986)
  • Max Headroom (released 1984)

So how and why did the invasion fleet contain games and references from after 1982?

  • 35
    Because Adam Sandler.
    – Wolfie Inu
    Nov 13, 2015 at 11:18
  • 1
    Wow. Tell us how you really feel :D
    – Wolfie Inu
    Nov 13, 2015 at 11:22
  • 12
    I think you're really asking too much if you expect it to be historically accurate. Nov 13, 2015 at 11:41
  • i couldn't upvote your comment more than once @Richard Nov 13, 2015 at 12:04
  • 3
    Answer: wibbly wobbly, timey-wimey....stuff.
    – Liesmith
    Nov 13, 2015 at 18:13

2 Answers 2


Because in the world of Pixels, they DID exist in 1982.

According to the script of Pixels, the opening scene (set in 1982) has the main characters (as 13 year olds) go the arcade near them, which shows us that in the world of *Pixels, some of the games in question exist before they were released in the real world.

Excerpt from the script (bolded parts mine, [snip] used to indicate I have removed extraneous material);

Our hero, SAM BRENNER, 13, rides his bike through the suburbs.
WILL COOPER, age 13, is mowing his lawn.
Its like going into another world. All the classic games are lined up: PAC MAN, DONKEY KONG, CENTIPEDE, SPACE INVADERS, GALAGA, Q-BERT, PAPERBOY, ASTEROIDS, BREAKOUT.

Being as Paperboy exists in 1982 in Pixels when it wasn't released until 1985 in real life, and Q-Bert wasn't released until October in 1982 yet it exists in the Summer of 1982 here, it seems safe to assume that in the world of Pixels, all the games mentioned did exist in 1982.

Either that, or no-one did their homework. You choose.

  • 9
    This would also explain how Ms PacMan is seen in the arcade despite not coming out for another year
    – Valorum
    Nov 13, 2015 at 16:54
  • 3
    Apparently, according to Richard's answer, they did do their homework - they just assumed people are too dumb to notice or care. I guess if you're old enough to know AND went to see the movie... Nov 13, 2015 at 22:27
  • 2
    @HannoverFist: “…assumed people were too dumb to notice…” is a slightly uncharitable way to put it! It seems more reasonable to say: they took artistic licence, going for visual effectiveness over historical accuracy, and trusted that most people who might notice would be sophisticated enough not to be upset by that.
    – PLL
    Nov 14, 2015 at 12:54
  • @PLL Whereas I would describe that as a very charitable, or rather, a very diplomatic, way to put it. Also, on StackExchange sites, voters and moderators tend to disapprove of strongly worded opinions. Personally, I'd say they knew yet decided their own ideas about what games were iconic (or more likely, just their choice of which ones they wanted to use), and their desire to simplify the film's version of history, was an improvement over history, for their own limited purposes in making a caricature they thought they could sell well.
    – Dronz
    Nov 15, 2015 at 0:17
  • 1
    I'm gonna be mad as hell if an answer to a quetion about Pixels ends up becoming my most highly rated answer. Nov 15, 2015 at 21:51


According to the film's writers, the aliens had access to other probes (launched after 1982) which contained later game and TV references.

Q. It’s really cool looking. Were there any like guidelines for what defines the era of videogames you were gonna tackle in this? Like is Mario too far down the timeline or–?

Chris Columbus: Not with specific games, but the set pieces. The videogames that are the set pieces did exist in ’82. Some of the games, there are a couple of videogames, I don’t wanna spoil it for anybody, they have cameos. That maybe were either a little late, you know, [ones that] might have been a little later. But we assume that the Earth has been sending time capsules up into outer space and the aliens have seen all of the time capsules of videogames.


Historical accuracy was something the filmmakers considered and ultimately rejected in favour of the rule of funny.

Mike Ryan: So, the aliens received a tape from 1982. But then they reference things that happened after ’82, like Max Headroom. Is that just a concession you have to make in a movie for a joke?

Chris Columbus: It’s funny you mention Max Headroom. We debated about that a long time because we did have to cheat slightly because he’s not 1982. But, again, it’s such an interesting way to go and it’s funny and it’s great. And I thought, well, some people will — you, particularly – will get that it’s not 1982. And I think the Madonna clip might be ’84.

MR: I’m probably being nitpicky.

CC: But the great thing is with what you’re touching on, we did have internal disputes for days, sometimes weeks, about stuff. When we did the Breakout scene in India for instance, we found out as we were designing the scene that it was a later version of Breakout we were designing. So, Sandler was furious.

MR: Really?

CC: Oh yeah, he was furious. He’s like, “We can’t do this. It has to be the ’82 version.”

MR: Was he mad about Max Headroom, too?

CC: We talked about Headroom a long time. He wasn’t angry about it, we just had a discussion about, “Do you think we will be able to get away with it?” And I said, “I think 95 percent to 97 percent of the audience won’t know it’s not 1982.”

  • 18
    Wow, with all the apparent arguments they had it seems like the better answer would just be to make the space probe come from 1987 or something. I haven't seen it yet, but 1982 better have been important for some reason.
    – JPhi1618
    Nov 13, 2015 at 19:16
  • 1
    @JPhi1618 - By 1987 the "Golden Age of Arcade Video Games" (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Golden_age_of_arcade_video_games) was over and many of the classic arcade games featured in the movie were no longer popular.
    – RobertF
    Nov 16, 2015 at 4:15

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