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The Big Bang Theory: 10 Video Games The Gang Played In The Show

The Big Bang Theory may be criticized for stereotyping nerds and nerd culture with its characters, but one thing it does often get right is how much the guys love gaming. Video games are a huge part of the series, and not just in an obvious 'gamer guy' way, either.

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Throughout the series, the core four play FPSs, MMORPGs, and even more 'casual' games like Rock Band. Penny has her gamer moments, too, despite being the character who is portrayed as the least nerdy, which is a nice addition to the show. Of all the games they play, though, these have the biggest impact on the series and the characters - or just the funniest scenes centered on them.

10 Rock Band (The Maternal Capacitance)

Rock Band shows up in a few episodes of the show, and the guys are often seen taking it quite seriously. Their time playing together is also something of a precursor to Howard and Raj's later band, Footprints on the Moon. However, the best episode featuring the game is in season 2, when Leonard's mother, Beverley, comes to town. Beverly and Sheldon have a great suggestive moment, as she agrees that they would 'be good together' but doesn't know if it's 'appropriate'... but of course, neither mean anything inappropriate at all, and they are later seen giving it their all at Rock Band. It's a classic comedy bait and switch, and done wonderfully.

9 World of Warcraft (The Fuzzy Boots Corollary)

WoW isn't a central part of the plot in this episode, but it still warrants a mention due to its fame - and that it is casually referenced in other episodes, too. It's established that the gang play World of Warcraft, and that they play together - even after Howard betrays them to steal the Sword of Azeroth. This episode may seem like a simple 'nerd joke' setup, but there's also something to the way that Leonard immediately drops his interest in the game when he realizes that Penny is home - obvious foreshadowing to how she will change him. Howard later also virtually cheats on Bernadette in the game, and in yet another mention, Sheldon's account is hacked and his items are stolen.

8 Halo (The Dumpling Paradox)

One of the games that the gang plays regularly is Halo 3, as referenced in this episode, where Sheldon is upset about Howard missing 'Halo Night'. It's clear that this is a regular occurrence, where they always play together - and that Howard prioritizes a chance to have sex over their gaming.

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The best part of the episode, though, is when Penny joins in, and reveals that she's incredibly good at the game. It's something that makes Penny's connection to the gang a bit more realistic, and gives her character more depth.

7 Assassin's Creed (The Tangible Affection Proof)

Howard's priorities around video games are also the focus of this episode - although this time, he is older, married, and choosing video games over the woman in his life. This comes out when Howard, Bernadette, Leonard, and Penny are out to dinner, and Bernadette is furious that Howard was playing video games instead of doing laundry like she asked. Howard, in turn, is angry that she hid his console, and accuses him of acting like a mother - a comment with many, many layers of meaning, given Howard's complicated relationship with his mom. It's a small mention, but a worthwhile one that also serves as a reminder that the guys are still gamers, even with girlfriends.

6 Dance Dance Revolution (The Big Bran Hypothesis)

In the second-ever episode of the show, The Big Bang Theory is still setting up the characters - and while this game only shows up for a few moments, it does a great job of showing who Howard is. He is seen frantically playing the game in the living room with absolute intensity, and when he finishes, he says "grab a napkin, homie, you just got served". The (unwarranted) confidence, the swagger, and the fact that he sees his Dance Dance Revolution skills as true prowess all speak to exactly who Howard is.

5 Wii Bowling (The Bath Item Gift Hypothesis)

In another great example of how seriously the guys take their gaming, even for less 'serious' games, they play Wii Bowling... in actual bowling shirts. The four scientists have matching shirts, a 'team captain' (Leonard) and Sheldon is even seen chalking his hands to play.

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It's a funny moment, but also a telling one in this episode, when Leonard skips Wii Bowling night to spend time with a 'cooler' scientist (David Underhill). It shows how much Leonard does want to be 'cool', and how his priorities may shift.

4 Zork (The Hofstadter Isotope)

This is hardly as well-known as most of the games that the guys play on The Big Bang Theory - but it deserves a mention for that very reason. In this episode, Sheldon is excited to play Zork, and the 'buggy beta version', too. It's a moment that speaks to how devoted the characters are to their nerdy hobbies, and how much of a purist Sheldon is. He would rather have a less easy or enjoyable experience in order to get the 'true' or original game.

3 Red Dead Redemption (The Shiny Trinket Maneuver)

Sheldon barely even plays Red Dead Redemption in this episode - instead, he is just wandering around in-game, not doing anything. When asked why, he responds that he wanted to take a walk to 'clear his head' after an argument with Amy. It's a brilliant moment that references the incredible open world of RDR, but also shows just how much Sheldon sees games as part of his real world, that he would choose to 'take a walk' online, instead of actually going outside to walk!

2 Words With Friends (The Extract Obliteration)

This episode includes multiple game references, as it opens with Howard and Raj dancing to Star Wars: Galactic Dance Off. However, the headline reference in this one is to Words With Friends, as Sheldon has been playing with Stephen Hawking - and is thrilled that this "officially" makes them friends. Things get complicated when Sheldon starts to beat him and he stops playing, though, leading Sheldon to throw the game. One of the best parts of this episode is guest star Hawking (who appears in multiple episodes) calling Sheldon to make fun of him for losing - a hilarious moment that really shows Hawking's sense of humor.

1 Age of Conan (The Barbarian Sublimation)

Penny may spend most of the series being portrayed as a total ditz who couldn't care less about her friends' nerdy pursuits, but episodes like this one show how much they actually have in common. Here, she is frustrated about a lack of real-world success, and ends up getting obsessed with Age of Conan for the in-game rewards and feeling of accomplishment it gives her. It's a great way to add depth to Penny's character, and also to make a comment about how these games can become addictive for people in the real world for this very reason. (And not everyone has a Howard to snap them out of it.)

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