The Cold War between the United States and Soviet Union sparked a series of reverberations that continue to resound throughout the international community even to this day. Some echoes from this intense period of conflict have made themselves evident in arenas we would least expect. Nuclear Fruit examines one such arena: the modern video game.
"Many of us have grown up with video games," the narrator announces early in the film. "But video games grew up during the war." Separated in five distinct sections, Nuclear Fruit traces that evolution in startling detail. It begins by spotlighting the increasingly prominent role of computers in defining wartime strategies, most notably evidenced by the history-altering contributions of Alan Turing, a noted mathematician who managed to successfully decipher the secret codes of the Nazis during the Second World War, thereby facilitating an effective end to that conflict.
America's race against the Soviet Union reached an apex in their shared ambitions to conquer space travel. After the Soviets launched Sputnik in 1957, the United States invested unprecedented dollars and manpower towards achieving manned spaceflight. Computerized technologies played a primary role in this endeavor, and led to the birth of a whole new generation of sophisticated programmers. The video game reflected this trend as early as 1962 with the release of Spacewar, a groundbreaking two-player digital display designed by students at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The game capitalized on frictions between the nations by pitting two crafts against one another in the outer reaches of space.
In the early eighties, the Russians invented one of the most successful games in history: Tetris. The building blocks that functioned as the player's tools mirrored the barriers which divided the people from their desired freedoms. The fall of the U.S.S.R. in 1991 occurred in concert with the democratization of computerized technologies, yet the Cold War continues to inform the settings and objectives of countless first-person combat games even to this day.
Nuclear Fruit shows how the technologies used by billions across the world are not just fun and games. In fact, video games have long portrayed the political and cultural zeitgeist of the times.