“Pixels”: A Blast From The Past
“Pixels” is a 2015 science fiction comedy film starring Adam Sandler and revolves around a group of childhood friends, including Sandler’s character, who must come together to save the world when aliens misinterpret video game footage from the 1980s as a declaration of war. The aliens attack using pixelated versions of classic arcade games. To defeat the extraterrestrial invaders, the group uses their gaming skills to combat giant versions of Pac-Man, Centipede, and other iconic video game characters. While the film combines humor, nostalgia, and action as the characters race against time to prevent the pixelated apocalypse, their success hinges on their understanding of video game patterns that they came to understand and saw as they played the games when they were younger.
The Power of Patterns
I enjoyed this movie because of the nostalgia for the old arcade games and the creative aspect of bringing them to life. Also, Adam Sandler always seems to make a fun movie to watch. But, I really liked the pattern theme. I sure noticed them when I personally played Galaga, Pac-Man, Centipede, and Donkey Kong. But, I wasn’t a master of video gaming by any stretch of the imagination. After reflecting on the idea of patterns, I thought about how applicable the concept was outside of video gaming.
Patterns Beyond the Screen
For example, we often see children with a cough, runny nose, and congestion. We think of it as a simple “cold” most of the time…assuming that the exam is normal, except for clear mucous draining out the nose onto the upper lip. However, if the symptoms worsen after a few days with a worse cough and a new-onset fever, we start to think that there may be a pneumonia brewing, even before we take vital signs and examine the child. If the child is breathing faster, working harder to breathe, has a lower-than-normal oxygen saturation, and has the typical “crackles” on lung exam, the diagnosis of pneumonia is higher on our list of disease choices. This prompts us to check a chest x-ray to see if our hunch is correct.
Pattern Recognition in Medicine
While “Pixels” was entertaining and supplied me with a generous dose of nostalgia and humor, it also inspired me to ponder the importance of pattern recognition. In medicine, pattern recognition is a critical skill for physicians to provide timely and effective care, whether it is for a common “cold” or a more complex disease. However, just like gaming, medicine can present challenges that require a deeper understanding of subtle pattern differences to arrive at the correct diagnosis. So, whether battling pixelated invaders or deciphering health mysteries, understanding patterns is a universal key to success on the computer console and in real life.
Can you share an example from your own life or profession where recognizing patterns played a crucial role in making decisions or solving problems?