Wired's got a long, loving feature on the cultural significance of War Games, perhaps the greatest geek movie of all time, a film that inspired a generation of hackers and nerds. They interviewed a wide variety of nerds, hackers, and some of the original filmmakers for the piece.
Peter Schwartz, Futurist and creative consultant: I spent 10 years at the Stanford Research Institute, from 1972 to the end of 1981. That's where all this began. Walter and Larry came to SRI with a script idea called The Genius. And it was about a boy and a relationship he had with a great scientist named Falken, who was basically Stephen Hawking.
Lasker: For me, the inspiration for the project was a TV special Peter Ustinov did on several geniuses, including Hawking. I found the predicament Hawking was in fascinating – that he might one day figure out the unified field theory and not be able to tell anyone, because of his progressive ALS. So there was this idea that he'd need a successor. And who would that be? Maybe this kid, a juvenile delinquent whose problem was that nobody realized he was too smart for his environment. That resonated with Walter. So I said, let's actually go talk to people about how a kid could get in trouble and get discovered by a brainy scientist and take it from there.