Pwned | by Nicholas Martin Johnson

A few years back when I was working in the video game industry, I was inspired to write a movie that spoke to the rich culture surrounding gamers while at the same time was accessible to mainstream audiences and entertained on a Guardians Of The Galaxy-like level. The action-packed comedy, Pwned is the result.

Logline: A ragtag group of misfit video game testers are forced to use all of their gaming skills to save the world when an advanced graphics engine opens a portal between reality and a fantastical video game realm.

Synopsis: Dan ‘Hack’ Hackner is more comfortable playing video games with his fellow testers, a colorful group of nerd-do-wells ranging from the classic dork Manny ‘Bitch Ass’ Bechez to so-cal punk rock nightmare, Mike Mayhem, than he is functioning in the real world. He can’t seem to get it together to put the controller down and get on with his life.

Enter the mysterious, sexy and dangerous chick, Katie McCormick, who’s posing as a tester in the hope of finding her missing brother, Hubert. Of course, this leads to her and a love-struck Hack getting accidentally sucked into a video game.

As Hack and Katie bicker and battle their way through the daunting video game landscape, they learn to trust one another and work together to survive, find Hubert and get back home.

Back in the real world, Bitch Ass and Mayhem lead the other testers in a life and death struggle as numerous iconic game characters come through the portal and wreak havoc on reality.

All of the characters band together and draw strength from one another to become the heroes they need to be in order to survive a final showdown against pirates, ninjas and a zombie dragon before they can close the portal and win not only the day, but in Hack’s case, the girl as well. 


  • 2014 ScreenCraft Comedy Competition 110/150 Judges Score
  • 2014 Script-a-palooza Semifinalist
  • 2014 Final Draft Big Break Quarterfinalist
  • 2014 Creative World Awards Finalist (8.95 out of 10 in all five categories)
  • 2015 Stage 32 Happy Writers Feature Contest Quarterfinalist
  • 2015 Final Draft Big Break Quarterfinalist

Praise from PAGE Awards:

  • “(The author’s) style is easy going, drawing the reader into the story and entertaining them.”
  • “A light-hearted romp from start to finish.”
  • “A fun read and the humor works well.”
  • “(Nicholas Johnson) has some real talent as a writer.”

Praise from Bluecat:

  • “The idea is absolutely fantastic. (With) some interesting ideas addressed throughout the script”
  • “It’s wonderful to see the female character take action.”

Praise from Scriptapalooza:

  • “The characters are well chosen and likeable.”
  • “A very interesting and very entertaining idea for a film”
  • “Has a lot of funny things to say about the game world and the people who design them.”
  • “The characters are good, the dialogue and situations are often funny.”

Praise from Script Pipeline:

  • “Has the potential to be a four-quadrant comedy.”
  • “(The author) has created a number of laugh-out-loud moments.”

Praise from Creative World Awards:

  • “A highly developed and entertaining screenplay.”
  • “The premise is highly original and a lot of fun.”
  • “The story is both a celebration and a parody of what it means to be a video game nerd.”
  • “The Dialogue (is) exceptionally well written.”
  • “There is excellent commercial potential in this screenplay. (It) feels like The Big Bang Theory Meets tron. The premise is simple, has mass appeal and amazingly, has not been done before.”
  • “The writer demonstrates a strong understanding of story-structure and character development.”
  • “A tremendously entertaining journey from start to finish, significant both in its retelling of a classic ‘hero’s journey’ narrative and its ability to subtly criticize the story universe it takes place in.”
  • “Not only are the characters deeply entertaining, they’re written with a familiarity and affection that’s too rarely encountered in screenplays.”
  • “The dialogue of this script is consistently superb, one of the highlights of the piece. The snarkier-than-thou attitudes of the testers and their blasé, pompous, deeply self-promoting personas come through with incredible fluency and wit.”
  • “As much as Pwned positions itself to be the Wreck-It Ralph for the twenty-something crowd, it’s just as winning a read for those less familiar with the gaming world.”

Praise from Blacklist:

  • “This is a very fun premise for a movie.”
  • “Clearly lovingly created as a kind of love/hate letter to some of computer gaming’s most infuriating/charming clichés.”
  • “This script wisely knows when the deploy action/adventure clichés in its own favor.”
  • “All in all, a cool world with fun characters and great dialogue.”
  • “The premise of this screenplay shines.”
  • “Provides some biting social commentary on America’s Millennial pastime — a virtual-reality that now borders on an addiction.”

Game Over