When NASA sends a recording of an 1980's video game tournament into outer space, they have no idea it would reach alien life, let alone give the impression of a war declaration. However, that is exactly what happens.
Though we never see these beings in person, they prove they have superior intelligence. They study the package down to the letter. They learn English. They learn animation techniques. They even learn the the rules and “battle strategies” of our video games. They create perfect replicas of these games. They are also moral and otherwise peaceful beings. Their methods are nonlethal, and they follow the rules of our games.
By the time Earth figures out what is even happening, it is far too late to negotiate. We have no choice but to defend ourselves. The countries of Earth must pull together using unorthodox, nonlethal weapons to save humanity. Soldiers work with gaming champions in order to win lifelike video games.
The problem lies with a language barrier. When that kind of issue occurs, the last thing one wants is to make the wrong impression. Every piece of information put into that package would make a very strong impression. What kind of impression does NASA chose to make? Fights, conflict, battles, war. No wonder the alien beings misinterpret the message.
What kind of message could we have sent that would avoid misunderstandings?
Violet Van Patten’s love for her son pushes her through the Donkey Kong battle causing her to save him.
Love and respect for himself breaks Sam Brenner out of his numerical methods and help him to have faith in his instincts.
Love for his country and his people give President Will Cooper the courage to embrace unorthodox methods, trust his friends’ expertise, and personally engage in combat despite the ridicule of the press and his colleagues.
Loves saves Ludlow Lamonsoff in a sword fight with his video games idol, Lady Lisa. Unable to destroy the woman he loves (as unreal as she is), he lays down his guns, which leads her to lay down her swords and join his side in combat.
It is love for their fellow humans that brings the people of Earth together to defeat the alien forces and ultimately brings peace between the two races. The aliens gladly go home, the damage by the pixels is restored, and Earth remains free.