The Game

Wesley Crusher is back on the Enterprise, though there is very little time for him. Everyone is playing this great new game! The only one with a real interest in Wes is Robin, a fetching young ensign in engineering. She and Wes have no interest in the game, until it starts seriously wrecking productivity. Invasion of the Body Snatchers meets nerds in love when we put The Game in the Mission Log.

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  1. regeekery - JD says:

    “game over, man, game over” LOL

    It’s creepy how relevant this episode is to us living in the 21st century. Sad but true how much of the world’s population would sell their souls to have a fun game to play that would make their troubles and responsibilities go away. In this episode it was an alien force’s conspiracy that prompted the game’s infiltration of the ship but in the real world it’s our own addiction to advancing technology and the many devices we need to live. I’m so happy that Mission Log is available to listen to anywhere I go on any piece of equipment with internet connection, I listened to it on the way to work, to distract me from the frustration of the morning commute to my job and I can block out everything else in the world too. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • deaddropsd says:

      I play Grand Theft Auto V online w PlayStation 4. Ever since 2008 GTA IV on PS3…a simulated city…guns, cars, planes, explosions and stunts, rain, sunsets, traffic, clouds… – I tell people online and whoever..it is like an early version of..”The Matrix”- you jack in and change worlds w an ingame cellphone..really crazy…fun, but I jokingly say, “I know I am playing too much, if sunsets, views IN the REAL WORLD, remind me of views IN THE GAME….”

  2. JusenkyoGuide says:

    Pre-Podcast: So if I make this a drinking game for Pokemon Go references, how drunk will I get?

  3. Pancho planet says:

    Great episode and great podcast as usual. Leave it up to ST to look ahead into the future and paint a picture that is today’s reality with our electronic gadgets.
    Great job Ken & John, you guys keep me grounded.
    “Pokemon Go”
    ( no I don’t subscribe or play it, just had to mention it.)

  4. Mike C. says:

    I believe there are at least two more TNG episodes remaining with Wesley: The First Duty and Journey’s End.

    Also, the irony of a character played by Wil Wheaton, a god of all things gaming-related, fighting against a game is not lost on me.

    • Hi Mike – it does sound like I was saying Wesley is only back for one more. That was actually in the section about the director, but I can see how it needed to be more clear.

    • deaddropsd says:

      backtracking like this and seeing the cut footage of Wesley Crusher at the Riker Troi wedding in “Nemesis” really makes me smh at how lacking in complete vision the creators had… I wonder what Gene had in mind from start to finish. Wesley really just floundered. I know he had problems w Berman etc…but dang, what a poorly conceived character and worse follow up…ugh. Poor Wil Wheaton…bah he’s doing ok, I think…

      • Mike C. says:

        I agree. Wesley could have been a great opportunity to explore what it might be like to grow up in a Starfleet environment, but (and I’m paraphrasing Wheaton here) the writers just didn’t know how to write for teenaged characters. By the way, I really enjoy Wheaton’s recent work, especially TableTop, and it’s great that he’s become an icon of geek culture.

        • deaddropsd says:

          My “dream” was not make VOY, but 2-3 years after DS9, “Starfleet Academy”. Rebuilding the fleets…academics, inter species, transfers, graduations, new freshmen, field study, rotating cast…. oh well….

        • Dave Steph Taylor says:

          Wil has found his own way into the future.

          As Wesley was just a few years younger than me at the original airing of Next Gen, he was the way I related. but even then, I saw he was poorly devolved.

      • Dave Steph Taylor says:

        It would be interesting to know if Gene had a “greater vision” for Wesley.

  5. CmdrR says:

    How has Riker’s zipper not been court-martialed? Also, does the Enterprise computer monitor what gets replicated? Can I go there and replicate a few hundred tons of meth so I can become The One Who Knocks? Also, I just don’t buy a character who does something such as keep a list of rules; that feels like something more ‘written’ than real. This is a fun episode to watch, but not really analyze too closely.

    • deaddropsd says:

      lol…”I did not have sexual relations w that woman…”- when BattleStar started, I thought it was overboard on the sexy factor…I also thought the idea of android infiltrators was too much..then I thought,if I am supposed to believe Termintators are possible given US Earth technology in 100 years, and how most espionage infiltrators use SEX as a way to manipulate, I realized it is very believable!!- ahhhh Riker…

    • John Anderton says:

      If Picard says ‘come’ for any reason in his office, does his door automatically open?

  6. Earl Green says:

    Just to reward you guys for all the retro video game references…trust me, this is way, way, waaaay better than discs and cones, buddy (and yeah, I’m working on slimming down the ol’ warp core).

    (Before anyone asks, this can be found and played at Arkadia Retrocade in Fayetteville, Arkansas. Welcome aboard, captain!)

  7. Earl Green says:

    I’ve been cracking Pokemon Go jokes in reference to this episode as much as the next guy, and now I feel silly about it. The fact is…you can disappear down ANY rabbit hole to the point that you wind up like the Enterprise crew in this episode…even if the escape from reality that you’re pursuing is (gasp!) watching Star Trek. (Been there, done that.) It’s just funny that this little game that everyone seems to be playing right now is a wonderful little parallel to the discs and cones thing that happened to land at just the right time (or just the wrong time if you’re John and Ken and don’t want to “date” the show!). I’d argue that Pokemon Go is a wonderful thing – it’s a way for me to get my kids up off the couch and out of the house and walking around that’s more palatable to them than “hey, let’s go get some exercise!” (and you see the photo I posted elsewhere here – I need the exercise) and we all get to do that together…so, while it provides a sort of cultural-flashpoint touchstone in reference to this episode, it’s at quite a remove from Beverly hunched over in her quarters with her headset on and the lights turned down. Man, if only there was, like, a candle…with a dude in it…that could help her feel like that, amirite? Still, she’s gotta get her Qix somehow. Anyway, that’s the sound of me putting my Pokemon references to bed where The Game is concerned.

    I really liked Wesley’s escape sequence late in the episode – that really was one of the best-staged aboard-the-Enterprise action sequences we’ve gotten since The Hunted. And I’m trying to find a way to say this that doesn’t come across as insulting the actor’s prior work, so take this how you wish: Wil really stepped up his game (heh) for this episode. Don’t know how much of that was direction and how much was Wil having gotten to do other things in the interim, but the difference was huge. Wesley being freaked out because he’s having to run from his mother and all of his best friends who have each saved his hide 20 times over was *really* tense. I totally believed he was scared to death when they dragged him onto the bridge. For all that, I can even forgive the Deus Ex Data at the end.

    Things that didn’t occur to anyone, but should have: if Wes and Lefler were able to study the headsets with the lab computer, does that mean the Enterprise’s computer core, or even an isolated subroutine within it, gets hooked on the game? And if that’s the case, might it not be difficult to convince the newly infected computer to, oh, say, stop replicating headsets for everyone over and over? (At least until L.Q. “Sonny” Clemonds shows up and tells everyone he’s kicked habits worse than this, and roll credits over a freeze frame of the crew laughing and slapping each other on the back. Okay, I’ll stop trying to turn TNG into a sitcom.)

    • Don’t feel sill about it at all, Earl – the timing was impeccable that it would have been a huge oversight if we didn’t mention it!
      And we, of course, would welcome any return of L.Q. “Sonny” Clemonds.

      • Earl Green says:

        Had to run to the grocery store later than I usually would last night, was in no hurry, caught a couple of Pokemon while I was at it…and totally started chuckling to myself about discs and cones. I think the parallel can’t be avoided because truthfully, the mechanics of game play aren’t actually very different…

    • deaddropsd says:

      I also messaged them about Poke Mon Go…lol!!

    • deaddropsd says:

      always silly how we chase after people on 1701-D w NO CAMERAS!! LOL…production values…

  8. Wildride says:

    Don’t “Space Panic” over a little plot hole about Geordie not noticing Beverly changing her story. You could go “Berserk” trying to make sense of all the things that don’t. Donkey Kong, Jr.

  9. Wildride says:

    Hmm — Can’t think of any writers with a military background. *cough*Roddenberry*cough* ๐Ÿ˜‰


    • Oh yeah, there is that one. And a few more, of course. Not sure if Gene got his creative writing chops while training for the military though.

  10. Mihai Furtunฤƒ says:

    Two things, two kind-of-plot-holes-but-npt-really, that I haven’t noticed about The Game until tonight, while listening to Mission Log.
    One is, how is Geordi playing the game? Is he not supposed to be blind? I mean, I forget what exactly was it that made him blind, but in any case, shouldn’t the game not work on him? Especially not on the visor, as that device seems more like a bypass of the eyes. So it shouldn’t work on him, so he shouldn’t get addicted, and yet he does. What do you guys think?
    Second thing, speaking of addiction, how is it that no one, at the end of the episode, displays any symptoms of withdrawal? Such a powerful psychotropic device should leave you with at the very least a tremendous headache for a couple of days. I mean, maybe it hasn’t been active in them for that long, but if it makes them addicted, it should leave some effects. Because in the words of someone wiser than me, there’s no such thing as a free lunch. What do you guys think?
    There was also a third thing, but it slipped my mind. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Dave Steph Taylor says:

      Good catch on Geordi

    • mc900 says:

      I mean Geordi might be the easiest of all. He’s used to having a device send signals directly to his brain. I don’t think it would be tricky for Dr. Crusher to rewire the inputs his visor attaches to or the visor itself to work with the game.

  11. Wildride says:

    So, instead of something like Pokรฉmon Go, or Bejeweled, Candy Crush, etc., a better analogue would be malware. The use of social engineering, the idea of compromising one system compromise another, preying upon trust relationships, and so on, to spread malicious code.

    “Oh, here’s a message from my dad. I wonder what it’s about. Oops, no, it’s an email worm and now it has infected my computer and broadcast its malicious contents to everyone in my address book.”

    And, of course, one way malware spreads is inside stuff like games that are accessed illicitly. And some useful apps are created entirely for the purpose of spreading malware. And what’s the first thing you do if you infect a computer successfully? Shut down the anti virus software, because it might make your job harder.

    Jungle Hunt.

  12. Dave Steph Taylor says:

    Welcome back guys

    1- The intro to this episode is almost a soft porno. The Federation need to stop visiting Risa. Nothing good ever comes from there.

    2- Props to the inventive idea for taking over the Federation. It almost worked, “if not for those meddling kids.”

    2- It is an interesting swap to see the grown ups playing the game, pressuring the kids.

    3- The game is supposed to be simple so as to not dissuade any potential players.

    4- I have a hard time seeing Picard being interested in playing the game for the first time. Does not seem like a thing Picard would voluntarily do.

    5- An entire ship of addicts undergoing withdrawal, what a fun few weeks.

    6- As to the email regarding not wanting a smartphone. It is entirely up to you what you have on your phone and what you do with it. I have a smartphone at work that only has basic productivity applications on it.

  13. Spencer K says:

    So, I found a number of kinda silly plot issues, and “wuh?” moments, one or two already mentioned.

    1. How did they get Geordi to play the game?
    2. How did Wes NOT see the device sitting just to the right of Picard, when he went into to tell him about his and Robin’s findings? It was *literally* on a shelf next to him, not under a table or something. But I guess Wesley can’t see off-camera like us either. ๐Ÿ™‚
    3. Why would Robin and Wes *not* wear their fake devices around the ship? Seems pretty obvious everyone is looking for non-players.

    As an aside, I like Ashley Judd generally as an actress, but that second time they meet in 10-Forward, I really thought she was going to smack her head down in the table a couple of times with the exaggerated outrage she had over everyone playing the game. She has a tendency to over-act (see Heat), and it was interesting to see this precursor. ๐Ÿ˜€

  14. Lou Dalmaso says:

    compare and contrast the game vs. the holodeck
    I would argue that the game is not all that addictive as Riker and the others are able to take the game off for periods of time. and certainly you can program the holodeck to give you pleasure. It’s just something else that we would have get used to and determine the safe levels of “use”.
    it’s just that the game has a little more “digital nicotine” and is programmed by aliens with an agenda counter control the minds as well.
    point 2) I would watch the hell out of a show around “the Nancy Boys and Hardy Drew” just sayin.

  15. Lou Dalmaso says:

    Whole heartedly agree about the Geordie thing. Couldn’t they have found a way to strand him on Risa for the episode? Kind of like how Troi is always “missing” when an empath would be really handy.
    Plus, remember that Riker was specifically targeted by big forehead sexy lady as a way to get the game onto the Enterprise. He wasn’t getting there by sheer charm alone. So how much of “the full Riker” is him vs. his position and/or reputation? it’s a real chicken and the egg scenario.
    I was amused by how much time was spent on discussing the merits of the game interface, when the episode wasn’t really about a plucky group of game developers trying to make it big in the world of getting a Starfleet contract, the game was just a means to an end, so naturally it would have been basic and easy to accomplish the goal.
    Lastly, I see where you were going with the young Wesley angle, but really, I think the value he serves here is an outsider who is noticing that his friends and former coworkers are acting strangely, more than “youth vs adult”

  16. Robert Karma says:

    I haven’t watched this episode in many, many years. I need to revisit it before I listen to Ken and John dissect it for morals, messages and meanings. I do remember that a very cute looking Ashley Judd was on this episode. That’s about all that sticks with me over the years which is pretty sad.

  17. Daniel R. Przybylski says:

    One other thing that I find annoying about this one is the easy way everyone is cured. Yes, if that weren’t the case, it would be a movie and not a series, but in a bit more realistic and dramatic version of the story, all users might be rendered as lifelong addicts not able to continue their Starfleet careers. Sure, the perpetrators and their devices would be contained, but it would be time for a replacement crew for the Enterprise.


  18. wry observer of folly says:

    I remember Q remarking that Nothing showcases humanity like the games it plays.

    Games that get you high!!!

  19. Toni M says:

    I’m with John Champion. White chocolate is a cruel lie. Ick!

  20. John Anderton says:

    Great episode maybe? I think it’s easier to think about all the great things that this episode suggests than what it actually delivers (Ken’s ideas would make a great sequel. He should bring it up to ST Discovery). Yet it’s theme holds up better today than in the 90’s, when we all still had independent minds.

    However, there are some serious problems with this episode. The romance writing is pretty cringe worthy. The full Riker is not pleasant. And the resolution is simply unbelievably contrived. And who would want to spend all their time playing with an electronic toy viewing computer images on a small screen instead of being with real, live human beings?