Is it a game… or is it real?

200px-War_Games_Cover.jpgSince the War Games launch code was mentioned in a recent post here, I thought I’d post to the very nice entry at Wikipedia for War Games. This was the first DVD I ever bought – even before I had a DVD player. I’m just a big loser geek like that. I remember talking about the movie in 1993 with a guy where I worked. I had just watched it again on TV, and mentioned how outdated it then looked. He reminded me how outdated it looked when it originally aired. I had to agree, but it was still such a great movie (for geeky values of great). And quite successful.

The movie was a hit, costing US$12 million, but grossing over $74 million after five months in the United States. The NORAD set was the most expensive single movie set ever built up to that time, at the staggering cost of $1 million.

I can still remember one of my favorite lines from the movie, but never realized it wasn’t originally in the script:

“I’d piss on a sparkplug if I thought it would do any good.”– Gen. Jack Beringer, ad-libbed by Barry Corbin

On the Wikipedia page is a list of all the launch scenarios tried by Joshua/WOPR. I also liked reading the trivia from the movie.

  • The writers and director had an interest in working with Professor Stephen Hawking to develop the Falken character into a physicist as well as a computer scientist/game theorist. Hawking responded to their request by noting that he was happy to assist with the inclusion of some of his theories on cosmology in the movie, but he would decline if the intent was to exploit his battle with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Since the writers and director could not in good conscience say that Hawking’s disability wasn’t of interest to them, they ultimately decided to write Falken as a dabbler in paleontology instead. They kept the name “Stephen” as an homage.
  • This movie carried the first cinematic reference to firewalls.
  • In the computer game Uplink, one machine that can be hacked into is labeled “Protovision Game Server.” Using the password “joshua” on this machine will recreate the list of games available on the WOPR computer, including a playable Global Thermonuclear War. (Cool game, BTW – buy and play Uplink)
  • A shell script, /usr/games/wargames, is included with BSD systems. When run, it will ask the user if they want to play a game. If a game is selected, the script will then run the game, or, if an invalid selection is made, it will state: “A strange game. The only winning move is not to play.” The script was also run when a user logged in as falcon, followed by an immediate logout.

[tags]War Games, Shall we play a game?, Joshua, WOPR, Movie Miscellany[/tags]