Some of the Top Games from Star Trek and Other Sci-Fi Shows

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It's chess, Jim, but not as we know it.


In the highly advanced science fiction universes, everything is great: technology, travel, battles. And our favorite movies and TV series of the genre always manage to unfold stories involving interesting characters in the most unusual circumstances. In the rare moments when the suspense slows down, that’s when we see them in different situations, talking, killing time and having fun. During those times, more often than not, for entertainment, they would turn to some absorbing social games.


It is only logical that sci-fi heroes would want to show off how smart they are while competing with their friends and rivals. The filmmakers help with that by coming up with some fictional game propositions. Examples of such ideas can be found in the Star Trek franchise. Watching Star Trek, you can always spot the famous Tri-Dimensional Chess (Tri-D Chess) or a Vulcan puzzle called Kal-toh. There is also the Kadis-kot board game, which uses six-sided boards and three sets of tiles, the Strategema — a strategy played on a holographic board where you have to gain the opponent’s territory and defend your own — and many more. Capitan Kirk invented one on the spot to confuse his captors; thus, the complex Fizzbin card game was created. In fact, there are quite a few, if you take into account the Holodeck, which is a special device that enables interaction with many different virtual reality environments.


The Starship Enterprise’s crew members clearly do not lack imagination in entertaining themselves. But they didn’t always reach for made-up games. In fact, throughout the Star Trek: The Next Generation series, we can see them enjoying the game of poker. More precisely, the classic Five Card Stud, which is less commonly played these days contrary to the more popular stud variation of poker: Seven Card Stud. Poker, being the game of skills and reading the opponent, was a perfect opportunity to show the characters’ unquestionable intelligence and strong focus while being a great setting for plot development. Watching Data, our beloved sentient android, was particularly interesting as he learned the difference between theory and practice, as well as some insightful intricacies about human nature.


Card-based games and chess-like variations are actually quite frequently used in the sci-fi world. The most notable examples of the latter are provided by Farscape. In Farscape, Tadek was a game in which contestants move around stacks of shiny gem pieces as they lit up. Besides strategy, the game permitted bluffing. As for the other favorite motive, cards, the Firefly series brought us the Tall Card board game. The show doesn’t explain how to play it, but as of a couple years ago, fans can purchase their own deck with some established rules. The rules for the game of Triad on the other hand, which is Battlestar Galactica’s futuristic space poker, were largely improvised by the actors on the show. You can buy yourself a set of this one as well. Lastly, the game of Sabacc is also worth mentioning. Extremely popular all around the galaxy far, far away, it resulted in Han Solo winning his spaceship Millennium Falcon, so that’s a pretty big deal for the plot.

Those are just a small representation of how the characters from our favorite sci-fi movies and shows entertain themselves. And because the sci-fi world is so rich in ideas about interesting and absorbing social games that emphasize the hero’s personality and skills, we’ve only just scratched the surface. Wouldn't it be nice to see more of these games available in real life?

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