There was a multitude. They clamoured, scrabbled, clawed to be the one. There were too many to count, numbered in their hundreds on both sides. Limbless, faceless bodies stretching out, striving to be the chosen. The names were there, but they meant nothing; these were the masses, and they were at their temple, worshiping the one truth: The Ball. This is the future, and the future is Pong.
I can’t help but see the obvious point World of Pong is trying to make. It boils down the entire concept of MMO and applies it to the ‘first’ (I place it within quotation marks because I just know someone is going to prove me wrong) game. Hundreds of players on each side, each with their own paddle. Dozens of balls all sailing in an unattainable ballet, crossing the aether between the thronging hordes. You have a name, and a level. Everyone can see both, so it’s your own private shame when that definitive number beneath your name reads a simple ‘0’. It means you’re lowest, you haven’t even touched it.
You see, you level up each time you successfully return The Ball. However, every time you leave your score is reset, and you’re forced to work your way up the ladder again. The board is massive; a tiny segment is all that fits on your screen. You can’t see the other side, and you merely play this shadow tennis with them over the vastness of the internet. There are people there with scores in the 30s; how long have they sailed up and down the singular plane? Hours, at least. The entertainment is derived from the confused words people spew into the rudimentary chat system inherent in the game, but, you must wonder, what if the ball comes for them while they type? A chance missed, a shame doubled.
It’s certainly an alien world. It’s full of confusion and anger, incredulation and adoration. There are the true zealots; people who ‘get’ the game, and presumably, have the high scores. But, far outnumbering them, are people who have been sent to World of Pong, as was I, without explanation apart from a ‘it’s brilliant’. They are confused, desperately trying to get the ball that, all too often, is unreachable. What’s the point? The point is the grind, of course.
You can download it here.
(And yes, I do know its secret.)