contact Geoff

Des Moines, Iowa


The boy and I watched WarGames

Geoff Wood

As previously mentioned, we're doing without satellite for a few months but I've decided that won't stop me from watching the TV. Netflix is a big part of my ability to accomplish this and today nearly-4-month-old Graham and I sat down to watch the 1983 classic technology film: WarGames.

It stars (a pre-Ferris Bueller) Matthew Broderick and (a pre-Breakfast Club) Ally Sheedy as crazy kids who utilize a PC (black screen with green text) and a landline phone handset to call other computers and accidentally stumble into NORAD's missile defense system and trigger events that all but lead to World War III with what was then the Soviet Union.

I'd remember seeing the movie in the early 1990s and thinking the technology looked antiquated then, but, as I write this on the netbook I purchased for a mere couple hundred dollars this year, it's almost comical now. Speaking of comical, at one point my wife walked in and literally though the movie was a comedy (rather than the "action adventure" and "espionage thriller" descriptors assigned to it by Netflix).

As an MBA candidate, I did appreciate the underlying theme of the movie which is really just a long form story playing out game theory. It even ends with the antagonist proving it's learned its lesson by saying "the only winning move is not to play."

Another great MBA lesson from WarGames was an entire scene in the beginning on organizational design theory as the Air Force debates whether it's better for America to allow the officers on the ground (in this movie played by a young John Spencer - known better for his role as Leo McGarry in The West Wing 16 years later) to have the last say in launching Nukes at the Ruskies or if everything should be automated from the Executive level.

As for the boy, he didn't pay much attention, concerning himself more with his exersaucer and his ability to get the toys on it into his mouth. His loss.